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Historical Fiction. Essential Questions. How does literature help us to better understand ourselves ? How can an understanding of the past influence the future?. As you work, ask yourself the following questions:. Passage #1.

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essential questions
Essential Questions
  • How does literature help us to better understand ourselves?
  • How can an understanding of the past influence the future?

As you work, ask yourself the following questions:

passage 1
Passage #1

The Death’s Head Brigade operated hundreds of concentration (labor) camps across the Reich. There, millions of people perished as the result of torture, starvation, and disease. The Death’s Head Brigade also ran six extermination centers in Poland – death camps, killing centers where millions more people were murdered outright. The SS was also responsible for establishing ghettos in sections of major cities. Jews were rounded up and forced to live there in conditions of overcrowding, filth and starvation.

passage 2
Passage #2

Suddenly Hannah noticed that one of the camp babies was still cradled in a washtub. Without stopping to ask, she grabbed it up and ran with the child into the middle of the midden. Garbage slipped along her bare legs. She waded through a mixture of old rags, used bandages, the emptied-out waste of the slop buckets. The midden smell was overwhelming. Though she’d already gotten used the pervasive camp smell, the cloudy musk that seemed to hang over everything, a mix of sweat and fear and sickness and the ever-present smoke that stained the sky, the smell in the midden was worse. She closed her eyes and lowered herself into the garbage, the baby clutched in her arms.

When the all-clear clucking finally came, Hannah emerged from the heap with the baby.

how do the passages differ
How do the passages differ?

Passage #1

Passage #2

passage 11
Passage #1

From Holocaust: Inferno, by Eleanor H. Ayer



Call number

passage 21
Passage #2

From The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen



Call number

a few definitions
A Few Definitions…

Nonfiction – True, factual, informative writing.

Fiction - Imaginative writing with characters and events that have been invented (not real).

characteristics of historical fiction
Characteristics of Historical Fiction

1. A form of fiction (not true)

  • Based on historical events
  • Authentic settings
  • Realistic Characters
  • Some characters may be actual people from history.
benefits of reading historical fiction
Benefits of Reading Historical Fiction

The reader can experience the past.

Instead of thinking, “So, that’s what happened!” We think, “So that’s what it was like!”

possible searches
Possible Searches
  • WWI
  • WWII / Holocaust
  • Civil War
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Spy Stories
  • Great Depression
  • Segregation
  • Refugees
how to search
How To Search

From the library webpage, click on OPAC.

Search “anywhere” for “historical fiction.”


Search “anywhere” for the subject of your choice with the words “historical fiction.”

lily s crossing by patricia reilly giff

This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family's cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone's life. Lily's best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily's father is on his way overseas to the war. There's no one else Lily's age in Rockaway until Albert comes, a refugee from Hungary, a boy with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he's been through things Lily can't imagine. But when they join together to rescue and care for a kitten, they begin a special friendship. For Lily and Albert have their own secrets to share: they both have told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff








World War II



Rockaway, New York

Time Period:

1944, World War II

once by morris gleitzman

Felix, a Jewish boy in Poland in 1942, is hiding from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage. The only problem is that he doesn't know anything about the war, and thinks he's only in the orphanage while his parents travel and try to salvage their bookselling business. And when he thinks his parents are in danger, Felix sets off to warn them--straight into the heart of Nazi-occupied Poland. To Felix, everything is a story: Why did he get a whole carrot in his soup? It must be sign that his parents are coming to get him. Why are the Nazis burning books? They must be foreign librarians sent to clean out the orphanage's outdated library. But as Felix's journey gets increasingly dangerous, he begins to see horrors that not even stories can explain. Despite his grim suroundings, Felix never loses hope. Morris Gleitzman takes a painful subject and expertly turns it into a story filled with love, friendship, and even humor.

Onceby Morris Gleitzman












Nazi Occupied Poland

Time Period:

World War II era


Out of the Dust

By Karen Hesse

A Newbery Medal-winning Author, A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, An ALA Best Book for Young Adults...A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo's life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better - playing the piano - is impossible with her wounded hands. To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby.





Skin cancer


Farm life


Death of a parent


Oklahoma - South (U.S.)

Time Period:

1929-1934 -- Depression era

code talker by joseph bruchac
Code Talkerby Joseph Bruchac

Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years. But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.


Navajo Indians

Native American history

U.S. Marines

Coded messages


Cultural differences

World War II


United States


Time Period:

World War II era