Literacy and Historical Fiction | 123Read&Write

The genre of Historical Fiction tells a story that is set in the past. The story's setting is taken from history, and may contain historical figures, however, the main characters are usually fictional. Historical Fiction offers the perfect     opportunity to engage your child of life and events in year’s past; but also grow their love for reading, as well.

Historical Fiction can offer the perfect opportunity to not only engage your child about life in year’s past; it also can be a history lesson of sorts. This literary genre enables the child to view and experience the world from a time long past. There’s nothing more exciting than for a child to be an engaged reader and spectator to historical triumphs and tragedies.

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With regards to the Historical Fiction genre, the most important literary element is setting. The setting provides the backdrop to allow the child to truly engage themselves in the time period and its corresponding events. So, where can your child end up in the land of Historical Fiction? The following are some examples of this genre, which awaits your child/student should they choose to take this journey.

  • Experience historic Philadelphia during the throes of an epidemic Yellow Fever outbreak, in Fever 1793.
  • A Nazi concentration camp, in Number the Stars.
  • The Salem Witch Trials, in Mary, Bloody Mary.
  • The Great Depression, in Bud, Not Buddy.
  • In Elizabethan England, in The Shakespeare Stealer.
  • Japanese and American relations, in Bat 6.

Keep in mind, often what history has to show us is not a pretty picture. As a parent and/or teacher, historical material must be properly previewed and often its topics need to be handled with sensitivity (i.e. the Holocaust). On the other hand, Historical Fiction is often the first opportunity a child is given to learn that the world can indeed be ugly and dangerous. However, this genre can also educate children about the strength of the human spirit and humanities resolve in trying situations.

One of the marvels of Historical Fiction (if approached and taught well) is that it allows the child to learn and experience historical events from a safe distance. For example, a child reading about the ravages of Yellow Fever, in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793, can experience the horrors of such an epidemic; but they can also be reassured that Yellow Fever has been eradicated from most developed nations. Additionally, those that still contract Yellow Fever are offered far better treatments than in the late 1700’s.

No matter where your child and/or student may choose to start their historical journey; through vividly descriptive writing and meticulous research, these authors will surely bring the past to life.