Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

Today, I am over at Writing to be Read with a post about the importance of historical fiction for children. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting me.

Writing to be Read

When I was in high school, history was an unpopular subject. It was so unpopular, in fact, that when the time came for the Grade 9’s to chose their subjects for Grade’s 10 to 12, the school paired history with typing, home economics and business economics so that the girls who chose this less academic combination were compelled to take history. This was how I ended up in a history class with mainly girls who hated the subject. I loved history and I took it through choice. My other subjects were maths, accountancy, and science. In South Africa, English and Afrikaans were compulsory subjects at the time.

I never really understood why my peers didn’t like history as it was a subject always loved. I’ve said it here before, however, that I was a very wide reader from a very young age and I read a lot of books set…

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44 thoughts on “Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

      1. I’m happy to pass books on to someone who really appreciates them. These two volumes were illustrated by Elizabeth Frink. A short while ago I asked Mal what he thought about the illustrations. He said he was only interested in the writing, 😦

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  1. When I went to school, history and geography were separate subjects. Later, the two were combined as social studies, whatever that meant. If we don’t know our history, we are operating without essential knowledge. Yay, for historical writing, fiction or otherwise.

    I’ll share this too, Robbie!

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    1. Hi Marian, thank you for sharing. I didn’t know that history and geography were combined subjects in the USA, that is interesting as I can’t really see how they go together. They were separate when I was at school and they are separate at my sons school. I love history and there were parts of geography I loved, like natural disasters and the study of populations and climates, but I did not like mapwork and to this day I cannot read a map.

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    1. Hi Jill, I am a bit selective about what I read that is called historical fiction. You are right that there are some people who misrepresent historical facts in fiction and mislead readers. I think authentic historical writers are very careful to get their facts correct and to not be biased as there are a lot of people out there who will criticize any inaccuracies in a book. I know I used 22 sources when I wrote A Ghost and His Gold and cross checked information to the extent possible.

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    1. Hi Annika, I must be honest, I think I was rather an unusual kid when I look back. I loved things that didn’t interest other people and read difficult and advanced books with the help of a dictionary. My oldest son is just like me. His IT teacher asked me during the teacher / parent interview yesterday how I raised such a hard working dedicated kid – what tactics did I use – the truth is he has just followed his parents. Our house is always full of interesting, and often very heated, discussions about science, history, politics, and even literary interpretations. He grew up being read too and it wasn’t just children’s books I read. I read all sorts of non-fiction books and historical books about all sorts of topics. I made the boys dress up outfits so they could be Roman soldiers and Vikings and we made helmets out of paper mache. I think this is why they are so interested.

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    1. It was like that for me too, Darlene, but, as I said in this article, the boys at my sons school love history. It is the most popular subject after maths. Greg has taken history to his final school year and Michael is also planning to take it when he chooses subjects at the end of this year. I suppose it helps that they have been visiting museums and places of historical interest since they could walk.

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      1. So true Robbie and though we have never met each other we got connected immediately on wordpress blog. I too am a very curious person and that is why have loved learning about cultural aspects of every country and love reading their history. Love and light to you. 💖💖💖💖🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

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  2. Another history lover here, Robbie. And a timely post indeed. I hear a lot nowadays about history being dropped from curriculums because it’s “not important”. So, historical fiction becomes very important.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, I think it is very short sighted to drop history from school curriculums. An understanding of history is vital to an understanding of human development and to protect our hard won freedoms. For example, if you don’t know what society was like for women when they had no rights and were effectively kept dependent on men, then how would you recognise threats to that freedom?

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  3. I think K-8 kids (here in the US) really enjoy historical fiction. Once they graduate, not sure that they continue. I know I shied away from it, as though they were textbooks. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

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    1. Hi Jacqui, we change as we get older and things that interested us before no longer do and new interests grab our attention. I am writing my article and will finish it today. It is about women during the war with a focus on their leadership and strength. I decided that topic suited you and your own books and writing, best.

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    1. Hi Tandy, you like thrillers and action novels. My mom does too, but she also likes historical novels. I like family dramas and books about life during difficult times like wars. This interest reflects in my own writing.

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  4. I so enjoyed this post, Robbie. You are absolutely right about the impact reading historical fiction has on a child. I loved your book choices. How wonderful that your boys have far more opportunities in school than you did.

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