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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

From Dr. Myra Zarnowski

Myra is Head of the Elementary Ed. Dept at Queens College, and the Author of Making Sense of History

Here she is commenting on Mary Ann’s post about trade books and teachers, which I forwarded to her:

"The post you sent me describes a world I also live in. Because we professors want to impact practice, we need to be realistic about what we are asking of our students. If we ask too much, they stop listening to us and truly believe we are out of touch. If we ask too little, we fail to stimulate them to try new things. I really like Candace Fleming’s book on Lincoln, but not every teacher will be able to use it. And, where does it fit in the "curriculum"? So…how do we work through this dilemma? One thing I do is I have been able to get funds to purchase books to lend to my students. That way they are not purchasing books they cannot use after the course. However, that doesn’t answer the question of whether the book will be used in schools, and if so, how? I used an advance copy with 4th graders, so I believe it is not too difficult for middle school.
I could go on and on about this post. The sender has identified important issues."

I see this problem — trade books are wonderful, but what if teachers cannot afford them, and don’t know how to use them — as crucial. We need to make links between authors and teachers. Authors (or at least their editors and publishers) need to know what teachers need such that they can use new books. Teachers (or at least those who train them) need to be in touch with authors who are crafted new books. Right now those contacts are pure happenstance. That is no way to run an industry.