UNC Middle School Lit discussion

Historical Fiction assignment: Witness and The Arrival

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message 1: by Bev (new)

Bev | 3 comments Mod
Answer the following questions for each book:

1. According to the HF powerpoint from class, and your own experience/opinion, would this book count as Historical Fiction? Why? (Support your answer.)
2. According to the classification system covered in class, what kind of historical fiction is this book? Support your answer.
3. What broader themes do you think this book addresses that could be used with middle grades students? Support your answer with examples from the text.
4. How might a teacher use these books with his/her students?

message 2: by Stacey (new)

Stacey | 11 comments Witness by Karen Hesse:
1. Yes, this would count as Historical Fiction. The author did not live in this time period and it is from a previous generation. Also, it is referencing an important part of history (segregation). It is fiction because the actual characters and specific events are not accounted for (however, similar accounts may be real).
2. It is soft historical fiction. All of the characters are made-up and it does not name specific well-knonw events.
3. The book addresses the themes of segregation, discrimination, and the ability to speak out. The part about writing the note to Helen Keller and then receiving the book for it really interested me. It communicates the ability to voice and idea and for people to actually listen.
4. This book is unlike any other book I have read. The type of writing is unusual (poetry/sentence fragments). A teacher could use this as a creative outlet to show students not everything is regulated in a certain way. Also, an art teacher could use this book to complete an interdisciplinary approach. They could read selections and then have the students draw the scene the poem/fragment is describing. I think this would work because each part is so short, so imagining the specific scene is important to understanding the work.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
1&2. Maybe? If I counted it as Historical Fiction, it would have to be the Fantasy Historical Fiction because of the imaginary animals in the pictures. It is about history and uses made-up people and never specifically names a certain event (except for the allusion to NYC with the twin towers). There have been debates as to whether Fantasy can be historical fiction, so that is where my concern lies.
3. The book addresses the themes of moving/immigration, family, and feeling at home. The pictures depict a struggle to fit in to the new culture and a finality of finally fitting in.
4. A teacher might use this book as an introduction to a unit about immigration. It is a different way to start a lesson and the students can have the images in their head throughout the entire learning experience.

message 3: by Madison (new)

Madison Pinkowski | 12 comments The Arrival:
1. This definitely falls into the "Historical Fantasy" category, which may or may be truly historical fiction. With this book, I am almost leaning more towards not historical fiction, because some of the scenes, events, and animals are so fantastical and science fiction-like.
2. If it were to be considered Historical Fiction, it would fall into the "soft" category, because it contains historical elements (immigration), but does not portray any specific real historical figures or significant events in history.
3. This book deals with fitting in to a new place, which is something that most middle-schoolers can relate to. The images of the man using a map and asking directions from other people relate to physically being in a new place, and the images of the man looking at the picture of his family, writing letters, etc. relate to feeling alone in a new place.
4. This book would be a great precursor to a Social Studies unit on immigration at the turn of the twentieth century. Telling a complete immigration story in pictures would help personalize whatever immigration stories students will gain through lectures or textbook readings.

1. Yes, Witness is Historical Fiction. It was written in 2001, which is much more than one generation after the time period covered in the book. Also, the book is set in 1924, which is a time period in which the author did not live. The book's specific historical detail (KKK) is crucial to both the plot and character development.
2. Witness is soft historical fiction. None of the characters are real historical figures, but it does contain historical elements and a general social and political landscape (rural Vermont during KKK uprisings).
3. This book addresses themes of racism (KKK wants the Sutters out of town because they are black), discrimination (no one wants to watch Leonora dance or play with her because she is black; people don't buy Ira Hirsch's shoes because he is Jewish), and injustice (the two boys that killed the Jewish boy in Chicago do not get a fair trial).
4. This book would be great as a joint social studies-language arts unit: social studies could focus on racism, segregation, etc., while language arts focused on poetry, characterization, dialect, etc.

message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie B. | 13 comments Witness:
1. I think that Witness would be considered historical fiction because historical details play a crucial part in the story. The history of the KKK and overt racism in 1920s America is featured, making it fall under this category. Being published in 2001, Witness was published much more than twenty years prior. This story meets both definitions of historical fiction.
2. Witness would be considered soft historical fiction because the story centers around the characters. While the historical elements are important and are present, it is ultimately the story of the characters struggles that drive the piece.
3. This book could be used to address themes of racism, courage, insecurity, and inclusion. Detailing the struggles of African American Leanora Sutter and Jewish Esther Hirsh in a tiny racist town, Witness shows how prejudice can affect a community. The desire to fit in and be part of a group is explored, explaining why many chose to become part of groups like the KKK.
4. A teacher could use this book during February to demonstrate the advancements made by the Civil Rights Movement. Witness could help students understand the history of racism in America by providing a protagonist who is relatable to middle school students. It could, of course, address the themes mentioned earlier.
The Arrival:
1. Published in 2006, this book would be considered historical fiction according to the 1987 definition. To me, however, it doesn’t seem like true historical fiction. Even though there is a subtype of historical fantasy, I don’t consider that to be truly historical. The elements of fantasy and odd creatures seem too strange to be considered historical fiction. The pictures of the city and strange machines make it hard for me to place it in that category.
2. If this book were to be considered historical fiction, it would fall into the historical fantasy category. Abstract drawings and fantastical creatures are prevalent throughout the story. The two giant humans in the harbor of the city would be an example.
3. This book could show the themes of fear, determination, and the struggle of the immigrant. For students struggling to fit in with their new surroundings, The Arrival could show these students that even someone as isolated as an immigrant can be successful and happy. Despite the protagonist’s struggles to find shelter and food, he ultimately prevails.
4. A teacher could use this book to teach about the history of immigration in America. This book is unclear as to the origin of the immigrant, so he could be from any country. This story could also explain why America is considered a “melting pot” and yield discussions on the contributions made by immigrants.

message 5: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra (apswan) | 10 comments The Arrival:
1. I don't think this is historical fiction, because we don't know exactly the time period. In the beginning, it appears to be set in a particular time period that could make is historical fiction, however, once the unique animals and scenes appear, it becomes more of a fantasy than historical book.
2. Not historical fiction.
3. I think a broad theme this covers is immigration, which today is a big political issue. It could help middle school age children understand the struggles that immigrants face in a new environment, and maybe help them be more understanding of their immigrant peers. It also shows that family is important, as he views pictures of and writes to his family.
4. I think teachers would use this book as a read aloud in front of the class, and could ask children to relate the issues of the story and fitting in to what they are going through in their lives. A teacher might even have children assign dialogue to the story.

1. This book would definitely be historical fiction. It was published in 2001, and set in 1924. To be historical fiction, the book must be set at least one generation before it is published, and Witness meets this guideline. Segregation and the KKK is central to this novel and are time specific, adding to its historical fiction context.
2. Witness is soft historical fiction because none of the characters are real historical figures—it just has a historical backdrop.
3. This book addresses major themes of discrimination and racism. This is shown by the way characters treat the black characters in the novel.
4. I think this would be a good book to assign as out of class reading, and maybe connect it to a unit on slavery and segregation.

message 6: by Kristin (new)

Kristin (kmhardin) | 14 comments The Arrival:
1. I do not feel that this could be considered historical fiction. Yes, there is a storyline surrounding immigration; however, the characters are fictional and some aspects of the story are fantastical. It could be argued that immigration is the historical element that drives the story because many scenes show aspects and processes of immigration that did really happen. However, I feel that the fantastical elements outweigh the historical foundation and really bring the story up out of any real historical context.
2. If the book were considered historical fiction, it would be historical fantasy fiction because of the other-worldly and magical settings and creatures. It could also be soft fiction because it does not centered around a specific historic event and does not contain historical figures.
3. The themes of immigration, diversity, and perseverance are addressed in this book. The father leaves his family and his home to go to a new place that is unfamiliar and very different from his home. He perseveres in his searches and adventures to be reunited with his family and create a new home for them.
4. The idea of immigration could be introduced and supported with this book, while keeping in mind that it is a fictional story. The process of leaving family, getting on a boat, being inspected by doctors, and struggling in a new world is something that could be shown to students in a memorable way. It would allow for discussion of how immigration really was and about the history of the United States and its diversity.
1. This is definitely historical fiction. It encompasses real, historical issues and each character is driven in some way by them. These historical events are crucial to really understanding the lives of the characters and where they are coming from.
2. This would probably be soft historical fiction because the characters are fictional and the focus is really just on the culture and social lives of the characters during a real historical time period.
3. Issues such as racial discrimination, segregation, and racial violence are the main driving forces behind the situations in this book. This book is especially powerful because of the many perspectives in the town. The reader is able to see snippets of people’s lives on either side of the issue and to see what motivates them to speak out against the challenges they face or to follow the norm.
4. This would be a great book to use to supplement learning about the civil rights time period and racial discrimination because it gives real insight into people’s lives and how it affected them (even though they are fictional, their stories reveal true-to-life experiences). It would also be a great way to encourage a free-form, personal writing style because of its lack of restraint and use of dialect.

message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 15 comments Witness:
1. Witness is historical fiction because it focuses on significant issues of America’s past including racism, the Ku Klux Klan, violence committed because of a person’s religion, and Prohibition and bootlegging. Furthermore, because the author was not alive during the time period in which the story takes place, the book follows the criteria of Adamson’s A Reference Guide to Historical Fiction for Children and Young Adults.
2. Witness is soft historical fiction because while the story is based on history, real-life historical figures are not included in the characters. While one character does “run booze” and real people actually did that, the character is not a recreation of a real-life person.
3. Witness could help reinforce to middle schoolers the difference between right and wrong. This could be discussed, for example, when a rock is thrown through Sara Chickering’s window because she is allowing people who are Jewish to stay with her. Middle schoolers could also look at friendship (between Leanora and Esther, for example).
4. A teacher could use Witness to demonstrate to students how many different ways there are to present stories. This book could also be used to show students various relationships that existed between individuals during this tension-filled time period without making the students read it from a textbook and without directly telling the students.

The Arrival
1. The Arrival could possibly be considered historical fiction. It appears to depict a massive wave of immigration, an important feature in the histories of many countries. However, it is not exactly clear when and where this story takes place. If the author is referring to a time period before he was born, the argument for calling The Arrival historical fiction is more convincing. At the same time, however, some components of the book make suggestions that are not believable (some of the animals, for example). Because of this, it seems more appropriate to categorize The Arrival as historical fantasy, and fantasy, technically, is a type of fiction. However, that label brings up the issue of whether or not historical fantasy is historical fiction.
2. If The Arrival is, indeed, historical fantasy or fiction, it is soft. No real-life historical figures are characters.
3. The Arrival addresses the broader themes of immigration, the importance of family, perseverance, and hard work. Immigration is an important topic in the United States today, and a teacher could use this book perhaps to look at a contemporary issue. In addition, it is clear that the protagonist and his family are unhappy when they are separated and overjoyed when they are reunited. Also, the protagonist diligently looks for a job, does not give up when he does that job incorrectly, and saves enough money to send to his family so that they can join him. Furthermore, he does all of this despite a language barrier.
4. A teacher could use this book to discuss adjusting to new places, situations, or circumstances. A teacher could also use this book to demonstrate another unique way of presenting a story, particularly because there are no words. Interestingly, several stories are told within the main story of the protagonist.

message 8: by Diana (new)

Diana | 7 comments The Arrival

1. I do not believe The Arrival is historical fiction because although it deals with immigration the characters are fictional and the fantasy aspect plays a big role in the story. I think it's a good way to bring some history into the story to make readers aware of it, so if it were considered historical fiction it would definitely be historical fantasy.

2. The Arrival is a soft historical fiction because the characters are not real historical people.

3. The Arrival includes themes of immigration, moving, family, and fitting in. The story shows how it can be difficult to move to a new place and you will miss those you were close to. With the growing diversity in schools today, there may be students who have been separated from their families or even just moved and are having difficulty adjusting.

4. A teacher could use this in the classroom to show students how difficult it may be to adjust after moving or even to introduce immigration. Looking at the topic from a fantasy point of view could remove any bias about where the story takes place or who is involved.


1. Yes, this is historical fiction because the historical events that are taking place are directly impacting the characters and the plot of the story. The time period is not one in which the author lived and it was several generations ago as well.

2. This is soft historical fiction because the characters are not real historical figures, but are made up.

3. Witness includes themes of discrimination and segregation. It also includes peer pressure or the desire to fit in with the KKK aspect of it (why people joined).

4. A teacher could use this book to show how racism can hurt a community, such as the classroom community and outside the classroom. A teacher could also use the book to bring up trying to fit in by explaining that it's important to stand up for what you think is right rather than join the bandwagon. It would also be great to use for the history of it. I think students would appreciate the history in this form.

message 9: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 12 comments The Arrival by Shaun Tan
1. Though this book may not be technically considered Historical Fiction due to its fantastical elements, I would definitely consider it to be so because it focuses on the story of one man who immigrates from one world to the next. Immigration is a very important thing in history and the implications of immigration for those who are immigrating and those in the country to which they are arriving are both historical and realistic. This book has both a global theme and a focus on an ordinary immigrant, therefore making it Historical Fiction.
2. This book is an example of Historical Fantasy. Though many do not consider Historical Fantasy a real type of Historical Fiction, I feel that if a book has enough elements of a true Historical Fiction book then it should be included. Though the book has fantastical elements as well, it does have the qualities of “Soft” Historical Fiction. Tan’s book provides a general setting that involves deeply historical issues. I find it to have great historical value though it is fantastical in nature.
3. Tan’s book address themes about immigration that are so important. These include the process of immigration in history, the experiences of individuals who immigrated, what it’s like to be in a foreign country and not speak the language of that particular country, separation of families, common destinations, and others. Immigration is explored through this fantastical novel and important situations surrounding the overall immigration experience are highlighted.
4. This book would be an awesome book for the introducing a certain social studies lesson that involved talking about the aspects of immigration. This would be a fun way to give the students a fictional representation of what it would have been like to have been an immigrant and go through the process of leaving your own country and moving to another through somewhere like Ellis Island. This would also allow the students to relate with students in the class or school who might have immigrated themselves.

Witness by Karen Hesse
1. This book is definitely Historical Fiction. Historical detail is crucial to both the plot and the character development of this collection of poems, and a true sense of history of the 1920s is accurately portrayed through the fictional characters of the book. This book highlights the experiences of ordinary people rather than heroes and gives insight to the lives of lesser known segments of society. This book fits both the 1987 and 2006 definitions.
2. This book is “Soft” Historical Fiction. Though the fictional characters are realistic and lead realistic lives for that period in history, there are no truly historical figures in the book. Also, the book gives a very general picture of what it was like during the 1920s though it uses historical elements to create this picture.
3. I was surprised about how many themes and topics of discussion that this book addresses. It addresses the issues surrounding race and discrimination against African-Americans and Jews, the issue of the existence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, gender roles inside and outside the home, issues in a school setting between African-American and Caucasian students, issues surrounding the controversy over religious support for hate groups, issues about the new culture of the 1920s in America, and others.
4. This book would be an awesome whole-class read. Students could read this book and then talk about with their classmates in a group discussion. Getting students to think about these themes that are such significant parts of United States’ history is very important, especially in middle school when adolescents are beginning to become interested in and understand social and political issues. I feel that this book is light enough to use with the whole class, as it is written in poem form, but that it is heavy enough to where good discussion would definitely come out of it.

message 10: by Beth (new)

Beth Wright | 12 comments Witness
1.I would say that this book counts as historical fiction due to the fact that it deals with historical facts such as: KKK, racism, and segregation, all things that occurred in Vermont in 1924. The historical elements of the novel have an impact on all the characters, therefore, it is apparent that Witness is indeed historical fiction.

2.This book is soft historical fiction due to the fact that the 11 characters are people from history, yet the plot elements are realistic to this time period, 1924.

3.This book involves elements of racism, discrimination, segregation, acceptance, friendship, and hatred. In middle school, this book could be used to explore several concepts. One being the need to accept others regardless if they are unlike you, whether in personality or skin color, as Esther did for Leanora.

4.Witness could be used to explore the history of racism and segregation while also being used to show students a different way of writing and different stylistic elements. This book is unusual in the fact that all the “chapters” are short poems that include no capitalization, and come from different character’s viewpoints. Therefore, not only would the students be learning about our nation’s history and important themes from the novel, but they would be reading a different form of literature.

The Arrival
1.Although it involves immigration, a historical element, some of the images in the graphic novel make me believe that it is not historical fiction. Despite the fact that some of the images are based on photographs taken from Ellis Island, New York, there are many fantastical elements that appear in the images, such as little dragon animals, and different symbols that do not pertain to the reality of Ellis Island.

2.If this were to be considered historical fiction, it would definitely be in the historical fantasy category and would be considered soft historical fantasy since the theme of the graphic novel is immigration and that is a historical element. But the graphic novel lacks any historical figures that would make it hard historical fiction.

3.This book deals with immigration, family, and the absence of loved ones. This book could be used when discussing immigration into America. This book could also be given to immigrant students who are possibly separated from members of their family or students who are struggling to fit into a new society or culture.

4.This book could be used as an introduction to a unit on immigration. It could be used to explore immigration into America and could raise discussions as to how people originally came to America and that could lead to a discussion of student’s heritages. With the different images, students would be able to picture different elements as they study the concepts.

message 11: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Davis | 8 comments Witness:

1. Yes I would consider it historical fiction. It was set during a specific historical period, the early twentieth century (1924) when racism and segregation were prevalent. Also, it was published in 2001, clearly more than 20 years after the period.

2. It is soft historical fiction because it centers on fictional characters, but the historical setting and elements are accurate.

3. The book addresses segregation and racism, focusing on both African Americans and Jews, and their treatment from the KKK.

4. The book would be great to look at when studying different forms of literature because it is written as poetry. It could also be used in a social studies lesson when talking about civil rights or other segregation/racism topics, such as Slavery.

The Arrival

1. I do not really think this book is considered historical fiction. I think one could argue it is historical fantasy, but I am not sure I consider that historical fiction because the historical period was not dominant to me. I was more focused on the pictures of the creatures/animals, and they are a little too fantasy for me to consider it historical fiction.

2. Historical fantasy. If the argument was made that it was historical fiction it would be soft because it is centered on imaginary characters, not historical figures.

3. I feel that immigration is the dominant theme in the book, along with the importance of family. It shows that immigration is a hard process and it is often difficult for those who immigrate to be without their loved ones. I feel that it also touches on the idea of perseverance because the protagonist is faced with many hardships.

4. Since immigration is a hot topic in politics right now I feel like this book could be used to talk about the issue and perhaps how immigration has changed over the years—or how it hasn’t. Students could talk about the challenges that face those who move to a new place especially the ones with a language barrier.

message 12: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 13 comments Witness
1. Yes, I feel like this book should be considered Historical Fiction. It is based on segregation, a historical time period that had ended about 20 years before the book was written.
2. I feel that Witness is definitely soft historical fiction. The characters and the events in the story do not mimic exact events from this time period. Instead the historical elements are fictional ideas that play off of racial issues.
3. The themes Witness portrays are segregation, racism, and perspective and voice.
4. I feel like the style in which this book is written is one of the most important elements of this book. I think this would be a fun way to introduce poems into a child's world because often times poems are not a favorite type of literature. Also, it would be a perfect book to link up with a social studies lesson on racism and segregation.

The Arrival
1.The Pictures in this novel are very real and Historically sound to the time period of immigration through Ellis Island. However, the reality of that time period is not fully expressed because the fanciful animals seem to take over the pages. Also, although this particular story deals with immigration into Ellis Island I feel like it could replicate the story of immigration to anywhere. Since immigration is still prominent the story is not more than 20 years removed from the theme.
2. I would say either just a fiction book or possibly a historical fantasy. The animals are the only thing that make the fanciful impact on the graphic novel though. I think I would classify this book as just a fiction book.
3. This book displays themes of immigration, separation, finding oneself, and I would say artistic themes.
4. This would be a really good book focusing on adjustment. Although immigration is very prevalent usually only one or two students will be able to directly identify with this idea. But many students can identify with having to adjust to a new situation- all alongside having to adjust to the new idea of reading a graphic novel.

message 13: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Barto | 7 comments For The Witness:
1. I do think this book is considered historical fiction. One of the focuses of the book is the history and time period. This history plays a large affect on the plot and characters of the book.
2. I'm going to agree with pretty much everyone and say that this would be considered soft historical fiction due to the fact that the characters were never truly alive nor do they exactly mimic a historical occurrence.
3. I think that this book would bring up great discussion on segregation and differences between people groups in general.
4. I think that this book could be a definite whole class read. It could easily and directly be incorporated into a unit around immigration.

The Arrival:
1. Since this book doesn't seem to be dominated or "run" by its historical period, I would say that it is not historical fiction.
2. Not historical fiction.
3. Again racism and the struggle for acceptance are themes within the book.
4. I think that this book could be used as supplemental reading added to a unit about racism, racist based historical events, immigration, etc.

message 14: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 15 comments The Arrival
1. It depends on how nit-picky you are going to be about the definition of historical fiction. According to Brown and St. Clair this would not be historical fiction because there is no specific historical detail. The history is not a third character.
2. If it were to be classified as historical fiction, it would like be considered historical fantasy and soft historical fiction.
3. Immigration is something that can be talked about with almost any group of people. Also, sacrifice is a common theme. The man had to leave his family in order to help his family.
4. A teacher could use this as a "read-aloud" book with the whole class. It may be difficult for students to understand what exactly is happening without any words, and during a read-aloud they would be able to ask questions. It would be good to read this book in conjunction with other books with similar themes. That might help the students understand the story better.

1. This book could definitely be classified as historical fiction by any standards given from the powerpoint in class. It has specific historical details, like the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses outside of people's homes. And the historical period does more than just set the backdrop, it is the basis for the whole story.
2. I would classify this book as soft historical fiction. It does contain historical elements, but it does not contain any significant historical figures. Instead of weaving together lives of fictional and nonfictional characters, it is about the general social, cultural, physical, and political landscape.
3. This book could bring up some great discussion on racism, comparing racism then to racism today. It could also bring up discussion on love and risking your life for those you love.
4. This could either be a whole class read (not read-aloud) or a small group read. Either one would work. It could easily tie into a unit about historical fiction or racism. It could possibly tie into a unit on plays as well, or maybe as a transition between regular novels and plays.

message 15: by Lizzy (new)

Lizzy | 10 comments Witness:
1. Yes, I think this book could be considered historical fiction. The story is based on the issues surrounding segregation, which took place over two decades ago.
2. I think it would be considered a "soft" historical fiction. This is due to the fact that characters don't exactly match up with exact events (there aren't any historical figures in this book).
3. This book would help youth understand segregation and the affects of it on others. Often times kids think that segregation/racism is something of the past, but I think this book will help kids see that racism still occurs today/
4. I think it would be a great class read that would allow students to read a book written in a different form than most.

The Arrival:
1. No, I don't think this could be considered a historical fiction because although some pieces of history are included, it is not the main focus.
2. Well since its not a historical fiction, I would just consider it fiction.
3. This book would be great for discussing immigration (or just moving)and fitting in, which is a major struggle for many middle schoolers.
4. I think this would be great to tie into a social studies lesson on immigration and Ellis Island. I know when I was in fifth grade, we read some historical fiction books to tie into our immigration lesson, as well as did activities such as filling out forms to come into the "United States" etc. I think making a whole unit out of it would be great.

message 16: by Holli (new)

Holli Jacobs | 8 comments Witness
1. I would say that this book does fall into the Historical Fiction category. The book was written about specific historical events, and these event are what lead the story.
2. I would classify this book as Soft Historical Fiction, because the characters aren't necessarily "real" but the events are actual historical occurrences.
3. The historical events mentioned in the book are racism, segregation, and discrimination. Evidence of this is seen throughout the book, especially when the KKK is introduced.
4. Because of the poetry elements to the book it would easy to integrate art ideas into a lesson involving this book, and obviously it would be a great way to start a section in Social Studies about racism.

The Arrival
1. This book was a bit difficult to classify because of the fantasy spin it has. However, the book does bring up situations like immigration...so I would classify it as historical fantasy.
2.If I decided to go with Historical Fiction on this book it would definitely be soft because the characters are fictional but the events are historical.
3. The themes mentioned are immigration, importance of family, and the struggle of fitting in to a place. There is evidence of this in the pictures throughout the book.
4. This would a cool way to introduce a Social Studies lesson discussing immigration. It would also be a great to way talk about accepting other people... especially if yo have a new student.

message 17: by Caley (new)

Caley Booth | 7 comments 1. I believe that both Witness and The Arrival would count as historical fiction as their main focuses are issues that are integral parts of our past. Although the books differ in many ways they are common in the fact that their themes are a part of our past and issues that are important for readers to understand in a historical context on an individual level.
2. Soft Historical History for both because both have real instances of history but the way they are presented and the characters that are experiencing the instances are not.
3. Although issues of racism and immigration aren't occuring at the level they occur in these books, i think they can be better understood if the students discuss themes such as where they feel accepted or what they consider to be home, and what they feel like either separates or brings them together with friends whether it be gender, race, or where they are from.
4. They would both be great used as "segway" books that lead into a unit or lesson plan. in my history class now we learn every unit told as a story, and before each lesson the teacher points to a book or historical document that he reads parts aloud to us. this is helpful to put the issues into real perspectives.

message 18: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Utin | 12 comments The Arrival: Shaun Tan

1. I would say this book counts as historical fiction because it represents a historical event. In addition, the author has not lived in the time period this book is set in. You can feel a sense of the history of immigration being portrayed and see similarities in the struggles that the immigrants in The Arrival and in real life lived through during the early-mid 1900s.
2. I would classify this book as soft historical fantasy fiction because the illustrations have fantasy-like creatures and images. It also includes historical elements; but has does not have any historical figures.
3. I think this book holds universal truths for many cultures when it comes to the issues of adjusting to a new place as an immigrant. To help middle schoolers relate, you could compare it to when your family moves to a new place. You feel lost, alone, sad, etc.
4. This would be a great book to incorporate in a lesson about social issues in America focusing on immigration. This book would be great for kids who have good imaginations and want to read unusual books. It’s always good to look at things through different lens to gain a new perspective.

Witness: Karen Hesse

1. This book would definitely count as historical fiction because it is depicting a scenario set in the early 1900s right after the civil war. In a very different way, it shows the hatred and trials people suffered through because of the Ku Klux Klan.
2. I would say that this is hard historical fiction because it included a historical figure (Coolidge) and the historical events that happen effect/cause the turning points of the story.
3. I think that this book is a soft way of presenting the trials and hardships that African Americans, Jews, and Catholics endured. It shows the negative effect of prejudice and bigotry in a way that kids can understand. By seeing these effects, they can embrace a cause to fight against discrimination.
4. This book would be useful when discussing US History/Civil War, specifically to show the aftermath that is not emphasized. This book would be great for kids who are interested in history for sure.

message 19: by Janey (new)

Janey Elmore | 15 comments Witness
1. I would classify Witness as a historical fiction novel because it gives insight to the reader about a past time period (early 1920s) and historical events (segregation) that shaped our nation. The characters are not depictions of actual historical heroes or recognizable people; however, the fictional characters depict what was going on during the historical setting.
2. For Witness, I would classify it in the category of “soft” historical fiction for two reasons. The events and characters are not historically known outside of the plot of the book. The political and social themes of the plot in general, however, are historical.
3. Racism still is occurring today. The giant themes in this book of racism and discrimination are ones that middle school students of any ethnicity may be faced with. Also, minority students who have moved to America recently, when they were younger, or who have immigrant parents can relate to these characters (Reynard Alexander- “a negro, a Jew, a foreigner? Their problems are of no concern to the clan” –pg 69) and the isolation that one can feel.
4. This book could be integrated into a classroom in many different avenues. The book could be read outside of class or inside of class, individually or as a read-aloud. If it was a read-aloud, students could stand up and read about one particular character or even perform a play of some sorts. One assignment in particular that I thought of is having the students interview an an adult that is a minority who may have themselves experienced segregation or had parents that had lived during this time period.

1. I have a hard time placing this book into the historical fiction realm. The pictures of cities that look futuristic with bizarre buildings and machines make it, for me, far from historical. I will say though that it deals with the issue of immigration and identity that has been affecting the world since the beginning of mankind.
2. If I did allow this book to be classified as historical fiction then it would be placed in the historical fantasy category. There are fantasy images throughout the pictures such as the dragon in the old country and the giants in the city.
3. This book could help students on both sides of immigration: those that are seeing kids move into the country and the actual immigrants themselves. I think it would be great for the students to analyze and discuss the trials of immigration but the great rewards one can experience as well. Students that are born as Americans can better understand what it means to be an immigrant, and hopefully an immigrant could connect with the protagonist on issues of identity and belonging.
4. This book could be integrated not only into a standard reading lesson to discuss the issues surrounding immigration, but it could be implemented into an art lesson as well. I think it would be awesome if after the teacher presented this book to his or her class, the art teacher used the book as well. He or she could have the students illustrate, through any medium, how they perceive immigration or another issue that they may better relate to.

message 20: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Utin | 12 comments Elaine wrote: "The Arrival: Shaun Tan

1. I would say this book counts as historical fiction because it represents a historical event. In addition, the author has not lived in the time period this book is set in..."

Okay I'm iffy on the hard fiction bit for Witness. The main characters of the book are fictional, but there are characters in it who aren't, ex. Coolidge. But If the majority rules i guess it would be soft historical fiction

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