Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looking for the History in Historical Fiction

When presenting to students and teachers about my book, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, I always mention Jim Murphy's non-fiction title, Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never Ending Search for a Cure. So it was with great interest that I read a blog post by Lisa Storm Fink called Looking for the History in Historical Fiction: An Epidemic for Reading.

Lisa shares ways teachers can use historical fiction and nonfiction titles about communicable diseases in the classroom. I particularly like that she offers two attachments:

  1. Questions to Consider While Reading Historical Fiction and
  2. A List of Applicable Titles.
Several more books about infectious diseases have been written since the list in number two was compiled. I would suggest teachers also consider the following:

1. Winnie's War by Jennie Moss, (Spanish Influenza).

2. Blue and its sequel Comfort by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, (Polio).

3. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock, (Tuberculosis).

4. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy.


  1. TB, once a fixture of 19th C literature, is not a familiar scourge to young readers. You are so right to bring related books to their attention.

  2. I was shocked to learn that over a million deaths per year still happen due to tuberculosis. It has largely been wiped out in the western world, is still a scourge in Africa and parts of Asia.