Historical fiction is one way to instill a love of history in young children. While the History Channel seems to have taken over this function, the wonders of reading and the kindling of the imagination have a power that can never be totally replaced by other media.
Although I didn't become a specialist in American history, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, along with The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare brought the period of early American history to life for me. I loved both of these Newbery award winners and I am sure that along with many other books of historical fiction meant for young readers fed the love of history that has made me into the historian I am today. While I study early modern Europe, the memory of these books stay with me and the scene where Johnny accidently pours molten silver on his hand in Paul Revere's workshop and can never be a silversmith is as fresh today as it was when I first read it almost 50 years ago.