American History Novels for Middle School Students
As a middle school teacher, one of the most effective ways to teach American history is through novels. Novels provide a captivating and engaging way for students to learn about the past. Through believable characters and compelling storylines, students immerse themselves in historical events and gain a deeper understanding of the significance and impact of those events. In this blog post, we will explore some of the top American history novels for middle school students.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
This novel is a powerful and moving portrayal of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. It is an excellent tool to help students understand the struggles and challenges faced by African Americans during this transformative time period. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 centers around the Watson family from Michigan, who decides to travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit their grandmother. During their trip, the family witnesses the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, an event that shakes them to their core. Through the eyes of the Watson family, readers gain a unique perspective on the civil rights movement and the profound impact it had on American history.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a compelling novel that explores themes of racial inequality, injustice, and family resilience during the Great Depression. Set in Mississippi in the 1930s, the novel follows the Logan family, who faces many hardships because of their race. Students will learn about the injustices of the Jim Crow era and how African Americans struggled to fight for their civil rights. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a must-read novel for students interested in learning more about the complexities of American history.
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Johnny Tremain is set during the American Revolution and follows the story of young silversmith Johnny Tremain. The novel explores themes of loyalty, patriotism, and bravery during a tumultuous time in American history. Students will get a firsthand look at the events that led up to the American Revolution, the role of the Sons of Liberty, and the important role young patriots played in securing America’s independence. Through this novel, students will gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by Americans during the Revolutionary War.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The War That Saved My Life is a touching and poignant novel set during World War II. It follows the story of Ada, a young British girl who has spent her entire life locked away in a small apartment due to her mother’s abuse. When the children of London are evacuated to the countryside to escape the bombing, Ada is finally given the chance to escape her abusive life. The novel provides a unique look at the struggles faced by people during World War II and offers an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the importance of bravery and resilience in times of war.
In conclusion, using novels to teach American history is an excellent way to make the subject more engaging and accessible for students at the middle school level. The above-listed novels are just a few examples of the exceptional literature available to help students gain a deeper insight into the events that shaped our country. Whether your students are interested in the civil rights movement, the American Revolution, or World War II, you will surely find a novel that speaks to their interests and helps them connect with the past.