Historical Fiction Novel


Jacob Have I Loved

Bibliographic information:

Paterson, K. (1980). Jacob have I Loved. New York:Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited

Plot description:

It all begins at birth of two twin sisters. Immediately after the rivalry began. Louise also known as “Wheeze”was the first born however the spotlight was stolen in her mind when her sister Caroline was born. As they grew up and had piano lessons again Caroline  showed some talent but soon she showed a “gift” of her voice. Louise took on the role of a “son” at age 6 to help her father gather crab on the island of Rass in Chesapeake Bay even though she wasn’t allowed to be aboard the crab boat. Over the years Louise’s feelings of not having not only her own value or identity only intensified. World War II is going on during this story as well as The Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Louise throughout this book is on her own path to seek out affirmation and her place outside of the shadow of her sister.

Quantitative Reading Level:

Lexile: 880L

Suggested Age Range: 13 – 17

Qualitative Reading Analysis:


Straight forward format for a novel no chapter titles and twenty chapters.

Language demands:

Challenging vocabulary:

  • semblance
  • lugubriously
  • petulant
  • remonstrance


Knowledge demands:

The time period of Pearl Harbor, small island living, The Great Depression, events that occurred during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Methodist and Catholicism religions.


Author Katherine Paterson has captured the feelings of the sibling who has felt out of place, unwanted and unimportant since birth. Louise is berated and referenced from the bible by her grandmother (who is most likely declining mentally) “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” only adds to her feeling as the lesser sibling.

 This title matches the quantitative level suggested reading level as younger readers may not get the subtle reference of the attraction Louise has for the Captain.

Content Area:

Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

Curriculum suggestions:

A classic award winning novel to display the perception of sibling rivalry between twin sisters can be used in a Language Arts/ English Classroom. Along with activities that include the time period of World War II and The Great Depression as well as the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Links to supporting digital content:

Sibling Rivalry- http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/unitplan/unitplan.asp?ID=3001

Saddleback Educational Publishing-Focus on Learning- http://www.sdlback.com/content/sa1117e.pdf


Historical Fiction


Sibling rivalry (twins), Identity, Self-discovery, Self-worth.


Newbery Medal (1981)

School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Booklist Editors’ Choice

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (1982)

National Book Award Finalist for Children’s Books, Fiction (Hardcover) (1981) & (Paperback) (1982)




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s