An Alternative History Book List

This week, in acknowledgement of Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we are offering a series of blog posts that look at pieces of history that have been hidden, silenced, altered, or swept under the rug. Today we would like to share eight of our alternative history titles.

This past Monday was Columbus Day in the United States, but for an increasing number of cities and states, this day no longer honors the man who “discovered” America; rather it celebrates Native Americans in the more aptly named Indigenous Peoples’ Day. With that in mind, we wanted to highlight eight of our titles that offer an alternative history from what is sometimes shown in school textbooks. From the McGraw-Hill fiasco to a Mexican-American studies textbook in Texas, learning about history is something that should involve several viewpoints and not just one group’s take on it.

hammer of witches

Hammer of Witches, by Shana Mlawski

Baltasar Infante, a bookmaker’s apprentice living in 1492 Spain, can weasel out of any problem with a good story. But when he awakes one night to find a monster straight out of the stories peering at him through his window, he’s in trouble that even he can’t talk his way out of. Soon Baltasar’s journey takes him into uncharted lands on Columbus’s voyage westward, he learns that stories are more powerful than he once believed them to be—and much more dangerous.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

Baseball Saved Us, by Ken Mochizuki, illus. by Dom Lee

Shorty and his family, along with thousands of Japanese Americans, are sent to an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fighting the heat and dust of the desert, Shorty and his father decide to build a baseball diamond and form a league in order to boost the spirits of the internees. Shorty quickly learns that he is playing not only to win, but to gain dignity and self-respect as well.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

john lewis in the lead

John Lewis in the LeadA Story of the Civil Rights Movement, by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illus. by Benny Andrews

How does an Alabama sharecropper’s son grow up to help change his world? For John Lewis the journey began as a boy experiencing the injustice of segregation and the inspiring words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This book celebrates the life of a living legend of American history.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

ira's shakespeare dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, by Glenda Armand, illus. by Floyd Cooper

Through perseverance and determination, Ira Aldridge became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors throughout Europe. This story is a captivating tribute to his inspiring life, and to the renowned works of William Shakespeare.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

shame the stars

Shame the Stars, by Guadalupe García McCall

This YA novel from TU BOOKS is a rich reimagining of Romeo and Juliet set in Texas during the explosive years of Mexico’s revolution. Filled with period detail, captivating romance, and political intrigue, it brings Shakespeare’s classic to life in an entirely new way.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

tiny stitches

Tiny Stiches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, by Gwendolyn Hooks, illus. by Colin Bootman

Overcoming racism and resistance from his colleagues, Vivien Thomas ushered in a new era of medicine—children’s heart surgery. This book is the compelling story of this incredible pioneer in medicine.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

brothers in hope

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, by Mary Williams, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, this is a story of remarkable and enduring courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

school the aztec eagles built

The School the Aztec Eagles Built: A Tribute to Mexico’s World War II Air Fighters, by Dorinda Makanaōnalani Nicholson

In May 1942, German U-boats torpedoed two unarmed Mexican oil tankers off the Gulf Coast, forcing Mexico to enter World War II. With the help of United States President Roosevelt, Mexican President Camacho arranged to send one Air Force squadron to fight in the war. Thirty-eight of Mexico’s top pilots, and about two hundred sixty additional military crew were carefully selected to form the 201st Air Force Squadron, also known as the Aztec Eagles. This book tells the exciting story of an overlooked piece of World War II history.

Book available for purchase soon!

Let us know about your favorite stories that teach often overlooked pieces of history!

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