While the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetimes, the spread of disease is not new to the human race. These fiction books tell the stories of young people during epidemics throughout history. Some readers may find these books comforting, others may find them disturbing. Still other readers may be grateful for modern medicine.
These books are available for free check-out with your Wilmette Public Library card through our digital services Hoopla and/or Digital Library of Illinois (accessible on mobile devices with Libby, by OverDrive).
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah, who is hiding in her house, plan to rescue Noah's father from the quarantined Chinatown, and save everyone they love from contracting the plague that is spreading in 1900 San Francisco. Suggested for grades 4–7.
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic. Suggested for grades 5–8.
Eel, an orphan, and his best friend Florrie must help Dr. John Snow prove that cholera is spread through water, and not poisonous air, when an epidemic sweeps across their London neighborhood in 1854. Suggested for grades 4–7.
As the plague decimates London in 1665 and an assassin threatens the apothecary's life, apprentice Christopher Rowe and his faithful friend Tom, following a trail of puzzles, riddles, and secrets, risk their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy. Suggested for grades 4–7.
Against the ominous backdrop of the 1918 influenza epidemic, new girl Annie is claimed as best friend by Elsie, the tattletale, liar, and thief of the class. But Annie would rather spend time with the other girls, since Elsie is so mean. When Elsie dies of influenza, Annie thinks she’s free of her torment—until the bully returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and take revenge. Suggested for grades 4–7.
During the 1918 influenza outbreak, nine-year-old Rettie seeks ways to make Thanksgiving special for her siblings and ailing mother. Suggested for grades 1–4.