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Young Adult Historical Fiction

Growing up was hard to do in the wayback days.

History = yawn.

Okay, not really, but sometimes it seems that way. Well, Shmoopers, we have a surefire way to make history come alive: historical fiction. By looking at history through the eyes of imaginary characters, we're able to think about the past from a completely new angle.

And that's not all. In this three-week course, you'll be reading young adult historical fiction—that means we get to see the past through the eyes of a kid. Coming-of-age in a certain time period really makes you appreciate it that much more. So get ready to appreciate.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Young Adult Historical Fiction

The three books we'll be tackling together are as follows:

  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  • Number the Stars
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: You Can't Handle the Truth

Fiction = made up. The end.

Oh, Cary. Even you knew you have to look a little closer to see the truth. (Source)

But wait. Add the word historical in front of it all, and suddenly it's not so made up. Historical fiction blurs the line between reality and invention in more ways than one. Why? Because some of it is completely true. Here are just some of the aspects of historical fiction that can be completely factual:

  • The geographical location 
  • The historical events 
  • The people (historical figures)

Sneaky, right? So how are we supposed to separate fact and fiction in these novels?

Simple: be informed.

Because of the good folks we at Shmoop like to call historians (we think they like to call themselves that, too), we're able to read up on history to know which aspects of a book authors are stealing from reality and which aspects are coming from those big ol' brains of theirs.