Friday, September 25, 2009

American Historical Fiction for Younger Children

It seems everyone knows about the Dear America series. These are very in-depth historical fiction books that touch on various historical eras of America's past. They are also long! Even older children whose reading level is appropriate may find them too long, or boring, or hard to get into. I was recently introduced to a trilogy of historical fiction books concentrating on the Revolutionary War.

Hannah of Fairfield, written by Jean Van Leeuwen is the first in the series. The next is Hannah's Helping Hands followed by Hannah's Winter of Hope. The stories center on Hannah, a girl living in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1777. She is almost 10 and lives with her mother and father and older brother. This was interesting for us because we also live in Connecticut.

As one would expect, the novel gives a bit of information about life in the Colonial Era. Since Hannah is the main character, we are presented information through her eyes. This limits the Revolutionary War information to the homefront instead battles in the first novel. The second novel includes an encounter with the British forces that has a severe impact on the family. The third novel sees Hannah dealing with some of the hardships of war and her worry for the welfare of her brother. The last book was chosen by Flurpee, 10 years old, for her library book club.

The books were a quick read. Geared toward readers in 2nd through 5th grade, they trend toward the younger range in my opinion. They are short and include illustrations. The vocabulary is easy and the subject matter is sufficiently toned down to avoid serious issues for sensitive children--though perhaps not for the most sensitive.

I found the book we read to be interesting but without the deeper themes of longer chapter books. This a good way to introduce historical fiction for early readers, as a read-aloud, or for older kids who cannot seem to get into longer historical fiction. The interest level for older children may be limited by the short length and easier concepts.

No comments: