Do you like to study history? Sure, all those dates can get confusing, but isn’t it interesting when you really dive down deep into the stories of the people that were involved in important events in the past?
Some kids don’t even realize how much they like history until they see history displayed in a new way. For example, have you ever seen the movie Titanic? Yes, it’s a great movie, but it’s based upon an even more interesting real historic event.
When we look back at the past with the help of books and movies, we have to be careful to be aware of what’s true and what’s made-up. Sometimes this is easy when we’re reading a book we got from the library. All we need to do is figure out whether the book came from the fiction or nonfiction section.
Fiction books are mostly made-up stories. They can certainly have elements of truth in them, but they don’t claim to be a true, factual account of a particular person or event.
Nonfiction books, on the other hand, do claim to be truthful, factual accounts of actual persons and events. Some common types of nonfiction works you may be familiar with include essays, journals, diaries, documentaries, biographies and textbooks.
When it comes to learning about history, we want to be sure to rely as much as possible on works of nonfiction. The more true and accurate facts we can assemble, the better we will be able to understand the people and events of the past.
Some authors try to give us the best of both worlds by writing historical fiction. Historical fiction features characters and events that take place in the past. The people, times and places featured in works of historical fiction are often real.
Many of the scenes in historical fiction may be based almost-entirely upon true, factual accounts of past events. However, authors of historical fiction use these truths as a basis for embellishing their stories with fictional accounts of other events that could or might have occurred.
In this way, authors of historical fiction bring the past to life with stories that are interesting and move with the pace of a modern bestseller, while being grounded — at least partly — in the truths of the past.
If you’re WONDERing why these authors don’t base their stories entirely on factual accounts, one answer is that authors cannot always find accurate, truthful accounts of every historical event that they research. Sometimes there are gaps in the historical records. Authors of historical fiction often fill in these gaps to the best of their ability with scenes that could have happened based upon what they do know about the actual events.