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IDEAS AND RESEARCH RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS

Making Middle-Grade Novels Believable

This article on writing may be of use to students who are creating stories of their own. Click here to read it.

 

A DEFINITION OF NONFICTION:

 

"Nonfiction is a book which can be checked against something outside of itself. That is the truth of the book can be researched, challenged, tested, investigated by making use of sources and experiences not contained within its covers. . . nonfiction may have all of the literary excellences of fiction — but it ultimately makes claims about a world outside of itself, which can be examined." -- Marc Aronson, "What is Nonfiction?" in his blog for school library journal Nonfiction Matters on September 10, 2010

 

A DEFINITION OF FICTION.

 

Fiction is a product of the imagination, but the best historical fiction does not subvert history. Rather, it gives as reliable a picture as possible while building a story around fictional characters and situations.  

 

 

EXPLORE HISTORY HONESTLY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE TIMES:

 

When teaching about historic figures, I believe it's essential to teach history within the context of the times. For example, there's been lots of criticism lately of George Washington because he owned slaves. This seems to overshadow the major accomplishment in his life: leading the Continental Army and serving as the nation's first president. His presidency set the standard for others to follow.

 

There is a tendency to just him solely as a slave owner. But even here, we need to examine the historical record more closely. In 1786, Washington said privately that he no longer wanted to purchase or own slaves. But slavery was a volatile issue at the time when the nation was forming, and leaders like Washington and Jefferson wanted  both northern and southern states to unite to form a new nation. Washington made good on his believs when at age 67, he wrote in his will that on his death, the 123 slaves at Mt. Vernon were to be freed. Find more detailed information at the Mt. Vernon website here.

 

 

SOME GREAT RESOURCES FOR WRITERS OF ALL AGES:

 

Use the Social Security Name Index to explore how the popularity of names changes over time or in different states.

 

Visit ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY. What happened today? On your birthday? On a date mentioned in the book you just read? 

 

 To read historical books, letters, or jourals:

              Project Gutenberg

              Hathi-Trust

 

To read historical newspapers published from 1789-1963: Chronicling America.

 

For older students who are ready to create a bibliography: KnightCite Citation Service (free)