Her thoughts —How History and Literature compliment each other

Published 12:00 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

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When I worked as a substitute teacher, I learned about cross curriculum instruction in which you combine two subjects and teach on a particular topic. For instance, if you are teaching reading and the story being read is about Paul Revere, you can enhance students’ reading skills and critical thinking while at the same time they are discovering the bravery of a great patriot in American History. It’s an interesting and innovative way to teach.

As with my experience of reading historical romantic fiction novels over the last 20 years, I have realized that history and literature compliment each other. There are several writers who write about the Amish. I’m thinking of Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter and Linda Byler, among others. With each, I get a great read and learn so much about the Amish culture, history, way of life and religious beliefs, all of which has been accurately researched. Some of the authors have a connection to the Amish community because their parents were raised Amish and in the case of Linda Byler, she grew up Amish and is still active in the church community. With Linda, you don’t have to question whether her books are authentic. Of course, even if some of the characters are not based on real people, the cultural and historical background makes the story come to life.

In addition, from reading Amish fiction I have learned that some large districts that have many churches determine how many ministers will serve the congregations. The language of the Amish is a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch. In fact, there are Amish communities in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana as well as Pennsylvania. Also, as some of you may know, Charlotte County has an Amish community.

As a result, I have gained a knowledge of numerous Pennsylvania Dutch words; i. e. denki means welcome and dawdi haus means grandfather house. Subsequently, with historical events as a backdrop for many novels, accuracy is paramount. There are instances where I’ll look up something to confirm how truthful it is, which never disappoints my curiosity. Many times an author will share details in the author’s note at the back of a book which will let you know if they had to take liberties with a character or real event to propel the story along.

In conclusion, when novels are written with a cultural and historical basis, the reader receives insight into a character’s experiences and the significance of the time period. How history and literature compliment each other is revealed in the accuracy of the researched material and how it is used to set the stage for the characters’ journey as well as the reader. I can’t wait until my next read. But first, I must complete the ones I’m reading now.

Judy Moore is a tour guide at The Central High Museum, lives in Wylliesburg and can be reached at v5agabond2@gmail.com.