Teaching with the Library of Congress has a post about using Walt Whitman’s diaries in the classroom, and they make a great suggestion about using literature to make connections to social studies:
Team with a social studies teacher to develop a list of writers and specific literary selections (this works with novels or short stories as well as poems) that can be connected to historical events and eras.
Using literature is a terrific way to make the connection to history more personal — seeing how someone else responded to the times in which they lived gives context to the facts and conjectures of history can generate questions about both the author and the milieu. For example, how would students of 19th century imperial India analyze Rudyard Kipling? Or examine how Jorge Luis Borges’ writing illuminates 20th century Argentinian politics? How does Toni Morrison address the scars left by slavery? The possibilities are limitless.
Start with reading the chapter overview that explains the basic facts of the historical era, then read the author’s notable people biography and chronology entries from their time. What else was going on during their lives that may have influenced their writing?