Helping Children Understand Historic Literature


Historic literature comes in many forms. Historians, on the one hand, document events which occur during an era of time. These events are often written through a certain point of view, and this is often hard for children to understand. Depending upon their age, most children find it difficult to understand that historians often allow their own ideologies to get in the way of accurate representation. As time passes, historical accounts often become skewed by other authors as well. They take creative license when they decide to recount a historical piece of literature from their own perspective.

These reasons contribute to the importance of historical fiction as a viable option. Historical fiction often centers around a real setting or era in time. Many of the characters, if not all of them, are also accurately represented in many historical fiction works. However, the plot within historical fiction stories often reflects the views of the author. A couple of the more famous examples of historical fiction include, Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, and Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. All of these pieces of literature represent an important era in time.

Teachers and parents who do not choose to use specific historical fiction books to read with children have other options as well. One of the best ways to foster an appreciation for historic literature is to allow children to do research before reading. Research is one of the key components to understanding any type of literature. It allows you to attain important background information so that you understand the events within literature much more clearly. For example, The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the atmosphere of the time, which was the roaring 1920’s. Children who are preparing to read this book should do research about the major events of the 1920’s.

If you are a teacher who wants to present historic literature to your students, then you should align your lesson plans with a social studies teacher. Children are able to grasp historical concepts much more easily when they are exposed to them during two different class periods. Aligning instruction to cater to students’ needs allows you to help them to understand what it is they are going to read and learn about. Take the time to schedule a meeting with the social studies teacher to see which historic literature books might be the best choices for a particular unit of study.

When it comes to historic literature there are many options for presenting the material in a manner which allows children to actually appreciate what they are reading. The key is to relate it to ideas which naturally interest them. Parents should place an emphasis on allowing their kids to go to the public library to check out books. It helps to direct children to areas in the library where they can find some of the latest historic literature options as well.