History in Fact & Fiction

Situation: you’re reading the textbook for your history/social studies class when suddenly you realize you’re practically asleep and have no idea what you just read for the last hour. You yawn. You look at your cell phone and check Facebook. You cry a little inside at the fact that your grade is tied to how successfully you can get through this dry-as-dry-cereal textbook. You curse all of history for causing you such deep boredom.

Yep, history can sure be boring. But that’s really only because a lot of boring history books have been written. And so we tend to think that all of history is truly boring.The truth is, it’s boringly-written history books, not history itself, that tends towards the, ahem, less-than-interesting end of things.

I’m here to tell you that history is ridiculously fascinating if you read the right book. You can learn about history – I mean really learn about it! – from both well-researched fiction and well-written factual, or non-fiction, books. There is this under-explored genre called narrative non-fiction that I highly recommend: narrative non-fiction combines the best elements of fiction – plotline, well-developed characters, dialogue – with good research, primary source documents (like newspapers and photographs), and just plain fact.

Be prepared to expand your mind and travel back in time with a few of these historical fiction and historical fact titles from the library:

Set sail on the high seas and shiver yer timbers with…

Pirates! The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates by Celia Rees (Call number: YA REES)

A Thousand Years of Pirates by William Gilkerson (Call number: Youth Non-fiction X 910.4 G474)

Take a journey to France and see a side of World War II you might not have heard about with…

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Call number: YA WEIN)

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead (Call number: Adult Non-fiction 940.5344 M825)

Go East to Cambodia and check out a crucial 20th century story in…

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick (Call number: YA MCCORMI)

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung (Call number: Adult Non-fiction 959.6042 U57)

For a list of more historical fiction and really readable non-fiction, come to the library and check out the display of Fact and Fiction.

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