When a fellow children’s author asked for a book set in ancient Rome and no one could recommend anything suitable, I began to think about periods and places that are underrepresented in historical fiction for kids. A few that immediately come to mind include:
Ancient Rome, Greece, and Persia. (Especially Persia. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a children’s book about that.)
The Americas before 1492.
Africa, in any time period.
China, in any time period.
The 1960’s and 1970’s (the Vietnam era)
I do think that more Vietnam-era books will be published as we move away from that time and begin to think of it more as history than as living memory. The other places and eras, I’m not as confident about—but they need to be there. China, for example, is a nation that’s quickly becoming a major world player, and a place that young readers definitely need to be introduced to. While the region’s ancient culture could make a great base for historical fiction, there just isn’t much out there.
But would books about these yet-unknown places ever sell? I think they would. As our world becomes increasingly global, schools are focusing more and more on teaching about all regions of the world, not just Western Europe. If you could write a high-quality book about Africa or Asia, I’ll bet teachers and librarians would buy it.
So what areas do you feel are underrepresented in children’s and YA historical fiction? Is there a market for such books?
Melissa L. is the YA Editorial Assistant for Wonders and Marvels. You can read more about her here: Editorial Staff.