How About You? What Did 3.6 Mean to You?
For years I have been hearing that teachers in elementary school ignored nonfiction, and I experienced that when my older son was in first grade. And yet that Read Research article still shocks and upsets me. How can we complain that boys don’t read, how can we lament our children’s lack of knowledge about math, science, the world, how can we shake our heads about our test scores compared to other nations — how can we express all of these deep concerns about our school systems — and ignore this most obvious gap? If in the early years, the grades where kids get used to school, to reading, to assignments, their teachers avoid nonfiction books like the plague, of course our children will not know how to read them, use them, appreciate them, turn to them for ideas, pleasure, as well as answers.
I would think that these questions have special importance for school librarians — you have nonfiction on your shelves, you have kids who would like to read those books, and yet — the studies I cited the other day show — teachers are not featuring those books in class. Have you run into this problem? How have you handled it? What can an alert school librarians do to make up for what is not going on in class? When I went to the Deerfield library I was thrilled to see how they used displays to feature nonfiction (not my books, not the "here are some books by our visiting author" display that goes up and comes down). The display was about Alaska, the Klondike Gold Rush, the Iditerod — and I heard that they were having trouble maintaining it, because so many kids were asking to take out the books. So what experience have you had with displays, book talks, games to engage kids with nonfiction, even if teachers do not?
Can we come up with a list of "best practices" to share?