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Lesson Plan

Using Historical Fiction to Learn About the Civil War

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Using Historical Fiction to Learn About the Civil War

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Ten 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Marguerite A. Murphy

Akron, Ohio


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This lesson uses the book Meet Addy by Connie Porter to teach the characteristics of historical fiction, making inferences and using visualization, and Civil War history. The book tells the story of a young girl who escapes from slavery during the war. Students learn how to visualize and infer events from the author's choice of words and then refine their comprehension by questioning the text together.

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  • Civil War Booklist: This booklist provides examples of books to use with any Civil War unit.


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Hibbing, A., & Rankin-Erickson, J.L. (2003). A picture is worth a thousand words: Using visual images to improve comprehension for middle school readers. The Reading Teacher, 56(8), 758–770.

  • Illustrations can help with comprehension by prompting image making to combine the verbal and nonverbal representations.

  • With struggling readers, picture books can be an effective tool to build the background knowledge needed for understanding the information they are reading. The illustrations serve to create or confirm understanding.



Richards, J.C., & Anderson, N.A. (2003). How Do You Know? A strategy to help emergent readers make inferences. The Reading Teacher, 57(3), 290-293.

  • Inferencing is the strategic process of generating assumptions, making predictions, and coming to conclusions based upon information given in text and in illustrations.

  • The How Do You Know? strategy is a think-aloud questioning strategy used during a read-aloud. It involves stopping the reading to ask students a question that prompts them to infer important information.

  • Using the think-aloud questioning strategy, teachers can gradually shift the responsibility for identifying inferential connections to the student.

  • These types of questions provide opportunities for students to interact with their peers through group discussions and to engage in a reading and writing connection.

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