Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Vanderbilt University Press
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It is a great pleasure to thank the many people who traveled with me during the journey of this bookâs creation. Julie Reuben and John Stauffer have been superb mentors; their approach to scholarship, advising, teaching, and community building continue to inspire me. During my years at Harvard, I received considerable nurture from outstanding scholars ...
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I started first grade in 1982, a moment when the âwhole languageâ and âauthentic literatureâ movements began sweeping across U.S. schools, transforming the way teachers and librarians conceived of how children read. The new scholarship around literacy placed books, not reading instruction, at its center. Educators argued that if children could be hooked ...
1. Classroom Entry
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In a middle school classroom in Iowa, students who have just finished reading William H. Armstrongâs Newbery Medalâwinning novel, Sounder, turn to a teacher-created assignment to extend their learning. The story of an African American boy and his sharecropping family, Sounder is a poignant tale of oppression, hardship, and individual triumph ...
2. Indians Mythic and Human
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Cherokee editor Mary Gloyne Byler wrote in the early 1970s that in contrast to other minority groups in the United States, who âhave been, and are still, largely ignored by the nationâs major publishing housesâparticularly in the field of childrenâs books,â Native Americans" contend with a mass of material about themselves. If anything, there are too many ...
3. War Novels
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Ask Americans of any age to give a broad outline of U.S. history, and they will invariably start with Columbus, proceed to the Pilgrims, then mark the passage of time by a steady march of military engagementsâthe Revolution, the Civil War, and World Wars I and IIâbefore adding the civil rights movement and returning to battles overseas.1 This ...
4. Black and White
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In 1950, four years before the landmark Brown case outlawed school segregation, the American Library Association (ALA) awarded its coveted Newbery Medal to Elizabeth Yatesâs fictional biography of Amos Fortune, an African who rose from chattel slavery to freedom and self-sufficiency in colonial New England. Yatesâs novel, Amos Fortune, Free ...
5. Historical Fiction in the Classroom
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The novels whose analysis composes this book appear regularly in todayâs elementary and middle schools, and generally speaking, their presence in the lives of generations of American children is a good thing. As teachers attest and research supports, the books appeal to young adolescents, generating interest and excitement about a school subject, history, ...
Afterword: Pedagogical Possibilities
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In the summer between my seventh- and eighth-grade years, all students in my midwestern school were required to read and write an essay about Bette Greeneâs Summer of My German Soldier. I donât remember much about the summer of 1989, but I do remember reading that book. I hated it. Perhaps because I knew that the essay I wrote would be the first ...
Appendix A: Nationwide Trends in Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
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Appendix B: Historical Sources Discussed in Pedagogy Charts
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011