Thursday, July 15, 2010

Learning History Through Story

WOODS RUNNER and STORYTELLER are two very different books that have compelling similarities. Both are set during the American Revolution, and both have young main characters whose families are torn apart by the war and who must overcome extraordinary odds in order to bring their families back together.

Between many of the chapters of WOODS RUNNER, Gary Paulsen weaves short chunks of nonfiction about a variety of Revolutionary War topics that pertain to the story -- frontier life, the weapons used in the war, who fought for each side and why and how, the roles of the civilians, the treatment of prisoners, and more.

Patricia Reilly Giff weaves the stories of two girls -- Elizabeth in modern times, and her ancestor Zee in Revolutionary War times. As Elizabeth learns more about her ancestor and about the war, she learns to value herself and her family.

Neither of these books gives their readers a complete and encyclopedic knowledge of the entire Revolutionary War, but they both do what a text book cannot do for a beginning historian age 9-14 -- they invite the reader into the period through story and help the reader to understand at a human level how war changes lives in immediate and long-lasting ways.

Woods Runner
by Gary Paulsen
Wendy Lamb Books, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

Other reviews:

by Patricia Reilly Giff
Wendy Lamb Books, 2010
on shelves in September, read in ARC received at ALA

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