Understanding and Evaluating Historical Texts

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13859

Literary nonfiction presents factual information artistically. This lesson will help you understand, analyze, and evaluate these types of texts using important texts from U.S. history.


Comprehension, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What do you envision when you think about historical texts?


Historical documents are important sources of information for verifying and understanding what happened in the past. They make up the historical record.

Sometimes, these documents include court transcripts or official forms like birth and death records.

Sometimes, they are more artistic, expressive, or even personal!

In this lesson, explore a type of historical text that combines important historical details with literary narrative.

Keep reading to find out more!

Literary nonfiction is a type of nonfiction that still aims to present an accurate and informative text. Still, it uses literary devices and techniques in the prose to make that presentation more artistic or narrative.

For an overview of the genre with examples, watch the following video.

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Compare and Contrast

As you read through this lesson, complete the Literary Nonfiction T-Chart found under the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar with the elements you notice that are similar to traditional fiction and nonfiction.

Tone and Theme

Two important elements that you'll be considering in your analysis of these texts are tone, the author's attitude (expressed in the way that they write), and the theme, which is the message the author wants the reader to receive.

Examples of tone words are:

  • friendly
  • warm
  • cautious
  • firm
  • frustrated
  • motherly (fatherly, sisterly, etc.)
  • enthusiastic
  • hopeless
  • encouraging

Examples of themes could include:

  • grappling with mortality
  • examining the hidden costs of war
  • the trials and tribulations of growing up
  • fighting for justice

Read the following historical nonfiction excerpt and answer the questions that follow.

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Continue examining literary nonfiction in the Got It? section.

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