When I was in high school, I took the AP US History exam. After the test, a couple of friends mentioned one of the multiple choice questions that neither of them could answer. “Oh, it was C,” I said. When they asked me how I knew that, even though it wasn’t covered in class, I said, “It was in one of the Felicity books.”
I really enjoyed history in school, but most of the historical knowledge I retain probably has to do with novels I read. (The American Girl books cover most American History for me.) As Whitney Etchison says in this post at The Hub, history isn’t about dates and facts–it’s about the story of people’s lives. And what better way to engage in those stories than through great fiction?
She also offers some great options for historical YA fiction, including Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A few others I’d suggest:
- A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Great combination of murder mystery and real life drama at the turn of the 20th century.
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Andersen. Expertly written and unexpected Revolutionary War-era story.
- The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood. Lots of Elizabethan fun, with orphan thieves and Shakespeare’s troupe of actors.
Maybe fiction can’t take the place of high school history classes, but novels like these can certainly engage readers and get them emotionally invested in historical events.
Any other historical fiction favorites to add to the list?