Today, Andrew Varga, author of THE LAST SAXON KING: A Jump in Time Novel is joining us today to tell us why historical fiction is an important genre for middle schoolers. Thank you iRead Boot Tours and Andrew for the guest post. Check out the post, book details and enter the giveaway!
Four Reasons Why Historical Fiction is an Important Genre for Middle Schoolers
Encouraging a child to read is one of the best things you can do for them. It improves vocabulary, increases knowledge, and exercises the brain. But there are so many genres out there—mystery, action, romance, science fiction, fantasy, just to name a few—how do you choose the right book for a child? If you are looking for something that will be enjoyable to read, while at the same time providing some sort of educational value, why not try historical fiction?
For those who are not familiar with the genre, it consists of books that tell fictional stories in a real historical setting. A thrilling murder mystery set in bombed-out London during World War II, a passionate romance during the reign of Augustus in the Roman Empire, and an action-packed adventure during the First Crusade would all be part of this genre. A good historical fiction novel is a finely crafted blend of interesting historical detail, with exciting plots and characters to make the journey into the past memorable. It will both engage a child’s interest and teach them about history. But if that’s not enough to convince you to try a historical fiction book for your child, then consider the following advantages of the genre.
Historical Fiction provides immersive learning about other cultures and times
Some people find history in schools to be dull—just lists of names and dates and events that are challenging to connect with and understand. But an excellent historical fiction novel is like a time machine that transports us to a distant place in our past, and fully immerses us in a new world where history comes alive. We aren’t just told about events—we watch them unfold through the eyes of the characters, who become our tour guides to a different land and time. We are shown what people of the time ate and wore, how they lived their daily lives and what they believed. We can visit the crowded Roman Forum and hear orators dressed in togas shouting from the Rostrum. We can cross the deck of an 18th-century British sailing vessel and hear the wind in its sails and the waves splashing against the hull as it slices through the waters of the Caribbean. With historical fiction, the sounds, the sights, and the smells of the past all come alive.
Historical Fiction teaches the significance of the past
In our modern-day world with computers, cars, planes and spacecraft, it may seem kind of strange to read a book about events that took place in the past and hope to learn something useful. But the world did not arrive at its current place magically. Thousands of years of invention, discovery, struggle, and warfare created scientific breakthroughs, defined the borders, and shaped the world we know today. Through historical fiction, we can learn not only about the people and events that shaped our modern world, but we can also get a first-hand glimpse of the factors that drove these brave people to challenge the norms of their time and fight oppression, win freedom, right wrongs, or make brave discoveries. And, just as important, we can also learn about the great failures of the past, and hopefully, learn from the mistakes of others.
Historical Fiction softens the blow when teaching the harsher parts of history
Unfortunately, not all history is pleasant. The last few thousand years have seen wars, plagues, slavery, genocide, and humans generally not being kind to one another. It is not easy to sit a child down and explain all of these darker parts of our shared history. But historical fiction allows for the harsher parts of our past to be taught in a more palatable manner for younger minds. It allows them to read and feel the struggles of different people, races, and cultures, and come to a better understanding of their own place in the world. And, in cases where a family member has experienced their own struggles, historical fiction can be a gateway for children to understand what previous generations have gone through.
Historical Fiction can teach values
We live in an age where communication and globalization have shrunk our world so that if something happens halfway across the globe, we can hear about it in minutes. The days of intrepid explorers sailing off into dark uncharted waters are long past. There are no more brave pioneer families setting out with only a wagon full of goods to carve out a new home for themselves in a harsh and unforgiving wilderness. Historical fiction can take us back to those times, and reveal to us the courage, endurance, determination, and teamwork that made our ancestors persevere against tremendous odds. And, as we relive these experiences, we can think about how we ourselves would have reacted to the situations. This allows us the ability to empathize with viewpoints that are different from our own or discover alternative ways to handle our own problems.
So when thinking about the next book to purchase for a child, why not try historical fiction? The right book can spark a child’s curiosity and send them off on a lifelong journey through the past, which can make them better prepared for their role in the future.
Thank you Andrew Varga for this informative guest post. Andrew is a historian, educator, and author of The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel released March 7, 2023. He is based in Ontario, Canada.