Saturday, December 04, 2004

I began my morning by reading a bit of Private Peaceful by Murpurgo, with a WWI setting, and have been contemplating the discussion my YA Literature students recently had online about the use of historical fiction in the classroom. When I asked them what five historical fiction titles they would use with high school students very few of them included recently published titles. No wonder teens aren't crazy about historical fiction when they equate it to Moby Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin, David Copperfield and other classics that were contemporary literature when they were written.

But, give students Paulsen's Soldier's Heart or Matas' The Burning Time and you will have readers hooked on a great story, with a historical setting. Although a good historical fiction title is based on a great deal of research into the time period in which it is set, it is also is a reflection of the time period in which it is written. Not that this is always good as the prejudices of a time period can seep into the story, but I do think the historical fiction written today has much more teen appeal than the classics that are required reading in our schools. Novels such as Private Peaceful and Soldier's Heart have teenage male protagonists that the teen reader can relate to. The fears of war and the pangs of unrequited love are universal, transcending time periods and cultures.

Those are my "heavy thoughts" for the day.