Realistic fiction books provide a window into reality. Non-fiction provides a fun way to see the real world as it really appears. However, realistic fiction gives us an author’s view of the world to teach us a lesson or tell us a story greater than the sum of the facts. Kids and adults alike have a lot to learn from the classics of the genre.
Whether you need a book for yourself or want to fill your shelf with good reading for your children or students, these 5 classics of realistic fiction should provide what you’re looking for.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is a stone-cold classic of realistic fiction for a reason. The tale of empathy and hardship from the perspective of the young girl named Scout became a stellar film and remains mandatory school reading in many places. It tackles sweeping, emotional issues like segregation without over-explaining it with names and dates. Thus, even children come away from Mockingbird understanding more about their world.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The smash-hit Gone Girl made the rounds as a bestseller a few years ago and remains a potent discussion topic. The story of Amy Dunne’s torture of her husband reflects imbalances in our society towards what we view as empathetic, depending on whether the victims are men or women. It is a challenging feminist take on the thriller genre and doesn’t ask you to “agree” with it. It just asks you to pay attention.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Here’s another book for kids, or adults that want to relax. Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet chronicles how Brian became lost in the woods with no hope of recovery. He learns to survive based on multiple uses for a single hatchet, using everything he can to keep going. It’s a tale of endurance and resourcefulness that still resonates. Thus, as Brian learns that his survival depends on his respect for the natural world around him, young kids will learn that too.
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
We’re challenging the definition of “realistic” by including a sci-fi classic but bear with us. Starship Troopers is nowhere near the fantastical bug shootout of the 1997 film. By contrast, the book is actually a controversial, realistic story about military politics. It concerns how societies treat war and how soldiers become a permanent part of it. It therefore remains essential realistic fiction reading to this day.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi will sure to tug at your heartstrings, as well as your mind with its now-infamous third-act reveal. It tells the story of a zookeeper’s son whose mind is filled with animals, three different religious practices, and the unbeatable desire to survive. The pain and power in this story have kept people coming back to it since its 2002 release.
How Do You Choose Between Realistic Fiction Books?
Realistic fiction books number in the thousands, across age groups and genres. Therefore, it was hard enough for us to pick only six! But as for your reading, shop around to figure out which stories connect with you. One of these might be your new favorite.