Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Looking for the History in Historical Fiction: An Epidemic for Reading

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Looking for the History in Historical Fiction: An Epidemic for Reading

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Students brainstorm what they know about communicable disease and epidemics. They are then introduced to historical fiction and select a historical fiction novel to read from a booklist. They use a set of guiding questions to prompt critical thinking as they read. After they finish the novel, students use nonfiction books and Websites to gather facts about the infectious disease, illness, or epidemic discussed in their piece of historical fiction. Students then find examples of both verifiable fact and fiction in the historical fiction novels they read and write a reflection paper. Finally, students complete a project of their choice from a list of possible projects, including literary analysis, plot analysis, research about disease outbreaks, a disease prevention poster, and more.

back to top



Infectious Diseases, Illness, and Epidemics in Historical Fiction: This book list includes historical fiction that includes diseases, illness, or epidemics.

Questions to Consider While Reading Historical Fiction: These guiding  questions are useful for promoting critical thinking when reading any historical fiction.

back to top



Throughout time, disease has played a role in the lives and deaths of people. During the 1800s, there were a variety of diseases that found their way to this soil. Once here, diseases such as cholera spread across the lands wiping out 50% of the Northern Cheyenne and killing many others along the wagon trails. Students could read facts like these in a textbook or in a nonfiction book. But, infectious diseases, illnesses, and epidemics can also be found throughout historical fiction. As Beck et al. state, "Teachers know that these novels focus a rich, human lens on a sometimes abstract topic. The stories and the lives of historical characters help readers see the details of everyday life that are not incorporated into textbooks." Historical fiction presents a new perspective to the students.

Further Reading

Beck, Cathy, et al. "Historical Fiction: Teaching Tool or Literary Experience?" Language Arts 77.6 (July 2000): 546-555.

back to top