Does It?

Mary-Louise Jensen over at the new blog, An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, thinks historical fiction needs a new name. She suggests “romantic adventure” instead. But wouldn’t that create a different subset of kids resisting? There are, I must point out, kids who equate romantic with kissing. And kissing is something not a single one of my fourth graders can stand when we watch movies. Frankly, I think changing the name of something doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that kids will pick up books that look appealing and, most of all, have word-of-mouth street creed. Romantic adventure, historical fiction, fiction, chapter book, book — a really good story is what they care about.

5 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction

5 responses to “Does It?

  1. I’m not s sure about this. With that logic, science fiction = science = school subject. And plenty of kids love science fiction. The problem is with the actual teaching of history, at least at my school. For most kids, it’s really dry and all about dates. I think historical fiction in a history class can be a blessing, because it often proves that they were real people. Once you understand their life, it’s easier to understand why they made decisions to go to war, etc.

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  2. I am sad that the teaching of history is so boring, but I have to say I don’t think the answer is to use historical fiction in the class. Historical fiction is firstly fiction and so is not necessarily historically accurate. Nor does reading it teach you to think historically. I realize that it can be incredibly boring to just read a textbook and memorize a bunch of facts, but history doesn’t have to be taught or learned that way. The real stuff is great to read too!

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  3. History itself is not boring to me. I realized that my post above made it sound like that. I love history- I want to be a historian. My 8th grade class read historical fiction and it was the first step to truly understanding history for me.

    For my AP Euro class, we are reading various historical fiction books. I must disagree. They are already making me more intrigued while before, I only enjoyed American history.

    Ah- “Historical fiction is firstly fiction and so is not necessarily historically accurate.” I really don’t think that we should be reading them if they are inaccurate. Historical fiction should be respectful to what really happened, and be as realistic as possible. Of course, there are facts that the author would never know, but s/he should always research from primary documents. They help so much!

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  4. Historical fiction can make one want to learn more about real historical characters or a particular era or event. It can be used to enhance history classes in that way (if the instructor points out what is true in the fiction and what is fiction – or older students can research that for themselves).

    I agree, calling it “romantic adventure” is just going to create more problems than it solves.

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  5. I’ve written here and elsewhere that the thing about using historical fiction this way is that it makes it seem as if history is boring unless it is spiced-up with fiction. I just feel that to DO history, really do it is great fun, interesting, and exciting. Especially primary sources. (I’ve written a few books and articles about teaching history — you can find out more in the STUFF page above.)

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