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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Aaron and the Green Mountain Boys
by Patricia Lee Gauch
from Betterway Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94 $3.00 (3 in stock)
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94 $3.00 (2 in stock)
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Ryerson Press
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book, 1964 Charles W. Follett Award
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Addy Learns a Lesson
by Connie Porter
from American Girl
for 4th-6th grade
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from P&R Publishing
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
After the Dancing Days
by Margaret I. Rostkowski
from HarperTrophy
for 7th-9th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.09 $4.00 (1 in stock)
After the War
by Carol Matas
from Simon Pulse
Historical Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.79
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad
by Marlene Targ Brill
from First Avenue Editions
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Almost Home
Daughters of the Faith
by Wendy G. Lawton
from Moody Press
Historical Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Daughters of the Faith (Location: LFIC)
$7.99 $5.00 (1 in stock)
Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1951 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$6.79 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Anna's Fight for Hope
Sisters in Time
by JoAnn A. Grote
from Barbour Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
Annie Henry and the Mysterious Stranger
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from Crossway Books
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Annie Henry and the Secret Mission
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from Crossway Books
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Anthony Burns
by Virginia Hamilton
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-8th grade
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Archie's War
by Marcia Williams
from Candlewick Press
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Arrow Over the Door
by Joseph Bruchac
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$5.09
At Seneca Castle
by William W. Canfield
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$10.50
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Trailblazer Series
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
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Avion My Uncle Flew
by Cyrus Fisher
from Scholastic Inc.
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$1.50 (1 in stock)
Bad News for Outlaws
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
from Carolrhoda Books, Inc.
for 5th-7th grade
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Ballad of Lucy Whipple
by Karen Cushman
from HarperCollins
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$5.09
Ballad of the Civil War
by Mary Stolz
from Scholastic Inc.
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$2.00 (1 in stock)
Balloon Boy of San Francisco
by Dorothy Kupcha Leland
from Tomato Enterprises
for 7th-9th grade
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$8.46
Bat 6
by Virginia Euwer Wolff
from Scholastic Inc.
Historical Fiction for 4th-6th grade
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$3.00 (1 in stock)
Battle of Seattle
by Douglas Bond
from P&R Publishing
for 4th-9th grade
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$10.19
Beckoning Road
by Caroline Dale Snedeker
from American Home-School Publishing
American Historical Fiction for 7th-12th Grade
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$13.56
Behind Rebel Lines
by Seymour Reit
from Graphia
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$5.10
Ben and Me
by Robert Lawson
from Little, Brown & Company
Humor/historical fiction for 2nd-5th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$6.79 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
by Marguerite Henry
from Beautiful Feet Books
for 1st-6th grade
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$9.50 (1 in stock)
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
by Marguerite Henry & Wesley Dennis
Reprint from Aladdin Paperbacks
for 3rd-6th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$6.79
Bite of the Gold Bug
by Barthe DeClements
from Puffin Books
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in Gilded Age (1865-1918) (Location: G5E-HIS)
$4.99 $2.50 (3 in stock)
Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer
from Yearling
for 5th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Blackthorn Winter
Monroe Family Chronicles #1
by Doug Wilson
from Veritas Press
Nautical fiction for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$15.00
Blue Birds
by Caroline Starr Rose
Dgs from Puffin Books
Narrative Poetry / Novel-In-Verse for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.64
Bold Journey
by Charles Bohner
from Sandpiper Books
Non-fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Lewis & Clark (Location: HIS-19CAL&C)
$7.99
Bonanza Girl
by Patricia Beatty
from Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.
for 6th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.00 (2 in stock)
Book of Indians
by Holling C. Holling
1st edition from Platt and Munk Publishers
for 3rd-8th grade
in Native Americans (Location: G4C-HIS)
Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
for 8th-12th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$11.04
Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
for 8th-12th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$11.04
Boris
by Jaap Ter Haar
from Inheritance Publications
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$8.00
Borrowed House
Bethlehem Books Young Adult Bookshelf
by Hilda Van Stockum
from Purple House Press
Historical Fiction for 7th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Bound for Oregon
by Jean Van Leeuwen
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
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Boys of '76
by Charles Coffin
from Maranatha Publications
Historical Reference for 10th-Adult
in America's Christian Heritage (Location: G7D-HIS)
$19.97 $12.00 (1 in stock)
Brady
by Jean Fritz
from Puffin Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94
Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman
from HarperCollins
Historical Fiction for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.09 $3.50 (3 in stock)
Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman, David Frampton (Woodcuts)
2nd edition from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$4.00 (5 in stock)
Bunker Hill
Drums of War Book 2
by Peter Reese Doyle
from Providence Foundation
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.00 (2 in stock)
By Right of Conquest
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
By Right of Conquest
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
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