Teaching With Historical Fiction

Why Teach With His­tor­i­cal Fic­tion by Jane Hedeen, Indi­ana His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Coor­di­na­tor, Stu­dent and Edu­ca­tor Pro­grams (Indianahistory.org)

We’d also like to share the fol­low­ing from an essay by 5th grade teacher, Terry Lindquist who was rec­og­nized by the National Coun­cil for the Social Stud­ies as National Ele­men­tary Teacher of the Year. It’s a won­der­ful piece on why his­tor­i­cal fic­tion works so well in the classroom.

Why & How I Teach with His­tor­i­cal Fic­tion
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

•    Tips for Choos­ing Good His­tor­i­cal Fiction

•    Fif­teen Fab­u­lous New His­tor­i­cal Fic­tion Books

•    Is Poc­a­hon­tas Real? Dis­cov­er­ing Where His­tory Stops and the Story Starts

Con­tinue read­ing the essay here.

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