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Historical Fiction Novel Study for 4th grade
Old 08-15-2018, 04:47 PM
 
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So, my new principal says that I can do more novel studies this year. Yay!!! I am looking for some new ideas for a historical fiction selection. In the past I did Sign of the Beaver, but the 5th grade teachers have started to do it now.


I've seen lists, but what is your favorite one for a novel study?


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Old 08-16-2018, 04:02 AM
 
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Joshua's Song

I absolutely LOVE this story!! I do a lot with character development, the Habits of Mind the two main characters show throughout the book, and I also teach about prohibition, child labor laws (and how they were vastly ignored at this time in history), newsies, amendments to the Constitution, immigration and the plight of those living in tenements, and so much more. The kids end up loving the story (most do, anyway). It's a bit higher level for my struggling fourth graders, so I have recorded myself reading it for those kiddos that want to listen to it as they read. Even those struggling readers love to learn more about Charlie (the mean head honcho newsie) and learn that he's actually a really great kid.

The one thing that I love most about the book is that it covers a little known piece of Boston history: the Molasses Flood. In January 1919, there was a huge molasses tank in the North End of Boston. Because of weather changes and poor construction, the tank exploded and sent 2. 3 million gallons of molasses through the tenements, killing 21, injuring many others, and causing millions of dollars in damage.

I show a couple of videos I found where a historian discusses the reasons why this event happened, and after a key chapter in the book ("The Explosion"), I have the kids pick up and hold a gallon container of molasses to see how heavy it is. This gives them an idea of how heavy all that molasses must have been. I then pour a large amount of it into a bowl, and actually have the kids put their hands in it, so they can see and feel exactly how sticky and thick it is. They also get a sense of the smell. I feel that this helps them to truly understand what the people that drowned might have gone through. (In the years that I've done this, the kids really love getting their hands gross and sticky. ) After everyone has had a chance to experience the molasses, we have a great discussion about what those poor victims must have gone through, and why it did so much damage.

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, feel free to PM me!
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Old 08-16-2018, 04:25 AM
 
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The Whipping Boy, set in medieval England.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:50 AM
 
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Esperanza Rising by Ryan
Brady by Fritz (underground railroad)
Stone Fox by Gardiner
Nory Ryan’s Song by Giff (Irish potato famine)

Any of the “I Survived” series would work well for historical fiction.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:17 PM
 
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Number the Stars


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Old 08-16-2018, 04:20 PM
 
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There are also new historical fiction books from American Girl that are really good

Little House on the Prairie


This is a great list, I’ve used many of them before:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/...orical_Fiction

I like using classic literature for book studies that students generally wouldn’t choose on their own.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:06 PM
 
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I always liked to use Number the Stars.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:43 AM
 
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Quote:
I always liked to use Number the Stars.
Are you using this with small groups, or as a whole class? I would think it would be very challenging for lower readers.
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Old 08-21-2018, 06:30 PM
 
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Number the Stars was a book that my 4th graders absolutely loved last year. I did it as a read aloud and the discussions we had were very good. It also sparked an interest in some of my other historical fiction books that students then read on their own.
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