I am extremely excited to have M.C. Finotti, author of Paintbrushes & Arrows: A Story of Two Girls in St. Augustine in 1875, guest blogging today. Her book is a rare gift. Teachers will love how it weaves real people and events in a heartwarming story.
Thank you, Gay Miller, for the opportunity to write a blog post on your popular TpT webpage!
As the author of two books of historical fiction, I thought it only fitting to write about why I think quality novels of historical fiction are great educational resources.
First and foremost, I think historical fiction puts “people” back into history. Too often, “just plain folks” are hard to find in social studies textbooks. That’s why my new book, “Paintbrushes and Arrows,” is told in part from the point of view of Ah-kah, a real 9-year old Comanche girl who accompanied her parents and other prisoners to Fort Marion in St. Augustine in 1875. The U.S. Army brought her father (a warring chief) to the fort from the Oklahoma Territories because they wanted to “kill the Indian but save the man.” Ah-kah helps us understand what it’s like to be a Native American girl in a small American town in 1875.
This brings me to my second point about historical fiction: it introduces students to a range of issues, warts and all. In “Paintbrushes and Arrows” we learn firsthand about the effect of the Westward expansion on the Native American population and the diaspora that resulted from it. This story is often forgotten when we learn about all the new Midwest and Western states that joined the union in the late 1800’s.
Finally, historical fiction promotes multiple perspectives. I told “Paintbrushes and Arrows” in alternating points of view. The companion main character to Ah-kah is a 15-year old girl, Callie, who was practically born with a paintbrush in her hand. She’s recruited to teach art classes to the Native Americans at the fort. While this may sound paternalistic, there really was an art teacher who worked with the Native Americans at the fort. Callie’s character helps readers understand what life was like for a young, white woman in America in 1875.
I made every effort in “Paintbrushes and Arrows” to follow historical records and to portray my characters – many of whom actually existed – as realistically and without stereotype as possible. Gay Miller’s wonderful book unit on “Paintbrushes and Arrows” reflects this and more. For less than $20, you can buy a copy of my book (Amazon) and a copy of Gay’s book unit (Teachers Pay Teachers), and have months of lessons that meet Common Core standards for literacy. Best of all, your students will be engaged and learn not just about history, but about life!
Win a free Kindle copy of my book. All you have to do is watch a book trailer of the book.
Thank you so much for the fantastic post!
Paintbrushes & Arrows is a wonderful book for teaching both points of view and perspective. Throughout the entire book, odd-numbered chapters are told from Ah-kah’s perspective and even number chapters are told from Callie’s perspective. On top of this, Ah-kah’s chapters are told in the third person point of view and Callie’s chapters are told in the first-person point of view.
Paintbrushes & Arrows Book Unit includes several lessons on point of view. I’ve included two additional free point-of-view activities below to get you started on a point-of-view unit.