Historical Fiction in the Classroom

I’ve never given the genre of “historical fiction” a lot of thought. In my opinion, most books that people read seem to count as historical fiction, if it takes place some time in the past. However, this past week, I got a better understanding of the book genre from reading Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea. Her novel focused on a specific historical event, and made up fiction to fit the potential perspectives of people living through the event.

Salt To The Sea

Speaking of Sepetys, I noticed on the list shared in the article https://www.epicreads.com/blog/the-age-of-ya-a-timeline-of-historical-fiction/ , that most of the authors of historical fiction are female. Not only are most of the authors women, it also appears that a lot of the novels are focused on women. I think that this can really be a good thing for female readers. It seems like it could be extremely beneficial to have historical novels written from the female perspective, when in the past female voices were not heard. When I noticed that about the list, I was concerned that male students might not feel like they can relate much to that type of literature. However, the more that I thought about it, I realized that there is so much out there written by men, that it would be beneficial for boys to hear about history from a perspective different from their own.

Historical fiction can open up the imaginations of students to really attempt to put themselves in the places we read about in the past. This genre can really help deepen readers’ understanding of the implications of specific events and empathize with the emotions of the people who experienced it. As teacher’s, it is our job to help open back up the minds and imaginations of our students, the traditional school setting tries to close.

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