Anywhere but Now: Time Travel in Children’s Literature

As finals approach and the lure of summer vacation beckons, just about everyone wants to be somewhere–anywhere–else. It’s the perfect time of year to celebrate a children’s classic and explore some times and places other than our own. Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Award-winning novel, A Wrinkle in Time, was published 50 years ago in 1962. Her works have influenced subsequent children’s authors in subtle and–in the case of the 2010 Newbery winner When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead–not so subtle ways.

This post contains a list of fiction and nonfiction children’s books about time travel. To find additional books on this topic in the catalog, try using the subject words “time travel” or “space and time” with “juvenile fiction” or “juvenile Literature.”

Angliss, Sarah. Cosmic Journeys: A Beginner’s Guide to Space and Time Travel. 1998.
This book looks at the future of space travel including nuclear fission-powered spacecraft, teleporting, and time travel. Age 8-12.
[Education Storage Q. S.629.41 An46c]

Asher, Jay and Carolyn Mackler. The Future of Us. 2011.
It’s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet. Emma just got her first computer and Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on–and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out. Age 12+
[Center for Children’s Books, Uni High Fiction S. As353f]

Brennan, Herbie. Doomsday Box. 2011.
Working on a highly-classified espionage project, four English teenagers go back in time to the Cold War in 1962 to prevent a global outbreak of the bubonic plague in the twenty-first century. Age 12+
[Center for Children’s Books S. B755d]

Buckley-Archer, Linda. Gideon the Cutpurse: Being the First Part of the Gideon Trilogy. 2006.
Ignored by his father and sent to Derbyshire for the weekend, twelve-year-old Peter and his new friend, Kate, are accidentally transported back in time to 1763 England where they are befriended by a reformed cutpurse. Age 10+
[Center for Children’s Books S. B856g]

Cross, Julie. Tempest. 2011.
After his girlfriend Holly is fatally shot during a violent struggle, nineteen-year-old Jackson uses his supernatural abilities and travels back in time two years, where he falls in love with Holly all over again, learns that his father is a spy, and discovers powerful enemies of time who will stop at nothing to recruit him for their own purposes. Age 14+
[Uni High Fiction C88t]

Davis, Terry. H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. 2008.
This is a graphic novel adaptation of H.G. Wells’ story, in which a scientist invents a machine that carries him into the future. While there, he meets a race of gentle humans and evil underground creatures. Even worse, his time machine, his only chance to escape, is trapped deep inside the Morlock caverns. Age 10+
[Education S Collection S.741.5973 D298h]

Douglis, Carole. Ting and the Possible Futures. 2008.
Ting and her friends travel to two different futures using a time machine. The first future Ting explores is one of drought, submerged coastal cities, and refugee shantytowns. In the second possible future, Ting sees a huge change in attitude as well as landscape because people acted in time and averted the worst effects of climate change. Age 8-12.
[Available online at]

Elliott, Zeta. A Wish After Midnight. 2010.
Genna Colon desperately wants to escape from a drug-infested world of poverty, and every day she wishes for a different life. One day Genna’s wish is granted and she is instantly transported back to Civil War-era Brooklyn. Age 12+
[Education S Collection S. El589w]

Gier, Kerstin. Ruby Red. 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth discovers that she, rather than her well-prepared cousin, carries a time-travel gene, and soon she is journeying with Gideon, who shares the gift, through historical London trying to discover whom they can trust. Age 12+
[Center for Children’s Books, Uni High Fiction S. G362r:E]

Guibord, Marissa. Warped. 2011.
When seventeen-year-old Tessa Brody comes into possession of an ancient unicorn tapestry, she is plummeted into sixteenth-century England, where her life is intertwined with that of a handsome nobleman who is desperately trying to escape a terrible fate. Age 12+
[Education S Collection, Center for Children’s Books S. G94111w]

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Found. 2008.
When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time. Age 10-14.
[Center for Children’s Books S. H117f]

Jones, Diana Wynne. A Tale of Time City. 1987.
In 1939, an eleven-year-old London girl is kidnapped to Time City, a place existing outside the stream of time and manipulating the history of humanity, where she finds the inhabitants facing their worst hour of crisis. Age 10+
[Center for Children’s Books S.J713T]

L’Engle, Madeleine. Wrinkle in Time. 1962.
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government. Using a tesseract, or a wrinkle in time, they travel across time and space to find him. Age 10+
[Education S Collection, Center for Children’s Books S. L547W]

Morton, Alan Q. Einstein’s Theories of Relativity. 2006.
This book covers the discovery and development of Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, which changed the way science thought of time and space. Age 12+
[Education Storage SB. E357m]

Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Tree House [Series]
Eight-year-old Jack and his younger sister Annie find a magic treehouse that allows them to travel back in time. Over the course of the series, they have gone on nearly 50 adventures in places such as ancient Egypt and the Titanic. Age 5-10.
[Education S Collection and Education Storage]

Rogers, Gregory. The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard. 2004.
A boy playing among the warehouses of London kicks a soccer ball into an abandoned theater. There he finds an enchanted cape that transports him back in time right onto the stage of one of William Shakespeare’s plays! Age 5-10.
[Education Storage, Center for Children’s Books Q. SE. R631b]

Scarrow, Alex. Time Riders. 2010.
Rescued from imminent death, teens Maddy, Liam, and Sal join forces in 2001 Manhattan to correct changes in history made by other time travelers, using a “time bubble” surrounding the attack on the Twin Towers to hide their journeys. Age 12+
[Center for Children’s Books S. Sca76t]

Scieszka, Jon. Time Warp Trio [Series]
Joe, Fred, and Sam receive a magic book that allows them to travel forward and backward in time. The trio has a variety of wacky, humorous adventures in medieval Europe, Neolithic times, and the year 2095. Age 8-12.
[Education Storage]

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. 2009.
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970s television game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid,” a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.
[Education S Collection, Center for Children’s Books S. St311w]

Winterson, Jeanette. Tanglewreck. 2006.
Eleven-year-old Silver sets out to find the Timekeeper–a clock that controls time–and to protect it from falling into the hands of two people who want to use the device for their own nefarious ends. Age 10+
[Center for Children’s Books S. W736ta]