Advice for Life: Determining Important Messages in Historical Fiction Books

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SWBAT theorize author's purpose in historical fiction books.

Big Idea

Students decide what sort of advice or messages books can give them about what's important about life.


5 minutes

In most historical fiction books, one of the most interesting parts of the books is the pivotal moment when the main character makes a decision that changes the path of the story or changes their fate. They often made decisions based on something they learned or discovered in their life. Just like the character, as readers, we can learn from people in our lives and from the characters and moments of the choices characters make.

In this lesson, students will think deeper and pull out important pieces of advice that the reader can use in their own life.

Main Activity

30 minutes

I model how to pull out important messages by using our most recent read aloud A Long Walk to Water. by Linda Sue Park, I think about the big moments for the character and decide how it might be helpful to me. To do this, I ask myself a few questions: Why is the story important? What does the author want me to learn about? What does this book help me understand?

As I mentioned before, this book seems to be mostly about perseverance. When I think back to the character's choices, I remember one time when he couldn't go on. Life was too hard and he almost gave up living. The only thing that helped him continue was remembering what his uncle told him. He told him to just do one step at a time and not to think about how far he has to go. He was able to keep going by making small steps. Maybe in my life, when I have a major project or goal that seems to difficult to accomplish, I can take one step at a time and eventually I'll get there. 

Students are asked to try to find another example from either of the last two read aloud books and give a specific example that can apply to their own lives. Students decide on a few ideas and share it with their partners. 

Finally, students ask themselves these same questions as they apply to their own book club books. They record their thinking in their learning journal.


5 minutes

To close the lesson, students pair up with students who are not in their book club group and share what they have discovered from their books. They share the themes of their books, the characters important choices, and then how they can apply it to their own life.