Historical fiction is a favorite of mine. To introduce it to my students, I chose the book, Buffalo Storm by Kathleen Applegate. She is the well known author of the book, The One and Only Ivan, but she’s also the author of several picture books too. The Buffalo Storm is one of those books. The books cover certainly gives a glimpse of the topic, and most kids would be pulled into the book just by looking at it. If you are teaching Westward Expansion, grab this book to include with your unit.
what is historical fiction all about:
The first step in beginning a unit on historical fiction is to share examples. You might gather an assortment of picture books and let your students compare 2-3 to determine the common traits. Add these traits to a class anchor chart for reference as you move through your lessons. Then, take a moment to read The Buffalo Storm to your kids. Stop and jot additional trait discoveries.
Here is what amazon had to say about the book:
ON A WAGON TRAIL WEST WITH MAMA AND PAPA, A YOUNG GIRL FACES DOWN FEARS OF STORMY WEATHER AND MOVING TO A NEW PLACE THANKS TO THE WISDOM, LOVE, AND GRIT INSTILLED BY HER BELOVED GRANDMOTHER BACK HOME.Amazon Summary
more about the book:
Here’s a glimpse of the opening. I love the use of repetition and how the author chooses to list the character’s feelings right from the beginning.
additional lesson ideas
Historical Fiction Analysis
I love how this book shows a strong relationship between Hallie and her grandmother and how she deals with her fear of storms and moving. You might teach the history behind this book. The author and illustrator beautifully capture the sense of what it would be like on the Oregon Trails through the eyes of Hallie, the main character. Teachers might tie reading this book to research about the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark.
Create RAFT papers with Buffalo Storm as your Mentor Text
Another option for this book is for writing. It would be fun to write a RAFT papers as a post reading activity. RAFT stands for:
- Format=Friendly Letter
- Topic=Description of the Buffalo Storm scene.
If you haven’t done RAFT papers before, the resource linked below might be helpful. It includes an analysis page for historical fiction, a RAFT assignment page, a four square planning page, and a writing page. You can download by signing up for my email list below.
Historical Fiction free Resources:
To save you a little time, I have included a few great freebies for historical fiction you might enjoy using. If you click each of the images, it will take you to the downloads. You can use them with other historical fiction texts in your unit.
best historical fiction picture books for elementary:
- GITTEL’S JOURNEY BY LESLEA NEWMAN
- MARCHING WITH AUNT SUSAN BY CLAIRE RUDOLPH MURPHY
- THAT BOOK WOMAN BY HEATHER HENSON
- BOXES FOR KATJE BY CANDACE FLEMING
- GEORGE WASHINGTON’S TEETH BY DEBORAH CHANDRA
- BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY BY MELISSA SWEET
- TRAIN TO SOMEWHERE BY EVE BUNTING
Other Links You’d Enjoy:
Mentor texts really help our students SEE how skills work with a real text, and we know Think Aloud is a teaching practice that greatly benefits struggling readers. I hope The Buffalo Storm is helpful in your teaching of historical fiction.