Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction

What Is Historical Fiction?

Ellis IslandWhat Is Historical Fiction?

Historical fiction is fiction that is set in the past.  Typically, the author creates fictional characters who experience events and situations that actually occurred.  Sometimes, just the background of a time or place in history is used.  This genre covers all eras of human life, including but not limited to periods in which slavery, the Civil War, and the Westward Expansion occurred. 

The purpose of historical fiction is to help children experience the past, facilitating independent critical thinking, feeling, and making judgments.  Based on such critical thinking opportunities, children learn to evaluate the past in order to learn from mistakes that occurred.  Historical fiction also enables readers to learn about change through time.

When writing historical fiction, the author must be sensitive to the real events that occurred in order to accurately portray history, cultures, language, emotions, experiences, etc.  Figurative language that accurately portrays the spirit and emotion of the time and events is often present in historical fiction, and nothing in the book should contradict the history.  A well-written historical fiction book should "illuminate today's problems by examining those of other times"(Kiefer, 2010, p. 457).


Additional Information and Resources

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Teaching Resources