Today’s Guest Post is from author Roderick Benns. This is the fifth of a five-part series on the how’s and why’s of teaching with historical fiction.
Part Five:Historical fiction promotes diverse perspectives
History is complex and it’s not that the truth is elusive; it is that it is interpretive.
Characters in a historical fiction book obviously have different points of view and will deal in unique ways with the challenges they face. In living their lives, they interpret history for the reader.
Even if the reader takes sides in his or her mind, they may be forever changed by the actions and intent of the characters on the printed page. They will come to understand the history through the motivations and passions of the characters. This is a fulsome experience (engaging the mind and heart while learning) and the payoff is more empathy along with new knowledge.
Historical fiction is meant to capture the essence of the conditions of people living in a specific time period. That essence includes all the ‘grey’ areas history offers – right and wrong, an understanding of morals and ethics, motivations, needs and desires…and how all of this not only can conflict, but most often does. Interpreting the ‘truth’ of history, then, is not something that is easily done. As human beings, we are often compelled to take sides. Through this genre, though, we may at least take sides with more compassion and more empathy.
Roderick Benns is the author of the first two books on the Leaders & Legacies series on Canada’s Prime Ministers as teens, now also available as e-books on Kobo, Kindle, iPad and Nook. You can find his blog at http://www.firesidepublishinghouse.com/blog.html