Remembering History by Reading Historical Fiction
Understanding where you come from as an individual and a culture is important for everyone. It’s only by understanding history that we can fully comprehend what’s occurring in the present and predict what the future will bring. However, not everyone has an interest in studying history. For some, it’s alienating to read dry facts about people who seem so distant and disconnected from current life. For others, it’s simply unengaging.
Reading historical fiction is an effective way to bring history to life and encourage people to learn about their roots. By blending fact and fiction, these stories offer great value to learners of all ages.
When you read about history in a textbook, it can be difficult to truly appreciate how various events and figures impacted the world. Furthermore, it’s hard to remember these key names and dates when they are presented as straight factoids.
When readers encounter this information in an engaging story instead, it provides the necessary context for them to actually absorb the information and fit it into their own frame of reference. However, it’s important to note that not everything presented in historical fiction is fact, and some books are far more historically accurate than others. Therefore, reading fiction should supplement nonfiction rather than replace it.
Creating Empathy with Fiction
Perhaps the biggest hurdle history as a subject faces is the notion that it is boring to study. Students often wonder why they should care about what happened to people who lived and died long before they were born.
Historical fiction closes the gap between past and present by encouraging the reader to empathize with the characters and thus care about what happens to them. Likewise, these books can help the reader imagine what it would be like to live through the events portrayed, making the information more relevant. They feel closer to the story – and closer to history.