Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Getting Students Involved in Authenticating Historical Fiction
The Reading Teacher article, "Getting Students Involved in Authenticating Historical Fiction," details the advantages and potential problems with using historical fiction in the classroom. Historical fiction makes history come alive for students, but sometimes authors make mistakes and can convey inaccurate information. By involving students in checking the author's research, that can alleviate the problem and teach valuable research skills in the process.
If a classroom were using my novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, one of the first things to authenticate would be whether I did my homework about tuberculosis. An excellent resource to do that is Jim Murphy's, INVINCIBLE MICROBE TUBERCULOSIS AND THE NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR A CURE.
The hardest chapter to write in THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL was Chapter 26, "The Model T and Me." Students could visit The Henry Ford Museum website and also watch numerous YouTube videos about how to drive a Model T.
Lots of details in THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL required research. A good source for clothing of the 1920's is EVERYDAY FASHIONS 1909-1920.
The most fun part of my research involved interviewing older family members. It was fascinating to hear firsthand about outhouses, bathing weekly in a tin tub, winding water from the well, and life before electronic gadgets.
THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL could be used during Women's History Month to discuss the role of women in society. Jessie's choices were very limited in 1922. Was she portrayed accurately for the book's setting? I'll let my readers be the judge.