Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Video and What It Means to Us

Loree and Vicki Have Got Me Thinking

Some years ago all the buzz in adult publishing was about synergy — Tina Brown created Talk/Miramax so that magazines, books, and movies would all be criss-crossed, created together. Random House famously said they were about information across all platforms — so that print or download or song were just iterations and one company could happily produce them all. AOL linked up with Time/Warner so that from email through book club would be one grand continuity. None of those ombinations quite worked out as the CEOs hoped, in fact they either collapsed or are trying to figure out how to break up. But I think we in kids nonfiction need to do some of our own cross-media big thinking.
       I am thinking of film. Vicki has smartly found a way to encourage kids to make their own simple films and to send them to her site, as an enhancement of her science experiment books. Instead of the old author letter, "I loved your book, how did you get started writing" we can now encourage kids to use all of their media skills to engage with a respond to a text. (I know there are rules about emails from underage kids, but surely — as in Vicki’s case — there are ways to establish groundrules for adult involvement). Loree’s website features photos of her research journeys — allowing teachers and students in to her process of discovery. Student creativity — Vicki — insight into the author’s work — Loree — these are great starts that we all may want to emulate. But what about going a next step?
       I like going to conferences, meeting people, signing books, catching up with friends. But in the days of video conferencing, why pay the airlines, pollute the sky, ask our publishers to shell out too much for taxis and very OK meals? Why couldn’t we plan great conferences with speakers from all over the country, indeed the whole wide world, beamed in electronically? OK so the signing wouldn’t work, but think of how exciting our conferences could be if, say, one of us spoke from an archaeological site, or just outside a library where we made an exciting discovery, or even from our homes — where we could share a work truly in progress? And then, the teachers, or librarians, or parents — the attendees — could get the conference talk as files to take with them to their schools and classes.

Friends, writing is what we do, but our work need not be confined by the page — lets free ourselves through film — and beyond.