I’ve always loved historical fiction, even if at the moment it’s a hard sell in the library when placed next to an especially popular zombie/vampire/goth novel. That’s why a historical fiction book must be able to transport the reader to another place and time while also making the actions, thoughts and desires of the characters accessible and believable to a modern child or young adult. Here are a few books that can tempt even the most devout fantasy lover.
For younger readers:
Unspoken: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. When a young girl finds a runaway slave in her barn, she must decide if she has the courage to do what she believes to be right. A wordless picture book illustrated in soft pencil, this book is is especially useful for explaining the concept and history of the Underground Railroad to very young children. Appropriate for all ages.
A Boy Called Dickens written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix. Hopkinson offers a fictionalized account of Charles Dickens’ childhood complete with hints concerning the inspiration of some of his famous novels. A great introduction to the author for younger children and a good complement to students already familiar with Charles Dickens’ work. Ages 6 and up.
For older readers:
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Although not a recent publication, the depth of historical details and character development make The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle a must-read for all lovers of historical fiction. In 1832 Charlotte, a prim and proper young lady sets off from England to return to her family in Rhode Island. Along the way Charlotte discovers that her strictly defined rules of behavior must change if she is to survive the voyage. A wonderful tale of empowerment and growing-up. Ages 9 and above.
For the past twenty years Melissa Buron has worked as a librarian and teacher for young people in Africa, Europe and the United States. In addition, she is an author, blogger and journalist. You can find her at www.melissaburon.com, or on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (@melissaburon). Contact her with your favorite historical fiction books or just to say “hi!”.