From Margo L. Dill.... I recently had a chance to go on my first school visit since my middle-grade, historical fiction novel came out at the beginning of October. Luckily, the teachers had read the book to the students before I got there for Family Reading Night, and they all seemed to really like it. I never got to my prepared presentation because the kids had so many questions about the characters and the events in the war, and many of them wanted to know if I was writing a sequel. To see these children so excited about a historical fiction book warmed my heart—especially after attending a writing conference earlier in the year where New York agents and editors said that historical fiction was on its way out and could not be sold.
Before this experience at Reading Night, I knew children responded better to historical fiction than they did history books or social studies lectures from my years as an elementary teacher. It’s almost like historical fiction authors along with parents, teachers, and librarians are ganging up on the kids (in a good way!) and tricking them into caring about some characters and a story, so that they will also learn history. Thank goodness for this little bit of trickery. It helped me when I was in school, too, reading books like Little House on the Prairie or Johnny Tremain.
I don’t think historical fiction is dead, despite what’s selling the best on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I think it’s important to share it with our children and students—to point out what’s fact and what makes the story fiction. Once you’ve read a historical fiction book to a child, then you can teach her more about the history that goes with it. They’ll have something to connect with when they learn why the Declaration of Independence was so important or the North won the war or the causes for World War II.
In my book, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, I was determined to give students a view from the Southern citizens during the United States Civil War because so many books out there are from a Northern point of view and focus on the soldiers. I wanted to show how the war affected people’s lives, but I also wanted to share this time period with children. What did kids do for fun back then? What did they read? What chores did they do? What did they do when supplies ran low because of the war? Were kids back then like kids today? I hope that I was able to accomplish this and more.
One of the best compliments an author can receive is: “Is there going to be a sequel?” especially when children are learning while reading! I’m thankful for the genre of historical fiction. I’m glad my first novel is a part of this, and I hope that we will be using the genre to connect children and history for many years to come.
Margo L. Dill is the author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, about 13-year-old Anna Green and her struggle to keep her family together during the Siege of Vicksburg.
To read a summary or purchase an autographed copy (a perfect Christmas present for children ages 9 to 12!), please go to http://margodill.com/blog/finding-my-place or on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-My-Place-Strength-Vicksburg/dp/1572494085/ .
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A copy of Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg provided by author, Margo L. Dill.
Begins Dec. 4 and Ends Dec. 17, 2012 12:01 a.m. EST