Historical Fiction
Guided Notes
Title: Historical Fiction Notes
Here are your questions:
1. What is Historical Fiction?
2. What is Historical Fiction like?
3. What types of events does historical fiction refer to?
4. What is the first type of historical fiction?
5. How do you identify the first type of historical fiction?
6. What is the second type of historical fiction?
7. How do you identify the second type of historical fiction?
8. What is the third type of historical fiction?
9. How do you identify the third type of historical fiction?
10. What are the elements of historical fiction, and how do you identify
Definitions and Descriptions
• Historical Fiction is realistic fiction set in a
time remote enough from the present to be
considered history, usually set apart by one
generation (which is typically defined as
twenty years).
• Like all realistic fiction stories, historical fiction
narratives are imaginary and the events and
character’s actions must be within the realm
of the possible.
• In historical fiction, actual historical events,
authentic period settings, and real historical
figures blend with imaginary characters and
plot. An imaginary story is constructed around
the facts.
• Complete a Venn diagram detailing the
similarities and differences between realistic
fiction and historical fiction.
There are 3 types of
historical fiction.
Historical Fiction 1:
Imaginary and Real
• The first type of historical fiction and
the most common form has
imaginary main characters, but some
secondary characters may be actual
historical figures. These stories
usually depict a significant historical
event, such as a war, an economic
depression, or a natural disaster
Example: Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
• Set in the Revolutionary War period, this story
tells of Johnny, a fictitious character,
apprenticed to a silversmith. In the course of
the story, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and
Paul Revere are introduced as minor
Historical Fiction 2:
Cultural References
• The second type of historical fiction depicts
the physical location of the story through
descriptions of social traditions, customs,
morals, and values of the period but with no
mention of an actual historical event or actual
historical figures as characters.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth
George Speare.
• The Puritan way of life in Connecticut in the
1600’s is depicted in this story about a young
Kit from Barbados who becomes involved in a
witchcraft trial.
Historical Fiction 3:
Historical Fantasy
• The third type of historical
fiction is not actually realistic
• In this type of historical story,
elements of fantasy are found,
therefore disqualifying it from
realistic fiction.
• Time warps, secret portals to
another time, and other
supernatural features are a
subcategory of historical
fiction which are categorized
as historical fantasy.
Notable Authors of Historical Fiction:
James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Karen Cushman
Peter Dickinson
Patricia Reilly Giff
Karen Hesse
Kimberly Willis Holt
Iain Lawerence
Geraldine McCaughrean
Uri Orlev
Katerine Patterson
Richard Peck
Ann Rinaldi
Mildred Taylor
Laurence Yep
The Scott O’Dell Award
• The award was established in 1981 by author
Scott O’Dell and honor what is judged to be
the most outstanding work of children’s
historical fiction published in the previous
• The work must be written by a U.S. citizen and
be set in the New World.
• www.scottodell.com
Universal themes
in historical fiction :
• Several reoccurring elements are pervasive
throughout modern selections of historical
• The most common themes are the effects of
war, family closeness in times of trouble,
seeking refuge, opportunity through
immigration, and economic challenges
How do you identify historical
Elements of Historical fiction
• Historical Events: Authors of Historical Fiction will write about
important events and phenomena that happened in the past.
These are usually events that significantly impacted people
living at that time.
• Real Places: Fictional stories set in the past often take place in
real places that are relevant to the story.
• Cultural Artifacts: Fictional Stories set in the past must
include cultural artifacts from that time to make the setting
believable. This might include objects, music or artistic
references, television shows or movies, hairstyles and
How do you identify historical
Elements of Historical fiction (Continued)
• Historical Language and Slang: People spoke
differently in the past. In Historical Fiction, you will
read accents, vocabulary, and slang that you don’t
use today. You will mostly read familiar language and
words because, for th reader to understand the story,
it has to be told in a modern voice.
• Realistic Characters: In some works of Historical
Fiction, there are real, important characters from
history. In other works, the characters are fictional,
but live in a real, historical time.
In Conclusion:
• Through historical fiction, young adults have
an opportunity to learn by living vicariously
through the lives of people long ago – people
from different cultures and from different
parts of the world.

Historical Fiction Guided Notes