Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Building the Perfect Nonfiction Blog/Site

Recently I taught a course at National Louis University on social media as it pertains to various aspects of literature for kids and teens (I believe the official name of the course was “Social Media and P-12 Youth Literature”).  Never having taught before, I was a bit nervous.  Fortunately my students, a group of savvy teachers and librarians, made for a great group.  In our last face-to-face class we discussed nonfiction blogs, websites, and other resources that offer children’s book tie-ins.  In doing so we stumbled on the perpetual problem of finding the ideal nonfiction book website for use by educators.

It all got me to thinking.  What would the perfect nonfiction online site even look like?  Whether a blog or a website, surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to make one.  So we brainstormed the ideal one-stop-shopping location for folks pining for a website that has it all.

Today, I present that brainstorming to you.  For anyone out there who has too much time on their hands and a yen for nonfiction, here are the official suggestions for . . .

The Perfect Nonfiction Online Site

For Use by Teachers/Librarians/Parents

 

Must Have Aspects:

  • Includes brief reviews of great nonfiction titles that highlight key aspects of a nonfiction text. One of many reasons I wouldn’t be a good creator of such a site.  If you’ve read my reviews then you know that they revel in loquaciousness.  Fun for me, but impractical for teachers who don’t have time to linger on every single book on the site.  Longer reviews could potentially have a home on the site but these would have to be accompanied by bullet points that summarize the main points and discuss the quality of the text.  Long story short, teachers don’t have time for wordy reviews.
  • Good search capabilities (tagging, organizes posts by grade level/topic, etc.).  Lots of lovely reviews won’t do you much good if you can’t find them when you need them, after all.  This site would be best if it could enable teachers to find nonfiction resources quickly.
  • What standards does each book cover?  This is a reference to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which is of particular use to those teachers and librarians working in a public school setting.  Any site that contained this information for each book would be doing the world a service.  Some books come pre-loaded with this information.  For others, it would have to be conjured up from scratch.
  • Is specific about how each book could be used in the classroom. This ties into the previous note about CCSS.  Crafts, activities, video tie-ins, credible online sources, and even readalikes would be great additional information to provide with each book.
  • Text sets. The best way I can describe this one is to direct your attention to the book sets created by MyLibraryNYC.  See how they’ve grouped books together by subject and grade level?  This site would provide similar information.  I wouldn’t mind if a coupled also linked to fictional titles with nonfiction tie-ins to one subject area or another.
  • Personal experiences in using each book with kids. Okay, this one’s key.  Imagine if each book came with a section where teachers and librarians and homeschooling parents could include tips and stories on their successes of failures with individual books.  A testimonials area, as it were.  This could even cover the readability of each book. How is the content? Is it too high level for one grade level or another?
  • Links to educator guides.  Why do too much work when much of it already exists out there for public consumption?

You are now beginning to see why such a site as this does not yet exist (not for free, anyway).  The amount of work each title would require would be ginormous. Then again, think about what would happen if public teachers knew about this site.  It would be their most useful curricular resource.

Someday.

 

Share
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth, much of what you suggest here seems like it needs to be a crowd-sourced database (educator guides, personal experiences), and to be comprehensive enough to be useful, it would take more than a single person to put it together. Some pieces exist in certain places (like goodreads, edelweiss, or on publishers’ and authors’ websites), but again, you really have to search for it.

    What would work well is a central database or wiki (like IMDB – but for Non-Fiction -maybe NFDB?). I’ve suggested in the past to Dylan Teut (https://readingwithmrteut.wordpress.com/) that he curate a Picture Book Database. Although I’ve never written one, code is out there (for free, I think) to create your own WikiDatabase, so maybe this isn’t as far-fetched (someday-ish) as we think.

    As for who will administer said database, I am not volunteering. But if there’s someone out there with a passion for Non-Fiction and wants to get their feet wet writing some software … maybe that could happen someday … soon?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      That makes a lot of sense to me. What we need is someone with the passion, knowledge, and gobs of free time to coordinate. Crowd-sourced, as you say, would make a lot of sense.

  2. The Classroom Bookshelf blog, which is maintained by four Lesley University professors of children’s literature, comes pretty darn close to meeting all your criteria. It focus on fiction as well as nonfiction titles. http://classroombookshelf.blogspot.com/ I encourage educators to check it out.

  3. Thanks for the excellent suggestion, Elizabeth. I was just saying to my writer friends that there needs to be a way to get the word out about STEM middle grade and YA books. There are some fabulous ones out there. I am excited about the prospect of doing this and may look into gathering a bunch of writers together to create something like this. Thanks for the blueprint!

  4. Bridget Rieth says:

    From your mouth (keyboard) to God’s ear.

  5. Maybe this will be my summer vacation project.

    On top of all my other summer vacation projects.

  6. The Nonfiction Detectives ( http://www.nonfictiondetectives.com ) do a really nice job of highlighting nonfic for children. I read/use their website regularly.