Novels to supplement history | Part 1

Sundiata

This year, I started a new role as the 8th grade Humanities teacher. I began the school year with an ambitious “Novels of the World” plan that would flawlessly integrate every Common Core standard in Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking along with the world history. Then reality hit me in the throat. I realized that […]

Thinking about school as a privilege

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys

As our year in second grade began last fall, my students and I spent some time thinking about why we go to school. In our first few weeks together, I tried to help my students understand that going to school is a privilege that has not always been (and is still not) available to everyone. […]

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia In the “crazy summer” of 1968, three black sisters set out from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to reconnect with their estranged mother, an active member of the Black Panther political movement. How does Williams-Garcia balance historical events with the girls’ personal journeys? How do both these aspects of the […]

No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie Documents, photos, fictionalized and true accounts of historical figures and events are woven together in this portrait of Nelson’s larger-than-life great uncle Lewis Michaux. What to you make of the […]

Historical fiction — why didn’t I use it more?

One Crazy Summer

A librarian friend of mine* recently asked me why historical fiction doesn’t make its way into social studies and language arts classrooms more often. The thought keeps rattling around in my brain. First, I should say that I don’t know for sure that there aren’t tons of classrooms where historical fiction is a great pillar […]

The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Bo at Ballard Creek

The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Kirkpatrick Hill for Bo at Ballard  Creek, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a division of the Macmillan Children’s Book Group. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods, Bo at Ballard Creek takes its young heroine […]

Smugglers, secrets, and the Sasanach

cave of secrets

Combine the words “historical,” “fiction,” and “smugglers” in the same sentence, and most people immediately think of buccaneers and tropical seas. But as Morgan Llywelyn shows in Cave of Secrets (O’Brien Press/Dufour Editions, June 2013), smuggling was also a way of life for ordinary people living under British rule in seventeenth-century Ireland. Set in the […]

The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

chickadee

The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Louise Erdrich for Chickadee, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The annual award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes to the author of a distinguished […]

Un-documented

Henry Cole’s Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad (see the Review of the Week, by Betty Carter) presented us with some very complicated questions. It’s a terrific and intriguing book, a wordless, pencil-illustrated tale of a young girl feeding and protecting a person hiding behind the cornstalks in her family’s barn; soldiers and a […]

Two things to do tonight

One: Ruta Sepetys will be speaking and signing her novel Between Shades of Gray tonight at Porter Square Books in Cambridge at 7:00PM. Two: I am being interviewed by Emma Walton Hamilton tonight at 7:00PM EDT at the Children’s Book Hub. It’s a membership site, but you can listen for free by following this link. […]