NYC History: Colonial Era and Revolutionary War

New York City has to be one of the greatest places in America, if not the world. Luckily for us, many authors have chronicled The Big Apple's antics in a way just right for kids.

Here are some of the books available. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding books to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these books, click on either the title or the book cover to be directed to As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

The categories below are sorted by approximate age group and topical categories. Feel free to browse around. The same links are located on the left side of your screen. To return back to this page, simply click on the "Welcome" link on the left.

If this website came up without frames, click here to see the complete "New York City Books for Kids" website with frames.

For Biographies of Colonial/Revolutionary Personalities, go to the Biographies Page

For historical fiction books, go to the New York Historical Fiction Books Page

Other Pages of Interest:
Fiction & Historical Fiction: General Books About New York City (Nonfiction) | Fiction NYC Picture Books and "Easy Reader" Stories (Ages 4-8) | Fiction NYC Books (Ages 9-12) | New York Fiction for Young Adults | New York Historical Fiction (Colonial Period and Revolutionary War) | New York Historical Fiction (Ellis Island & Immigration) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1800s) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1900s)

NYC History: New York Biographies | Native Americans from New York (History and Historical Fiction) | New York History (Colonial Period and Revolutionary War) | New York History (Immigration and Ellis Island) | New York History (The 1800s) | New York History (The 1900s) | The World Trade Center and September 11, 2001 |

NYC Locations: The Statue of Liberty | The Empire State Building | Central Park | NYC Art Museums (Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, etc.) | NYC's American Museum of Natural History | Harlem Books (Including books about the Harlem Renaissance) | Chinatown Books | Little Italy Books | The New York City Subway System | Brooklyn Books | The Bronx Books | Queens Books | Staten Island Books | Long Island Books | Upstate New York Books | New York State Books

Life and Travel in NYC: Thanksgiving in New York City | Christmas in New York City | New York Sports Teams and Players The NYC Fire Department (FDNY) and NY Police Department (NYPD) | General Books About Cities | New York City and New York State Test Preparation and Study Guides | New York Regents Review Books | Parenting in New York City | New York Travel Guides for Families with Children

NYC Toys, Puzzles, and Games (For Kids & Adults) | Coupon Codes

Books for Beginning Readers

Sybil Ludington's Midnight Ride

By Marsha Amstel
A readable account of one heroine of the American Revolution. On April 26, 1777, in Patterson (now Ludington), NY, Colonel Ludington received word that the British were attacking and burning Danbury, CT. His 16-year-old daughter eagerly volunteered to spread the word and gather his troops in a dangerous midnight ride. Traveling over dirt roads in pouring rain, encountering outlaws, and battling fatigue, she accomplished her mission. As a result of her efforts, the troops arrived in time to push the British back to their boats rather than complete their march into New York. The afterword explains the young woman's further role in America's fight for independence. The full or half-page watercolor illustrations complement the straightforward, simple text. This is a worthwhile addition to history collections, especially those in need of titles for early or reluctant readers.

Description from School Library Journal

The Colony of New York
(The Library of the Thirteen Colonies and the Lost Colony)

By Susan Whitehurst
The story of New York is one of conflict and changing leadership. Nonetheless, it weathered the turmoil to earn the nickname, the Empire State. George Washington gave the state this moniker because he believed that New York would be the center of the American "empire."

Description from Publisher

In The Colony of New York Susan Whitehurst gets well beyond the fact that Peter Minuit bought Man-a-hat-ta Island for $24 worth of knives, beads and cloth and that New Amsterdam became New York, which is usually what little there is about this particular colony in American History textbooks. Whitehurst goes back to the Algonquian and Iroquois Indians, who lived in this area before it was "discovered" by Dutch explorer Henry Hudson, who was looking for a river route to Asia. Young readers will learn details about the Dutch colony of New Netherlands (e.g., Peter Stuyvesant's "rattle watch") as well as how New Netherlands was conquered by James, the Duke of York, renamed New York in his honor, and made part of the Dominion of New England. Whitehurst talks about the tensions between tenant farmers and the patroons, the colony's role in the French & Indian War, and how the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 held in New York City was an important step towards the American Revolution and Independence. This small volume, like the rest of The Library of the Thirteen Colonies and The Lost Colony series, is illustrated with full-page historic pictures with a paragraph of simple text on the facing page. "The Colony of New York" keeps the focus on what made this colony unique and will provide useful information for any young student trying to understand the difference between New York and any other colony. The strength of this series consistently proves to be in providing informative details about the colonies that are glossed over because history textbooks focus on Jamestown and Plymouth.

Description from Customer Review

Books for Older Readers

The New York Colony

By Dennis Brindell Fradin
Traces the history of the Dutch colony beginning with the years it was inhabited only by Indians to the time it became the eleventh state. Includes biographical sketches on famous New Yorkers such as Hiawatha, Peter Minuit, and Captain Kidd.

Description from Publisher

The Thirteen Colonies:
- New York

By Adam Woog
The colony of New York, with its vital waterways, vast forests, and strategic location, was one of the most important of all the Thirteen Colonies. It was the site of About one-third of the Revolutionary War's battles, and its chief city served as our nation's first capital.

Description from Publisher

Sybil Ludington: The Call to Arms

By V. T. Dacquino
Sybil Ludington earned a place in American history on a rainy night in 1777 when she rode 40 miles through enemy-infested woods to summon her father's regiment to halt a British raid on Connecticut and New York. Though Paul Revere is the most celebrated revolutionary to sound the call to arms, Sybil Ludington's ride was bolder and far more dangerous, and she was only sixteen years old. Widowed young, she became a successful businesswoman in a profession then dominated by men and raised her son to become a man of stature in his community.

Description from Publisher

Peter Stuyvesant:
New Amsterdam and the Origins of New York

By L. J. Krizner and Lisa Sita
The origin of New York, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the United States today, reaches back more than 350 years ago. Before New York was New York, it was the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, founded in 1624. Although New Amsterdam lasted only 40 years before it was taken over by the English, the Dutch presence in America was to influence culture in the Northeast for centuries to come. Part of the Dutch legacy handed down to the present day is the story of New Amsterdam's most well known leader, Petrus, or Peter Stuyvesant.

Description from Publisher

Legends abound about the character, temperament, and wooden leg of the last director-general of New Amsterdam, fueled primarily by Washington Irving's satirical A History of New York. Krizner and Sita set the record straight here and address other misconceptions about the early days of the colony. Indeed, historical evidence does not support the legend of the 24-dollar purchase of Manhattan Island. Stuyvesant did, however, rule with an "iron fist," but loved New Amsterdam and its people, staying on after the colony fell to the English. To this day, street, neighborhood, and borough names (Broadway, Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn), and the popularity of some foods (pretzels), reflect the early Dutch influence in New York. The tightly written text is supported by extraordinary illustrations, maps, paintings, and quotes from primary sources. An absorbing story of a man and a place.

Description from School Library Journal

Seeds of a Nation:
- New York

By Stuart A. Kallen
Even before it became a state in 1788, New York was a multicultural region populated by Native Americans, Africans, Dutch, Germans, English, and others. New York examines the colony's long, exciting history from the Iroquois through the Revolutionary War and statehood.

Description from Publisher

The Declaration of Independence and Robert Livingston of New York

By Kathy Furgang
Robert Livingston was born into a wealthy and prominent family in New York City. By 1771, however, Robert had been removed from his judiciary post for speaking out against the British government. His voice was instrumental in the shaping of the document, and would remain instrumental in both the young country and the new state of New York.

Description from Publisher

Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence:
The Story of New York's African Burial Ground

By Joyce Hansen & Gary McGowan

Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

What is the significance of the African Burial Ground discovered in lower Manhattan in 1991? Why did it receive National Historic Landmark status in 1993? How does a burial ground help us to learn about the lives of people during a particular time? All of these questions are answered with fascinating historical and archaeological documentation that helps readers to understand the lives of Africans who came to New Amsterdam in 1626 with the Dutch West India Company, as well as black slaves from South and Central America and the Carribean islands. Through careful research archeologists piece together the lives of these black African farmers, soldiers, artisans, laborers, and slaves. Sadly, there were no diaries, written records, or oral histories because they were not allowed to learn to read or write. Thus the story of these colonial Afro-Americans and the injustices they suffered can finally be validated by this sacred burial ground. The authors carefully explain the tools and procedures archeologists use as they sift and study the skeletons and artifacts in the graves. For example, artifacts in one grave were buttons which were cleaned and studied under the microscope. The buttons' insignia was from the British Navy, worn on uniforms during the American Revolution. The authors provide a detailed historical context about the evolution of slavery after New York become a British colony in 1664. These chapters dominate a large portion of the book; however, African slavery in New York City in the seventeenth and eighteenth century is not common knowledge. The book is informative and might whet the curiosity of young readers who want to learn about archeology and its importance in discovering significant historical information. Because a group of citizens organized and pressured the government, the site is visited by many students and scholars. The African Burial Ground conducts tours, school programs, and seminars; it also has a newsletter that is distributed worldwide. This book is well written and attractively designed, and readers should have access to it in social studies classrooms as well as in libraries. It will generate lots of class discussion and writing projects.

Description from VOYA

At first glance an unlikely subject for an informational book for children, this account of the excavation of an African burial ground discovered beneath the streets of Manhattan in 1991, is well-written and gripping. It not only describes the excavation, but tells the story of "a people who had no opportunity to leave us either a written or oral history to 'tell' us who they were, what was important to them, what they believed, and how they lived." Detailed descriptions of particular burials dating from the 1690s to 1796 and the archaeological techniques involved are skillfully linked with the history of people of African descent from colonial times to the present. Well-documented with notes, a bibliography, sidebars, and an index, the book is illustrated with black and white photographs, many of the graves and their contents, and with reproductions of historical drawings, portraits, and maps.

Description from Children's Literature

Skeletons uncovered in 1991 during the construction of a new federal office building provide a dramatic focal point for this careful account of African-American life in New York City during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Expecting to find perhaps fifty burials in the old "Negroes Burying Ground," archaeologists eventually uncovered more than four hundred grave sites. The intriguing modern-day discovery recounted in the early chapters and illustrated with small photographs is the most compelling part of the story, but the authors go on to a sobering, occasionally exhortative, history of the enslaved and free people of African origins who came to New York from many parts of the world in these centuries. They explain the information scientists and historians are gleaning from the disinterred skeletons, and they also draw on many scholarly sources of recent decades to examine periods of slave revolt prior to the Revolutionary War. Hansen and McGowan achieve much as they provide important details of both New York and national history and also demonstrate how "the important work of understanding our collective past continues." Some will be inspired to visit the recently established landmark site of the burial ground; many will ponder aspects of the story and want to read more. Maps, chapter notes, bibliography, and an index are included.

Description fromHorn Book

Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson

By Joan Elizabeth Goodman
It was there. Henry Hudson was certain of it. Beyond the impenetrable fog and crushing ice of the North Atlantic lay the dream of kings, merchants and learned geographers - a passage to the Orient.

Sailing small wooden boats well above the arctic circle, guided by maps and charts that were based on rumor and hope as much as fact, surrounded by crews that shared neither his belief nor his commitment, Henry Hudson searched again and again for what was not there. In 1611, his mutinous crew set him adrift on the freezing waters of the bay that would one day bear his name.

Beyond the Sea of Ice is the story of Henry Hudson's four harrowing voyages of discovery. Bringing the skills of an experienced novelist to her first non- fiction book, author Joan Elizabeth Goodman creates an epic narrative of Henry Hudson's passionate quest. Fernando Rangel's paintings capture the icy beauty of the North Atlantic, the lushness of the new world and the cruelty and death that accompanied a voyage of discovery. Actual entries from the journals of each voyage bring the reader directly into life at sea in the 17th century.

Description from Publisher

This attractive volume from the Great Explorers Books series begins with an introduction that sets the stage for the Age of Exploration and Hudson's part in it. A foldout map indicating the routes of Hudson's four voyages of exploration extends beyond the pages, making it accessible to readers as they follow his story through the text. Each chapter focuses on one voyage, including its sponsors, purpose, difficulties (sometimes calamities), and its outcome. Full-page, bordered paintings provide dramatic visions of events, while small ink drawings and maps are also effective. An introduction to Hudson's voyages that will spark readers' interest.

Description from Booklist

Recounting each of the four voyages Henry Hudson undertook in hopes of discovering the Northwest Passage, the book presents a clear, if undramatic, overview of the explorer's accomplishments and sad fate. Excerpts from the diaries of Hudson and some of his shipmates accompany the text, which is illustrated with occasionally static full-page paintings. A complete list of Hudson's crew is included.

Description from Horn Book

Ride for Freedom: The Story of Sybil Ludington

By Judy Hominick, Jeanne Spreier
Silver Moon Press is delighted to announce the launch of a brand new biographical nonfiction series. This series will focus on the true stories of heroic young people, whose courage, independence, and determination to live free, will inspire a whole new generation of young readers. Each book is reviewed for accuracy by a historical expert.

Description from Publisher

Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold

By Jean Fritz
A study of the life and character of the brilliant Revolutionary War general who deserted to the British for money.

Description from Publisher

Anthony Wayne: American General (Revolutionary War Leaders)

By Patricia A. Grabowski
Anthony Wayne's military career saw extreme highs and lows. He was at the Paoli Massacre, and he received a gold medal for bravery in the attack on Stony Point. Learn more about a soldier who had the military in his blood.

Description from Publisher

Lower Manhattan: A History Map

By Ephemera Press
Lower Manhattan: A History Map tells the story of New York City’s oldest neighborhood, from the arrival of Giovanni da Verrazano in New York Harbor in 1524 through the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. With illustrations of landmark buildings, historic figures and major events by artist Tony Millionaire, the full-color map makes a beautiful poster worthy of framing. The back of the map contains the itinerary for a complete walking tour of the historic sites of Lower Manhattan. Designed for scholars, tourists, students, and city buffs, the map provides a perfect introduction to New York City and its history.

Lower Manhattan has known loss -- The Great Fire of 1835 almost obliterated the district. Ten years later, a second fire destroyed most of what survived or was rebuilt after the first inferno. In 2001, the neighborhood was jolted by the destruction of the World Trade Center. The events of 9/11/01 affected not just Lower Manhattan, but the whole United States, and much of the world. It is impossible to visit this area now without thinking of that tragic day. This combination map, walking-tour guide, and wall poster includes 9/11 as part of the history of Lower Manhattan.

This neighborhood has experienced lows, but it has also witnessed some of America's greatest moments: the Revolution, the creation of the Constitution, and the birth of the first modern democracy. Here monuments, museums, and historic buildings remind us of the freedom we enjoy, the wars we fought to defend our liberty, and our proud history as a refuge for the oppressed and downtrodden. In Lower Manhattan, one can marvel at the wonders of engineering and see the ongoing strength of American capitalism. This is New York's oldest neighborhood. Its inspiring past assures its future.

Each CultureMap explores a specific New York City neighborhood, focusing on the people and places that have made that neighborhood famous. The front side of each publication features a beautifully illustrated pictorial map done by a well-known artist. The backsides provide the itinerary for a neighborhood walking tour that has been carefully researched by a team of educators. CultureMaps are designed for scholars, tourists, locals, students and others interested in history and culture. The maps are available in both a folded format and as unfolded posters suitable for framing.

Description from Publisher

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