Monday, April 23, 2012

Teaching Historical Fiction

There seemed to be a consensus at the last book club that there is a place for historical fiction in the history classroom. We teachers greatly enjoyed reading Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation and logic dictates that our students would also enjoy this book.

Personally, this was the perfect year for me to read this book for the TAH bookclub because this past September I used a similar work of historical fiction with my class. We begin our USII course with the massive wave of immigration to the United States at the turn of the 20th century.  I have always used a chapter from Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers.  This is the fictional story of Sara, a polish Jewish immigrant to New York City during the late 1800s.  It deals with the themes of Americanizaion, the generation gap, and issues of assimilation and education.  Much like Kwok and Girl In Translation, there were many similarities between the character Sara and the author Anzia.  

This September I decided to extend this activity and I read the whole novel with my students.  They spent the rest of the year asking for a new novel.  While I was not able to make time for anything else, I could not resist ending the year with Girl In Translation.  It really allows the course to come full circle. 

As for the obvious problem of making time for such an activity, I find the chapters to be perfect at the end of a class period or as homework reading.  I cannot recommend these two books enough for the USII classroom. 

1 comment:

  1. Mary, thanks for these suggestions. As you know, we looked into using historical fiction and memoirs as part of a session on "Transnational Migration" in February. Interested teachers should visit the History Connected wiki for our selections and the literature circles instruction strategy.