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Parent Guide to Book Genres: Historical Fiction

Help your kids understand the present by turning to the past.

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Critical Thinking
Reading Comprehension

Time-traveling through books can give your child a glimpse of the eras and cultures that shaped the world, plus help her better understand current events. Encourage her to choose a time period and culture that intrigues her, whether it's a fictionalized account of an ancient royal or an everyday child from your own heritage.


Why They're Worthwhile
The most immediate gift historical fiction offers is a sensory-filled vision of a different time and place. It will show your child what life was like before TV (and toilets) and what kids like him did every day. Plus, it personalizes real events, cementing history's greatest moments in his mind. But it does much more than that. Perhaps more than any other genre, historical fiction hones your child's ability to empathize with people who are much different than he is.

Talking the Talk
Many of the best historical novels for kids tackle difficult topics like slavery or the Holocaust, so be prepared to answer questions that may not always be easy. Pay close attention to recommended reading ages, since your advanced reader may have the skills to tackle a book meant for older kids, but may not be emotionally ready for it. When possible, try to read the book or at least what others have had to say about it before making a purchase.

Beyond the Books
There are several ways to delve deeper into the time period and culture of your child's favorite piece of fiction. You could:

  • Cook up a dish or beverage that they would have eaten.
  • Create a costume for your child that emulates this period of time and have her spend a few hours pretending to be that character.
  • Ask your child to start a piece of "historical fiction" of her own. Since her life will one day be part of history, talk to her about what she would include and why.

Find Just-Right Books

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