The Past Comes to Life with Historical Fiction
By Barbara Bietz
Historical fiction allows the reader to become full immersed in a specific time and place while connecting to carefully crafted characters that bring the time period to life. If your student struggles with history, find a great age appropriate novel about the time period. History is anything but boring! My benchmark for worthy books in the genre is whether or not I feel compelled to do further research about the characters or setting before I finish the book. From Typhoid Mary to Nazi Youth, the following pager turners will not disappoint.
Good Fortune by Noni Carter tells the story of Ayanna, a young girl who is kidnapped and taken into slavery. Ayanna’s name is changed to Anna. Her life on the plantation is revealed in great detail. While appropriate for teens, this is a serious novel with realistic, gritty scenes of mistreatment. In the face of danger, Anna does create meaningful relationships, learns to read and write, and never gives up hope for a brighter future. The horrors of slavery on not sugarcoated in this novel that visits a dreadful time in the history of America.
Deadly by Julie Chibbaro offers a unique perspective on “Typhoid Mary.” Young Prudence is a disillusioned teen who get a job working for the health department. The job gives Prudence a focus that inspires her to help solve the mystery of the serious illness that is taking so many lives. Written in diary form, Prudence’s words illuminate life in the early 1900’s with a deeply personal perspective. The medical investigation unfolds as a compelling mystery. The truth behind the historical lore of Typhoid Mary will have readers feverishly turning pages.
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow explores the history of Nazi Germany through the eyes of Karl Stern. Karl never thought being Jewish made him different from his peers, until the bullies of the Nazi Youth attack him at school. When his father’s friend Max Schmeling, a National German Boxing Champion, offers Karl boxing lessons, everything changes. As the Nazi’s begin to control the lives of Germans, Karl builds the strength he needs to survive. The world of boxing juxtaposed with the Nazi takeover in Germany makes a compelling story.
History can be interesting and exciting. Historical fiction can broaden readers’ knowledge about the past and the present. If you need a book about a specific time period, check with your school or community librarian.