American Revolution Historical Fiction – For the Teachers

Our 5th grade Social Studies curriculum was focused on United States History, through the Civil War.

To supplement the curriculum, I used historical fiction novels during our reading class to broaden the students’ knowledge, perspective and (hopefully) interest in the time period.

101 Ways to Show What You KnowTypically I’d have the students put together some sort of project (video, speech, long – any of the Ways to Show What They Know), which gave them opportunities to connect the fiction with what they were learning about the actual history.

To focus on the reading skills, I used these Historical Reading Assignment Options. Giving them options for assignments made it really easy to differentiate. Since not all of the students were doing the same work at the same time, I could make adaptations (allowing more time, simplifying requirements, providing additional resources, etc.) without it being obvious to other students. The options also gave kids a chance to draw if they liked to draw, to write if they preferred to write and to otherwise be more engaged in their work.

Printable: Historical Fiction Reading Assignments
Printable: Historical Fiction Reading Assignments

We’d start the unit with a blank calendar for the weeks of the unit, and I worked with the kids so they could schedule for themselves when they’d do each assignment in order to have everything done by the final due date. I think they learned a tremendous amount from this process, particularly about time management and study skills. We did units like this several times during the year so they kids got better at judging how long assignments would take, how much time they’d need – skills they will use in every class and every job they ever have.

At the beginning of the unit, I would introduce four or five novels. I’d talk about the basics: the number of pages, the level of text complexity, a short description of the plot. Then the students could look a the choices, confer with friends and then each chose which book they wanted to read.

When I was in school, I disliked almost every book I was required to read, even though I loved reading, so I tried to give my students options as often as possible here too. I loved that no matter which books they picked, they all got useful, interesting information from their reading so they all had something to share.

Our Choices for American Revolution Historical Fiction:

1. “George Washington’s Socks” by Elvira Woodruff

This was the easiest-to-read option. It’s sort of fantasy-meets-historical fiction: two kids from modern day end up in a rowboat that transports them back to the night that Washington and his men crossed the Delaware River. The book does explain well about some of the differences in daily life during that time, and the kids who read it learned details about Washington that they got to share with the rest of the class.




2. “The Fighting Ground” by Avi

Tells the story of a 13-year-old who wants to fight the British, like his brother and cousin are doing. This book tended to be popular with the boys. It was a good book for looking at setting and character choices, and the kids like that it was full of action.





3. “War Comes to Willy Freeman” by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

After her father is killed and her mother is captured, Willy disquises herself as a boy and sets out to find her. Lots of action. The female lead made it most popular with the girls.






4. “Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson

Set after the revolution, this story tells of a girl living in Philedelphia during the yellow fever epidemic in the summer of 1793. Lots of details about the time period and what daily life was like and what difficulties the new Americans faced. A descriptive and interesting story.





5. “My Brother Sam is Dead” by James Lincoln Collier

This novel, a Newberry Honor Award Winner, was definitely the most challenging to read, both because of the reading level and because of the emotional content. Only a handful of my students ever chose to read it, but the ones who did loved it.







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American Revolution Historical Fiction
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2 thoughts on “American Revolution Historical Fiction

  • April 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that there is a mistake on Historical Fiction Reading Assignments document letter D…you have wrote and I think you want write…

    • August 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you so much for letting me know!


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