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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Take Ten: Historical Fiction Through Time

Today's student work is by Elissa who is a 9th Grade Honors World History teacher in Chicago.  She was able to create a midterm booktalk that she ended up using with her students.  In her own words:

For my thematic booklist, I chose to include historical fiction books that align with my world history curriculum.  By aligning the booklist with my curriculum, my students will expand their knowledge of the topics we study throughout the year.
...I chose this topic for my audience because I want them to continue learning outside the classroom.  The reading in my class tends to be from the text book, primary sources, or articles from history magazines.  While the titles on my list are historical fiction books, the students can still get a better understanding about the time period/subject they are reading about.  Also, part of their assignment will include research of the actual topic/time period they are reading about.  This will help them to discern fact from the historical fiction that they will be reading.    
So, she broke up her curriculum and suggested historical fiction for them to read.  These books are all included on "Adult Books for Young Adults" so that they are still appropriate for her 14 year old students.  

Below is her annotated list in a simple text format (not the snazzy handout she made for class).  I am also happy to report that she gave this booktalk to her classes and they all were very excited to start reading.


Historical Fiction:  10 Eras in 10 Books
Ancient Rome
Pompeii by Robert Harris
Newly appointed engineer Marcus Atiilius must discover why the aqueducts surrounding the Bay of Naples have failed.  Investigating a string of mysterious natural occurrences, Atillius finds himself at the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius on the eve of its eruption.  In a compelling drama filled with details of the corrupt and excessive lifestyle of ancient Rome, aqueducts, and volcanology, Pompeii brings to life one of the most infamous natural disasters in history. 
Also Try:  Imperium by Robert Harris 

Black Death
Year of Wonders:  A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
Widowed at 18, Anna Firth takes in a lodger from London who inadvertently brings the plague into her home.  When the plague begins to kill indiscriminately, the villagers decided to quarantine themselves to prevent the further spread of the plague.   The vivid descriptions of the plague, an inspiring, well-drawn protagonist, and an engrossing storyline create both a haunting and powerful novel.
Also Try:  The Plague Tales by Ann Benson

Renaissance
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
16-year-old Griet becomes the subject of a Vermeer painting while working as his maid.  As others learn of the painting, rumors begin to circulate through town of the growing intimacy between Griet and Vermeer causing trouble for the young maid.  This dramatic coming-of-age novel provides a detailed look at the elusive Vermeer and life during 16th century Holland.
Also Try:  The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Conquest of the Americas
Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende
Ines Suarez travels from her home in Spain to the New World to find her missing husband.  Upon learning of her husband’s death, Suarez finds a new love and together they help found the colony of Chile. Told in letter form, this richly detailed depiction of the conquest and colonization of Chile is a sophisticated work of literary fiction. 
Also Try:  Feathered Serpent:  A Novel of the Mexican Conquest by Colin Falconer

French Revolution
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
In a secret diary, Marie Antoinette chronicles her life, describing her childhood as princess of Austria, her arranged marriage to the Dauphin of France, her reign as Queen of France, and her downfall during the French Revolution.  Filled with details of courtly life during 18th century France, this dramatic work provides a look at the excessive lifestyle and tragic demise of one of the most notorious queens in history.
Also Try:  The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution by Sally Gardner

Colonization of Africa
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
When European missionaries attempt to ‘westernize’ his tribe, Okonkwo struggles to preserve his traditional culture.  This bleak novel, filled with details of tribal culture, describes the tragic collapse of an African tribe and its customs. 
Also Try:  The Fire of Origins by Emmanuel Dongala

India:  colonialism, culture, and castes - early 20th century
The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar
The House of Blue Mangoes follows the Dorais, an Indian family, through three generations as they struggle with classism, racism, and colonialism.  The introspective characters and vivid depictions of Indian culture create an engrossing family saga. 
Also Try:  Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

World War Two
When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe
Using multiple points of view, When the Elephants Dance, tells the story of the Karangalan family and their friends as they struggle to survive the final weeks of the Japanese occupation of Manila during World War II.  Hiding in a cellar and encountering danger every time they venture out, the family tells traditional stories to help pass the time.  With well-developed characters and an engrossing plot, this bleak novel expertly weaves the ravages of war with traditional Filipino stories to create a powerful work of historical fiction. 
Also Try:  The Children’s War by Monique Charlesworth

Vietnam War
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
As a combat photographer during the Vietnam War, Helen Adams comes face to face with the ravages of war on a daily basis.  In the midst of war, Adams finds herself torn between two men: an American journalist and an ex- Vietnamese soldier.   The heartwarming love story weaved within the graphic depictions of war torn Vietnam provides a glimmer of hope. 
Also Try:  Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

1994 Rwandan Genocide
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
Jean Patrick Nkuba, a talented young Tutsi runner, dreams of representing Rwanda in the Olympics.   When ethnic tensions increase and a civil war begins, Jean must run from the country he loves in order to ensure his survival.  The inspiring character of Jean Patrick gives us a glimmer of hope in this stark and haunting novel of death and destruction.
Also Try:  Broken Memory:  A Story of Rwanda by Elisabeth Combres

1 comment:

eme021 said...

Love this list!!!!