Historical fiction

Illustrator Studies


WWII books

Imagine you are teaching at the 6th grade level and your social studies curriculum is focused on WWII.  Your librarian has helped locate some possible books.  Now you need to decide which books to include and how to best integrate them.

In pairs look at a book.

WWII in context

The U.S. prior to WWII:

Bud Not Buddy
Esperanza Rising
Walking on Air

Homefront During WWII:
A Boy at War
Art of Keeping Cool
Summer of My German Soldier

Eyes of the Emperor

The War in Europe:
Number the Stars
No Pretty Pictures
Soldier Boys
Escaping into the Night

The War in Asia:
My Brother, My Sister, and I
Barefoot Gen
Year of Impossible Goodbyes
Elephant Run
When My Name Was Keoko

The War in Australia/NZ
The Divine Wind


The Legend of Buddy Bush

Let Me Go

Journey Home

Connecting WWII
with contemporary time (time travel):

The Devil's Arithmetic
if i should die before i wake
Ann Frank and Me


There is time to read 2 books during this unit for direct instruction in the English Class.  The Social Studies teacher has time to include one novel length book but they are leaning towards using nonfiction tradebooks (or life stories).

Will you have everyone read the same books and do the same activities?  Or will you use literature circles and group projects?  Or what?  You can't decide everything in this one meeting but perhaps you can take a look at the books and brainstorm possible activities.

You are now experts on two books.  In groups discuss the books read for this week and the books you have just examined with an eye towards what might serve you best in the 6th grade classroom.  Would you recommend all reading the same 2 books, one read in common and one choice book from a list (what would be on the list), or 2 books chosen from book sets with Literature Circles?

Elephant Run by Roland Smith
Escaping into the Night by Dian Friedman          
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli 
When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park


What books will you include?

What activities will you include?





 Report Back to whole class

2. Discuss possible extensions.  You are using this book or books in the classroom so what next?  What projects or activities would really enhance the reading of the book?


Possible extensions:

Possible Extensions for literature sets:

3. Creating a classroom museum:

Next:   Imagine walking into a museum depicting the setting and time in which the story takes place.  What would this museum include?

Asian Front
Elephant Run by Roland Smith
When My Name Was Keoko
by Linda Sue Park

European Front
Escaping into the Night by Dian Friedman
by Jerry Spinelli 

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

You are going to design a classroom museum about the time period depicted in these novels

Place all of your artifacts on your table.  As a group make two lists  (10 minutes)

1.  Items (artifacts, models....), maps, related books that you might include in this museum. Create a list of items and a rough draft of how you might arrange them in the classroom.

2.  Second task is to come up with language arts related activities that might be integrated into the museum -- letters, diaries of characters from the novel... create a newspaper from the time... write an introduction to the time period (non-fiction writing)... an audio guide (on tape) to the items in the museum with period music in the background...

Now imagine your students creating this museum. 

American Memories 

National Geographic: Pearl Harbor http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pearlharbor/

Japanese internment  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/anseladams/aamsp.html
D-Day newspaper  http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm086.html
Homefront photo http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm172.html
War's End Newspaper  http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm216.html
Posters http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awpnp6/worldwars.html
Virtual radio http://www.worldwar2database.com/html/radio.htm

Write down two questions about any of the historical fiction novels read for the past two weeks.  What do you want to know about these books that you did not learn?

5. Survey of the literature
Create a timeline of some exemplars of historical fiction

For the books at your table write down

Questions to examine as we move through the timeline:


Discuss the following questions:

1.  What might be the benefits and limitations of using historical fiction as part of the social studies curriculum?

2.  Discuss the benefits of using one book for a whole class read vs. a set of related books which students choose from?

Whole class discussion:

What have you liked and disliked about the historical fiction novels you have read?  What stood out for you?  Did you enjoy reading these books?  How do you think children will respond to these books?

Online Resources

Activities Using the World Wide Web

Sources on the World Wide Web

Additional Online Readings on Historical Fiction



Not doing this Fall Semester!!
Webquest Brainstorming:   (20 minutes)

One of the class project we still have to be introduced to in this class is the webquest related to one of the novels being read.  I want to introduce this concept while we are still on this genre in part because historical fiction is so suited to the concept but also so you can begin to think about which novel to use when creating the webquest.

You can work in group on this project but of course I will expect the projects to be more elaborate and more perfected if you are working in a group.

All webquests should be turned in on disk.

You can also choose to fix up or elaborate an already existing webquest  (one that was created for this class in the past).  All of the former webquests have elements that could certainly be improved upon, and many of the links are expired.  If you choose to do this you need to submit a copy of the original (as a print out) and the updated version on disk)

Any webquest should have the following elements (with teacher resources being optional if they are already included in the resources section). 

See the sample

Bud Not Buddy

Lily's Crossing

Introduction   |   Task   |   Process   |   Resources

Evaluation   | Teacher Resources


Look at some of the webquests that have been done in the past.

As you think of a novel you might be interested in working with (does not have to be historical fiction) come write your novel and name on the board and we'll see if anyone else is interested in working with you on this.  If you already have a group or an idea you would like to work with on your own raise your hand and I will come talk to you about the potential.



Website Annotations


Author chats Scholastic

Author chat.com



Today we are going to work with and evaluate the idea of doing an extension activity when conducting literature circles in the classroom.

  Literature resource network