Historical Fiction Book Report

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Book reviews or analyses, visual displays, problem-solving lessons and oral presentations provide ways for students to digest historical fiction.

Before assigning the project, explain to your students that historical fiction is about a particular time in history, but many of the characters and plot details are fictional.

Instruct them to spend approximately half of the time explaining the plot, major characters and important themes and the other half discussing the setting and historical context.

They'll likely need to do some additional research to explain the historical context.

Encourage them to focus on central conflicts and how they are resolved.

After each student finishes her oral book review, host a brief question-and-answer session so students can ask the presenter questions about the book.When sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are sent to stay with their mother, Cecile, in Oakland, California, for the summer, they’re excited for Disneyland and reconnecting with their mother.But Cecile isn’t the mother they expect, and puts them into a day camp run by the Black Panthers, opening their eyes to their family history and futures.Provide legal-size paper and show them how to fold it in half and add two flaps -- one on the front side and one on the back -- for the summary and bio.Ask them to write a personal review of the book on the back cover.Discuss elements of historical fiction and read a selection or two together as a class, such as "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry -- a book about a girl's survival during World War I -- or "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" by Avi -- a story about an English teenager's fearful journey during the 14th century.Ask your students to write their own two- to three-page historical fiction story, choosing any historical period they want.Fifth grade social studies and language arts teachers often assign historical fiction projects as part of their curriculum.Teachers might allow students to choose a book from that genre, or they might assign the same book to the entire class.Have each student select a historical fiction book from a list you offer; suggested reading lists for fifth-graders are available on the PBS website and the Ann Arbor District Library website.Have them create their own book jackets including an illustrative cover, a brief summary of the book, a personal review and a short biography about the author.

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