History can be boring for some children. It contains a lot of facts and past events that most children do not find interesting or important. Many children say, “Why do I need to know what happened in the past?” They do not realize any knowledge they gain is important and knowing about the past helps to shape the future. Novels are one way for children to learn about history in an entertaining way and not even realize they are learning. Several novels depict facts of historical events.
The conflict of the tension between the Tories and Whigs during the outbreak of the American Revolution is the theme of the 1944 Newberry Award winning book JohnnyTremain, which is written by Esther Forbes. The story is focused on young Johnny Tremain, who is badly burned while working on a silversmith project for John Hancock. This children’s classic is charming and educational.
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne published in 2006 is the story of a young boy who observes the Holocaust horrors. He and his family move to Poland because his father is an office of the Fury. The young boy sees a camp that is fenced in and a young boy who wears striped pajamas. He becomes friends with the boy, which leads to a tragic ending. This story teachers children about WWII, the Holocaust, concentration camps and what the Jewish people went through during this turbulent time in history.
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane written in the early 1900’s is a classic novel based on the Civil War. This novel teaches students about the trials and tragedies of the Civil War and those who had to fight in the war.
Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman is an exciting look into the life of one of history’s best and most exciting magicians and escape artist. Everyone has heard of Houdini. Fleischman takes the reader on a journey through his exciting career, personal life, and death.
One of the most educational novels that teach history is The Diary of Anne Frank. This story is the diaries of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who hides out during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII. This story teaches students what a young girl went through when her whole world was changed and she feared for her and her family’s lives.
The best way for children to learn about history is through literature that they can enjoy. The more entertaining the literature, the more attention the child will pay and he or she will learn and retain a lot about history.