Friends, Readers, Lovers of Nonfiction, Lend Me Your Eyes
Your emails have given me a hint that the bias against nonfiction is much more pervasive than I’d ever realized. So I would like all of you to do a bit of investigative journalism. Two of you have said that in libraries you use, new fiction is on display in the front of the library, and new nonfiction in the back. Is that true in your library? Is it true all of the time, some of the time, most of the time? Many people have told me that the vacation break or summer reading lists at their schools and or libraries contain only fiction. Is that true at your school and or library? After you’ve checked these to cases — displays and lists — let us know, is there any other indirect way in which your school or library expresses a preference for one genre over another?
Now if you are the school librarian and you feel there is a logic, a reason, for why, say, fiction should be featured in displays or reading lists, make that case. There may in fact be a compelling argument — but I would like to have that stated, as a contention, a point of view, so we can discuss it.
In fact let me start, let’s open up the issues that lurk behind those displays and lists: they reflect two beliefs, 1) kids prefer fiction to nonfiction 2) fiction is "better" as literature, it offers a higher quality of reading experience that can stretch readers.
So, is this true? Do kids prefer fiction? Which kids? What ages? Boys and Girls? Is fiction "better" than nonfiction? How so? In which ways?
I am not baiting you into an argument — I really think we should air our thoughts on these questions, I’d like to learn from you.
FYI — I won’t be at Midwinter this year, but can someone who does go tell us how the kids’ dicussions at BBYA on Sunday go — always a favorite moment for me.