Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Topics > History Topic Booklists > Victorians Topic

Victorians Topic

Victorians Topic Booklist

Known as an age of invention and industrial development as well as an era of poverty, child labour and crime, the Victorian period really was a time of great contrasts. We’ve put together a list of the best children’s books about the Victorians – watch out for a colourful cast of characters including charlatans, pickpockets and travelling showmen as well as resourceful street children, brave orphans and inspiring innovators…

Chapter books about the Victorians

Berlie Doherty
Chapter book

This novel is a very popular choice for KS2 classes. Loosely based on a true story, Street Child is the inspirational tale of a poor Victorian boy fighting for survival on the grim streets of Victorian London. The novel is full of suspense and is a gripping read that will captivate pupils and teachers alike.

Eloise Williams
Chapter book
A change from the many stories set in Victorian London, this popular novel finds its setting in nineteenth-century Cardiff. With a gripping plot from start to finish, this book tells the story of a young girl called Nansi, who tries to survive the bleak reality of being impoverished and female in the perilous streets of Victorian England. We love the cast of characters and the richly evocative Victorian setting.
E. L. Norry
Chapter book

VOICES is an exciting narrative non-fiction series that celebrates the lives of BAME protagonists during key eras of British history, for children aged 8+. Son of the Circus: A Victorian Story tells the story of Ted, the mixed-race son of Pablo Fanque (the first recorded black circus owner in Britain) and his introduction to life with the circus. This is a gripping adventure that examines attitudes to race in the Victorian period.

Christopher Edge
Chapter book

Set in Victorian times, this story by popular middle-grade author Christopher Edge follows the adventure of Penelope Tredwell, a 13-year-old writer who battles to determine what is happening to Bedlam madhouse’s patients as they continue to wake up at the same time each night and produce cryptic messages. The story is full of twists and turns that leave readers guessing what is going to come up next.

Lindsay Galvin
Chapter book

Exciting and original historical fiction charting the discoveries of a cabin boy aboard Charles Darwin’s Beagle in 1831. Syms Covington finds himself stranded on an island in the middle of the Galapagos, separated from the crew of the Beagle with whom he had been travelling as a cabin boy before a storm hit. To make things worse, there is a huge beast threatening his survival on the island. Not just any huge beast – but a dragon. A fire-breathing, very real dragon. Syms will need to use everything he can think of to survive, as well as a little help from an unlikely friend. As well as curriculum links to evolution and the work of Darwin, the story also explores the ethics of dealing with creatures both familiar and unknown as humans go about exploring animal habitats.


Jenni Spangler
 & Chris Mould
Chapter book

An evocative and suspenseful Victorian story with thrills, twists and turns that plays on prevalent superstitions and social issues of the time. There’s plenty of history to explore in the background to the story (in particular child poverty and the invention of the camera), and themes of friendship, belonging and hope provide nuance to the darker elements, making this an original and enjoyable middle grade read recommended for fans of Michelle Harrison and Lemony Snickett.

Jacqueline Wilson
Chapter book

This story by the popular children’s author Jacqueline Wilson has recently been made into a television series on CBBC. Hetty Feather tells the story of a Victorian orphan girl called Hetty and the adventures she has under the strict rule of the matron at the Foundling Hospital where she is sent to learn to become a maid. Also available is Hetty Feather’s Christmas.

Lyn Gardner
Chapter book
Rose Campion is an orphan who has been drawn into the glamorous world of musical theatre. One day, when a popular actor mysteriously disappears, the veneer of the colourful musichall scene begins to fall apart and Rose must use all of her skills and resources to face the troubling reality of the crime and grime of Victorian London. Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret is a well-written mystery story suitable for Years 4-6.
Catherine Bruton
Chapter book

Another Twist in the Tale’ is a rip-roaring adventure set in the Victorian era. The ‘twist’ in the tale is given away right at the start and refers to a character rather than a plot device: what if Oliver Twist, that famous Dickensian orphan, had a twin sister? What would her story have been? Catherine Bruton’s newly-invented ode-to-Dickens explores just this idea.

The reader is immersed into Dickens’ London through the sights, smells, tastes and unique characters. There remains that dark, sinister quality we associate with his writing – summoning the feeling that you never know what dreadful thing may emerge from the shadows or how our heroine’s fate may suddenly be altered in the blink of an eye. The story highlights the plight of girls and women during the Victorian era and sets a feminist tone, as we see the prominent, colourful, female characters strive to overcome the disadvantages of their plights and find their place in a world where power so readily falls upon the men.

Shorter chapter books about the Victorians

Sally Nicholls
 & Rachael Dean
Chapter book

Time slip adventures are the order of the day in A Christmas in Time (Nosy Crow) by Sally Nichols and Rachael Dean. Alex and Ruby fall through a magic mirror and land just before Christmas in 1873. There’s plenty of fun to be had preparing for a Victorian Christmas and a host of old traditions are explored. The two children also learn of the misfortune and peril faced by many during this period. Good will and festive spirit abound though, and this makes an enjoyable and fast-paced Christmas time read for fans of historical fiction…

Terry Deary
 & Helen Flook
Chapter book
In a tunnel under the Thames, an urchin named Jenny and the young Queen Victoria dream of a wonderful new idea - underground trains! Twenty years later, the dream is finally becoming a reality. However, the construction of the Underground is tearing London apart and destroying the home of Jenny and her family. When Jenny comes face-to-face with the Queen again - will she tell her about the human cost of the 'dream'?

Picturebooks and graphic novels about the Victorians

Fiona Robinson
Picturebook

Anna Atkins is acknowledged to be one of the first women in the world to take a photograph, and one of the first people to publish a book of photographic images. In the book, the author’s own drawings and cyanotypes are combined with reproductions of Anna Atkins’ original work. This beautifully presented picturebook makes a great choice for KS2 children looking Victorian inventions and it makes a perfect illustration of the importance of the role that woman have played in the development of science and art, which is in this case nothing short of inspirational.

Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom
Picturebook

This highly illustrated picture books introduces readers to the life and legacy of Charles Darwin. Through diary-like text sections, cartoons and captions, the story offers insight into Darwin’s life and how his understanding of evolution developed through real life experiences with nature. Also available from the same author-illustrator team are The Wordsworths and The Brontes.

Non-fiction about the Victorians

V&A
Non-fiction
A mini guide to the life and legacy of Queen Victoria, complete with colour illustrations and photographs. This book covers the various stages of Victoria's life and reign as well as additional details about everyday life during the Victorian reign. Recommended for ages 7-11.
Ann Kramer
Non-fiction
The ultimate children's non-fiction guide to all things Victorian. This guide is brought to life with colour photographs, infographics, statistics, facts and timelines as well as a wall chart. Topics include inventions, the monarchy, schooling, railways, working conditions and leisure.

Booklists you might also like...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl

review

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?

yes

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments