Historical Fiction

The best way to learn history is not always in a textbook. (That's probably the worst way, really, but more on that elsewhere.) While learning history through novels can be taken too far (it is fiction after all), there's much to be said for getting a feel for the Civil War through books like The Red Badge of Courage or Across Five Aprils, or learning about the deep rifts between Saxons and Normans in Medieval England through Scott's Ivanhoe.

A well-researched historical novel imparts something no list of names and dates can—a picture of life among a particular people at a particular time, the way they thought, the way they ate, who they admired, how they traveled. Sometimes readers are introduced to real historical figures and events from an intimate perspective, not the stale cardboard presentations common in schools.

There's plenty of nonsense available, of course, and just because the cover says a book takes place in Renaissance Italy or ancient Egypt doesn't mean it's a good book, or even that it's historical fiction in the true sense. A writer who simply transposes stories on different time periods isn't really saying anything about that time period, they're just trying to inflate sales with an appeal to the exotic and unfamiliar.

Such bogus historical fiction is really just fantasy. The good stuff is real and bright and dusty and loud, just like an old Roman city or a battle between Roundheads and Cavaliers. It reflects the religious sentiments of the characters as they would have been, such as in Lilli Thal's brilliant Medieval epic Mimus. It shows how one small action can lead to many much larger events, as happens frequently in C.S. Forester's Hornblower series.

Whether you're into the technical descriptions of battles found in Henty's boy-versus-the-world stories, or prefer the romance of The Scarlet Pimpernel, or like to break your heart over and over with books like Amos Fortune, Free Man, historical fiction is above all fiction of the present—not to be kept in the annals of the past, it shows us that the people of long ago (or not so long ago) are not so different than the people of today.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

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30 Items found Print
Active Filters: 1st grade (Ages 6-7)
American Army of Two
by Janet Greeson
Reprint from First Avenue Editions
for 1st-3rd grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: A05-01A)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Big Balloon Race
An I Can Read Book Level 3
by Eleanor Coerr
from HarperCollins
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
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Big Balloon Race
An I Can Read Book Level 3
by Eleanor Coerr
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Buttons for General Washington
by Peter & Connie Roop
from Carolrhoda Books, Inc.
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in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: B01-09C)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Chang's Paper Pony
An I Can Read Book Level 3
by Eleanor Coerr
from HarperCollins
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Clown of God
by Tomie dePaola
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Realistic Fiction for Kindergarten-2nd grade
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Emily
by Michael Bedard
from Dell Publishing
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F is for Freedom
by Roni Schotter
from Scholastic Press
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Grandfather's Journey
by Allen Say
Reprint from Sandpiper Books
Realistic Fiction for Kindergarten-2nd grade
1994 Caldecott Medal winner
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
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Grandfather's Journey
by Allen Say
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I Love America!
from Golden Books
in American History Reference (Location: B04-03C)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Island Boy
by Barbara Cooney
from Puffin Books
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Josiah True and the True Art Maker
by Amy Littlesugar
from Simon and Schuster
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Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie
by Peter & Connie Roop
from Carolrhoda Books, Inc.
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
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Library for Juana
by Pat Mora
1st edition from National Geographic
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Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
by Henry W. Longfellow
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Minstrel in the Tower
by Gloria Skurzynski
from Random House
Historical Fiction for 1st-4th grade
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New Coat for Anna
by Harriet Ziefert
from Random House
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
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Obadiah the Bold
by Brinton Turkle
from Beautiful Feet Books
Historical Fiction for Kindergarten-3rd grade
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$8.95
On The Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed Into the Town
by Arnold Lobel
for Preschool- 3rd Grade
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Pioneer Cat
by William H. Hooks
from Random House
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
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Rachel and Obadiah
by Brinton Turkle
from Beautiful Feet Books
Historical Fiction for Kindergarten-3rd grade
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Riding the Pony Express
by Clyde Robert Bulla
from Avyx, Inc.
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
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Saint Valentine
by Robert Sabuda
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for Preschool-3rd grade
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$3.50 (2 in stock)
School Days
Little House Chapter Book #4
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
from HarperTrophy
for 1st-3rd grade
in Adapted or Abridged (Location: A10-03F)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Thanksgiving Story
by Alice Dalgliesh
from Simon and Schuster
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
1955 Caldecott Honor Book
in Pilgrims at Plymouth (Location: B01-08B)
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Thanksgiving Story
by Alice Dalgliesh
from InquisiCorp Corporation
Historical Fiction for 1st-3rd grade
1955 Caldecott Honor Book
in Pilgrims at Plymouth (Location: B01-08B)
$3.00 (2 in stock)
Thy Friend, Obadiah
by Brinton Turkle
from Puffin Books
Realistic Animal Stories for Kindergarten-3rd grade
1970 Caldecott Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
$6.99
Tree That Would Not Die
by Ellen Levine
from Scholastic Inc.
for Preschool- 3rd Grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
When Jessie Came Across the Sea
by Amy Hest
1st edition from Candlewick Press
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
$8.50 (1 in stock)