Easy historical fiction books
Why one teacher uses historical fiction in the classroom, tips for choosing good historical fiction, and strategies for helping students differentiate between fact and fiction
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Here's the story on historical fiction in my classroom: It illuminates time periods, helps me integrate the curriculum, and enriches social studies.
Just take Amy's word for it. At the end of our westward-expansion unit, while modeling her journal entry after a fictional account we'd read, this fifth grader wrote: "Dear Diary, July 30, 1852: This journey has been heart-wrenching, thirst-quenching, and most of all, an adventure I will never forget." Blending stories into a study of history turns the past into a dynamic place.
Of course, historical fiction doesn't stand alone in my instructional program; even the best literature cannot address skills and processes unique to social studies that kids must learn. I have students balance fiction with fact, validate historical hypotheses with research. Historical fiction is the spice.
To help you build good fiction into your social studies program, below you'll find:
Seven Reasons I Teach With Historical Fiction
- It piques kids' curiosity. Although I sometimes begin units with chapter books, more often I start with picture books because they're engaging and full of information. Before I read aloud, we make a class list of what students already know about the topic, and then I say: "When I finish reading, I'd like each of you to ask a question related to the story. The only rule is, no question can be asked twice." Afterward, I launch investigations, saying, "Now that we've looked at what happened to one pioneer family, let's find out if their experience was typical or unusual."
- It levels the playing field. Some kids come to class with a deep background knowledge to draw upon, while others have just shallow reservoirs. Reading historical fiction promotes academic equity because comparing books from one unit to the next provides kids with equal opportunities to develop historical analogies. I ask, "How is the story we read for this unit similar to and different from the one we read last month?"
- It hammers home everyday details. Picture books today provide visual and contextual clues to how people lived, what their speech was like, how they dressed, and so on. When accurately portrayed, these details are like a savings account that students can draw on and supplement - each deposit of information provides a richer understanding of the period.
- It puts people back into history. Social studies texts are often devoted to coverage rather than depth. Too often, individuals - no matter how famous or important - are reduced to a few sentences. Children have difficulty converting these cryptic descriptions and snapshots into complex individuals who often had difficult choices to make, so myths and stereotypes flourish. Good historical fiction presents individuals as they are, neither all good nor all bad.
- It presents the complexity of issues. If you were to draw a topographical map of an issue, there would be hills and valleys, because most issues are multifaceted. Yet traditionally, historical issues have been presented to children as flat, one-dimensional, or single-sided. Historical fiction restores the landscape of history, warts and all, so children can discover that dilemmas are age-old. My kids often make lists of the costs and benefits of historical decisions. For example, they draw two posters - one encouraging American colonists to join the Patriots, the other urging them to stay loyal to King George. They also write 35- to 45-second infomercials for each side.
- It promotes multiple perspectives. It's important for students to share their perspectives, while respecting the opinions of others. Historical fiction introduces children to characters who have different points of view and offers examples of how people deal differently with problems. It also informs students about the interpretive nature of history, showing how authors and illustrators deal with an issue in different ways.
- It connects social studies learning to the rest of our school day. Historical fiction, while enhancing understanding of the past, can help you integrate social studies across the curriculum.
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Step-Into-Reading)
Book (Random House)
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Kind of a weird one..2008-08-19 20:31:47 by mamamurphy
But I REALLY loved The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (I hope I spelled her name right). Definitely not a book I would typically read, but a friend recommended it, and I could not put it down. It's about a woman who goes in search of Vlad the Impaler (i.e., Dracula). It isn't a traditional vampire book or anything, in fact, it's more of a historical account of the Dracula legend, and I thought it was really fascinating. Definitely not one of those easy-to-read novellas. I read it last year, and still consider it one of the top 20 books I've read.
Of course, I also love all of the Phillipa Gregory books, but I'm kind of a sucker for historical fiction :).
Oh my GOSH!! Where is this??2008-02-02 18:05:34 by titus2mamato4
We buy all sorts of stuff. I like romances (I admit it!). DD1 especially loves animal books. Especially non fiction. She bought "How to care for your Betta fish" today...doesn't have one, but hey, just in case. She has TONS of those type of books. She also loves classics, and stuff like Redwall books. DD2 is working on easy chapter books, especially Magic Treehouse, Scooby Doo, Animal Ark, etc. DD3 and DS like pretty much any picture books or board books, and DD3 will be starting on the easy readers within a couple months, I think.
Dh doesn't read much, but he loves books about tools, woodworking, etc
Can someone recommend a new series?2008-04-17 12:33:04 by a_n_allen
I'm on the eleventh novel of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series... and I'm trying to prolong the reading as long as I can because I know the next book will more than likely not be released, or not be very good.
I don't have any desire to read Conan, his other series, but I love the way he writes. He immersses the writer in a world they can SEE, with characters that are easy to relate to because their depth is so clear. I love his detail and discriptions and diversity of character.
So I'm wondering... what do you recommend? What series have you read blows your mind?
Someone recommended "Dark Tower", but I have no desire to read anything where the main character's name is "Gunslinger" or whatever
Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown
Book (WaterBrook Press)
Book (Berkley Trade)
George Washington and the General's Dog (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)
Book (Random House Books for Young Readers)