Tina Athaide

Forgotten Histories of Ugandan Goans

The Goan Entebbe Institute, 1951, hosting a farewell for the departing president ‘PCSC’ Nazareth. (Photo courtesy and copyright of the Nazareth family.)

WHY HISTORICAL FICTION IS IMPORTANT

“I don’t like history, but I liked your book and it wasn’t boring.”

This is one of my favorite comments from young readers who have read my middle grade book about the expulsion of Asian Indians from Uganda. Capturing a child’s imagination, piquing their interest, and making history come alive, are just some of the reasons I write historical fiction and why I use it in my classroom.

Here are my top five reasons why reading historical fiction is beneficial:

  1. We can learn a lot about our present time and our own lives from voices in the past.
  2. Historical fiction creates a space for conversations about the present and the past.
  3. It provides opportunities for multigenerational conversations and connections.
  4. It allows readers to experience events from the past as they are unfolding through the everyday lives of the characters in the stories.

Dawn Finch, a children’s writer and librarian, offers these tips when selecting historical novels:

  • Does the novel present a historical story that doesn’t conflict too strongly with historical records?
  • Are the characters portrayed realistically and in authentic settings?
  • Does the book make use of well researched historical facts?
  • Does it avoid stereotypes, myths and overt bias?

Historical fiction allows you to take a ride on a time machine and the first rule of time-travel is that you cannot change the past. But when you finish reading the last page of books like Orange for the Sunsets, Red, White, and Whole, or Kid Sterling, you may discover that the past has changed you. If you would like to learn more about the history behind Orange for the Sunsets, click on the link below to read the article in the Joao-Toque Literary Journal.

Please share your tips or thoughts on using historical fiction in schools. I’d love to hear from you.

Read the full article in the Joao-Roque Literary Journal

Tina Athaide
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