July 27, 2017

There Needs To Be More YA Historical Fiction

I'm a history minor (as I've told y'all many times), and I love, love, love YA historical fiction. I love that it's set in our world, so the world-building isn't as vast, but that it's set in another place and time and there can still be fantastical elements to it (like in the cases of Grave Mercy and Walk on Earth a Stranger).

It's perfect for authors who love research and/or who are fascinated with a particular time period or figure in history. It's perfect for teenage readers who want something a bit livelier than their history textbooks - and also perhaps something that doesn't tell the whitewashed version of history so many textbooks feature. (How many us of didn't know about the awesome black women who helped put man on the moon 'til Hidden Figures?)

I love YA historical fiction so much, I created lists for all the 2018 and 2019 releases. But making these lists (and voting on those for 2016 and 2017) has brought something to light that makes me sad.

There aren't enough YA historical fiction titles.

If the lists are accurate, 2016 got 54, 2017 is getting 33, and so far there's only 20 announced for 2018. I know this is a very first world problem to have, but I'm going to complain anyway.

I want more historical fiction, particularly not about World War II or even World War I. I want more historical fiction set at other royal courts besides Henry VIII's and Elizabeth I's. I want more historical fiction written by POC authors. I want more historical fiction set across the centuries; I know the sources are sparser past, like, the 1600s, but that means it's just easier to make things up.

I want authors to write stories that make teenage readers more excited about history. We're supposed to be very forward-looking in America, but if we don't study our past, we will repeat our mistakes. I want stories that showcase the women and African-Americans and Asian-Americans and Latinxs and Middle Eastern people of history. I want books about events in history I had no idea about.

After all, history is a story. A true one. So what could be better to inspire a book?

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