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Resource List: Books

Adamson, L. G. (1994). Recreating the past: A guide to American and world historical fiction for children and young adults. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. A well-organized annotated bibliography, arranged in sections by geographic region, and within the sections on region or country, laid out by time period. Useful appendices include lists broken down by readability level from grade 1 to grade 10, and interest level from grade 1 to grade 10, including a listing of adult books suitable for teens. Of course, being over a decade old, there is plenty of room for an update, or a companion website organizing subsequent titles in the same way.

The Distant Mirror, Joanne Brown and Nancy St. Clair

Brown, J., & St, C. N. (2006). The distant mirror: Reflections on young adult historical fiction. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press. This is not so much a typical readers’ advisory guide with book recommendations, as it is an impressionistic collection of riffs and essays on the nature of the appeal of historical fiction. In addition to providing an excellent discussion of the evolution of trends in historical fiction such as the treatment of gender, class and race, this is just a lovely, lyrical read.

The Teen Reader's Advisor Rosemary Honnold Image from WorldCat

Honnold, R. M. (2006). The teen reader’s advisor. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. Honnold breaks down the discussion of historical fiction titles across two chapters, prehistory to 1900, then 1900 to the 80s and 90s. The two main chapters are divided into more specific time periods. A full list of the time periods she covers is here.

Reading Rants Cover Image taken from WorldCat

Hubert, J. (2007). Reading rants: A guide to books that rock! New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. A companion volume to the author’s review website geared for teens, Reading Rants, this is a guide for teachers and librarians recommending genre fiction to teens. Chapter 7, “Historical Fiction for Hipsters,” provides advice for how to recommend historical fiction to teens, as well as detailed title recommendations.

Johnson, S. L. (2005). Historical fiction: A guide to the genre. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited covers historical fiction written for adults 1995 to 2004, arranged by subgenre and useful for finding readalikes.

Johnson, S. L. (2009). Historical fiction II: A guide to the genre. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. The second volume, also indexed by subgenre, covers historical fiction written from 2004 to 2008.

Historical fiction for teens, Melissa Rabey, image via WorldCat

Rabey, M. (2011). Historical fiction for teens: A genre guide. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited. A guide to historical fiction written for teenagers from 1975 to 2010, and covering time periods from prehistory to the Vietnam war, as well as subgenres such as historical romance and historical mystery. The books listed are books that would appeal to a reader from approximately 5th grade up, emphasizing historically accurate books. The included capsule reviews of books are written in a conversational tone. Some entries include a suggested readalike, including nonfiction focused on the region and time period covered in the historical fiction title.  Time period keywords, and thematic keywords, like women’s roles offer further guidance.

Saricks, J. G. (2001). The readers’ advisory guide to genre fiction. Chicago: American Library Association. Saricks’ guide provided the framework for much of our class discussion about genre appeal. Her framework of appeal factors is useful. Some of her discussion of historical fiction themes and appeal factors applies to the teen reader seamlessly, other aspects, not so much.


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Resource List: Blogs and Websites

Historical fiction in general (with some YA elements covered)

Adult Reading Round Table (ARRT) Boot Camp Historical: A great, concise cheat sheet for a quick understanding of historical fiction as a genre. Although specifically discussing adult historical fiction readers, the discussion of themes applies to teen readers as well. Some of their author recommendations might not be equally sure bets for a teen audience, but the general perspective is right on.

Historical Fiction Online is a message board for readers of historical fiction. It’s organized by era, by region, by author, and includes a  YA board, as well as specific forums for historical romance, historical fantasy and historical mysteries. Although it’s well organized and easy to navigate, updates are sporadic, and you can’t always tell from a message title whether it includes a helpful book review or recommendation, or a request for more information.

The Historical Fiction Society lists Children’s and Young Adult fiction as a subgenre within historical fiction. It includes informative, well-written reviews, but is tough to navigate because it’s sorted by tags.

The History Girls: A group of published historical fiction authors, some of whom write YA, write an eclectic, informative and quirky history blog.

Reading the Past: News, views and reviews of historical fiction by Sarah Johnson. A librarian and the author of two readers’ advisory guides to historical fiction, Sarah Johnson writes book reviews, and covers news and trends within the genre of historical fiction. Also has an excellent blogroll of other historical fiction bloggers.

Social Networking

The Historical Novel Society, a Facebook group, is composed of authors in the genre as well as fans and readers. Asking for specific book and author recommendations yielded a whole range of titles, authors and even blog posts from members.

The Young Adult Historical Fiction Society has lively discussions about the genre, including a monthly group read-along, sort of like a virtual book group. GoodReads can also be a good resource, in general, to hunt for historical fiction tagged to a specific time period.

YA Historical Fiction

Nancy Keane’s website is a massive and comprehensive resource for childrens’ and YA booktalks in general. Her historical fiction booktalks are helpfully arranged according to time period.

On A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy  New Jersey librarian Lizzie Burns blogs about YA fiction for School Library Journal. Here are the posts tagged as historical fiction.

Y.S. Lee, author of the Mary Quinn mysteries, set in Victorian London, blogs about the choices she makes as a historical fiction writer, as well as her writing process and life in general.

Blogs Written For Teens

Teenreads is part of the Book Report network. Here is a Historical Fiction Roundup and the tag for their historical fiction reviews

NineteenTeen is a blog about the 19th century, written for teens by historical fiction authors Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott. It includes book reviews and fun historical information about what it would be like to be a teenager in the 19th century. Here’s a post on butlers.

Historical Fiction For Hipsters on Reading Rants, covers all kinds of historical fiction, in reviews written for a teen and young adult audience.

The best way to find the historical fiction posts on GreenBeanTeenQueen’s blog is to search using the keyword “historical fiction.” Here’s some Downton Abbey Inspired YA.

Past Tense is the historical fiction section on Guys Lit Wire.

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Resource List: Articles

Articles for Reference and Further Research

Smith, Scot. (2007) “The Death of Genre: Why the Best YA fiction Often Defies Classification” The ALAN Review, 35.1: 43-50) Includes possibly the best explanation of historical fiction subgenres going.

Brown, J. (1998). Historical fiction or fictionalized history? problems for writers of historical novels for young adults. Retrieved from neatly sums up all the questions surrounding the definition of historical fiction, particularly for young adults.

Dublin, A. (June, 2005). Why should young adults read Holocaust literature, anyway?  AJL Convention, Oakland, California. Retrieved from:  A conference paper discussing literature and diaries about the Holocaust, curriculum development, and whether teens read and enjoy books from the period.

McElmeel, Sharron L.  “Getting It Right: Historical Fiction or Not?” Library Media Connection, Jan/Feb2009, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p. 40-41.  retrieved from This article is particularly interesting because it addresses the changing context of a book written several decades ago, and might contain dated elements. McElmeel’s extremely narrow definition of historical fiction requires the story to be tied to specific, accurate historical events; distinguishing historical from more general period fiction, which evokes the historical setting and social context more generally as a means to address more universal themes.

Hoffert, B. (2012, April 30). Historical fiction in the making.Library Journal, Retrieved from Examining the emergence and evolution of historical fiction as a genre, focusing on adult historical fiction. The article expresses the appeal of historical fiction beautifully. “Works of historical fiction  have one thing in common: through them, we enter a world different from our own, almost as in a fantasy. But it’s a real world, and with the best books we leave with some real understanding. Not that historical novels are encapsulated history lessons…What historical fiction instead delivers is an era’s sensibility. ”

Life during world war ii. (2009, November 04). Retrieved from A round-up of a few YA novels focusing on World War II.

MacLeod, A. S. (1998). Writing backward: Modern marvels in historical fiction. Retrieved from Taking a sharp look at accuracy and creative license in historical fiction, this article focuses particularly on the limitations of women’s roles and possibilities.

Paterson, Katherine. “Cultural Politics for a Writer’s Point of View.” The New Advocate, Spring, 1994. Retrieved from: (the source of her quote about YA historical fiction protagonists kicking the walls of their societies.)

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