Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.
Today’s Topic: Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read Historical Fiction
There is a reason this book is in both Kellee’s and my top five. It is absolutely brilliant. Lina is a 15-year-old girl living in Lithuania during WWII. Unlike the majority of the books about WWII, this one is not about the Holocaust. The Soviets, under the leadership of Stalin, barge into her house and drag her family onto a truck. They are headed for Siberia. I knew a bit about Stalin’s dictatorship, but this book added much more knowledge to my understanding. I am surprised that I have not read more books about this tragedy of history. This book will surely engage readers.
2. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
This is an incredible novel that can be appreciated by people of all ages. What I like most about the novel is that it is centered around the characters and relationships. Doug’s brother is fighting in Vietnam, and his family moves into a small house in a small town. Doug isn’t the most well-behaved boy, so he has no problem talking back to the people in the town who bother him. While I want to summarize all of the interesting literary elements of the book, I think it would be better to just tell you to experience it for yourself. Truly, you won’t be disappointed in this one. It is worthy of the praise it has received.
3. The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Although Karl Stern’s family is not religious, they are considered Jewish based on the fact that three out of four grandparents were Jewish. Karl develops his skills as a boxer and struggles to maneuver through a world that is becoming increasingly anti-semitic. I liked this book because it taught me a lot about the build-up of the Holocaust, so it was different from many other books from that time period. Sharenow does an excellent job weaving history and comics into the story, and it was very engaging. Whenever I put the book down, I couldn’t stop thinking about Karl and his family.
4. Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen
This was my favorite book to read aloud when I was teaching high school. Based on a true story, it details the journey of Gabriella, a 15-year-old, carefree girl in Guatemala. When her home is attacked, she climbs a tree and witnesses the horrible massacre of the people in her village. The violence in this book is unsettling, but my students felt very connected to Gabriella’s story. It teaches phenomenal lessons of courage.
5. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Mattie Gokey is a 16-year-old girl who works at a hotel. A guest, Grace, asks her to burn a bundle of letters, and then Grace’s body is discovered in the lake. This mystery, set in 1906, is beautifully written and will teach readers many lessons. I used A Northern Light in literature circles, and it always got positive reviews.
I totally agree about the books, Okay for Now and Berlin Boxing Club, that Ricki shared. Both are amazing books and ones that “trick” readers who may not like historical fiction. Here are the books I think could turn these readers:
1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
This is just a brilliant book who will suck in any reading. I almost included Ruta Sepetys’s newest, Out of the Easy, as well because Ruta is so good at taking her readers and transporting us into the setting of her book.
2. The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf
This is one of my favorite historical fiction books, and I think it’d be a good book for a first-time historical fiction reader because the Titanic is a setting/topic that many people know about.
3. I Survived… (series) by Lauren Tarshis
4. Resistance (series) by Carla Jablonski
5. Wonderstruck and Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
With these three (#3, #4, and #5), I am thinking of my struggling readers (and many other middle school students) who are intimidated by historical fiction. All three of these can help students see the joy of historical fiction.
Which historical fiction books would you use to introduce someone to the genre?