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Children's Historical Fiction, Historical Awareness, and the Professional Dilemma

When historical fiction is taught in elementary and middle school classrooms, it is often presented as literature, or alongside works of nonfiction and primary sources. Children’s historical fiction is not regularly taught for its own educational merit or as means of gaining historical awareness. While the pairing of fiction and nonfiction is a useful tool that teaches the importance of scholarly and primary sources, we must also consider how these stories alone can positively impact children to become better students and members of society.

Around the time that students enter middle school, their knowledge of the past begins to shift from snapshots of famous people and events, to a broader critical understanding of the context behind these things that happened long ago. Because of this, children’s historical fiction, primarily published at the middle-grade reading level, are perfect tools for gaining historical awareness. It is an understatement to say that educators and librarians en…
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Black Lives Matter: Middle Grade and YA Historical Fiction

Earlier posts on this blog pay careful attention to books containing diverse characters. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I want to share this list of middle grade historical fiction. In most cases, the main characters are black Americans, however there are a few titles whose black characters play a secondary role. I included these because of their exceptional equity in telling the characters' stories. 

Historical fiction is often scrutinized for misappropriation, especially when it comes to diverse voices. Because of this, I have tried to select more recent titles, whose authors are working harder than ever to promote the important work of telling accurate stories. Names with a star (*) are considered #ownvoice authors, portraying characters that reflect their own heritage and race.
Since 1619, when the first slaves landed on American soil, the history of African American and Black men, women, and children has been wrought with racism, discrimination, violence, and de…