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Book Review: Child-Sized History


Title:  Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms, by Sara L. Schwebel. Vanderbilt University Press, 2011.

DescriptionChild-Sized History examines the widespread use of historical novels in the classroom, and the impact of these books on children’s understanding of history.

While historical novels are a great way of stimulating kids’ interest in history, Schwebel notes that the implicit messages of many popular older titles—such as the 1943 award-winning Revolutionary War novel Johnny Tremain—can be out of step with current sensibilities. Child sized historyTo address this issue, she provides methods for helping students understand how works of historical fiction reflect the politics and worldview of their authors at the time of writing. For example, a novel about American westward expansion written several decades ago would likely empathize with a frontiersman protagonist rather than Native American characters.

Bottom Line:  This is an excellent resource for any educator who teaches historical novels. Gain tremendous insight into the most popular works of historical fiction, in addition to learning how to use these titles more effectively in the classroom.

About the Author:  Sara L. Schwebel is an assistant professor of English at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children's and young adult literature. She holds a B.A. in History from Yale College and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. Prior to teaching at the university, she served as a middle-school English and American history teacher.

How to Purchase: Child-Sized History retails for around $35 and is available through Amazon.


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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