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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Step Behind Step Ahead

I’m Late in Getting ALA Results, so Congrats In General, Specifics to Follow, But

I did hear over the weekend that YALSA is awarding a grant to Amy Allesio (with my help) to study what teenagers read for pleasure. We were thrilled — because so little is known about this. Amy has crafted a wide network of librarians who will survey teenagers about what kinds of nonfiction they read for pleasure. We are not asking whether they read, or read nonfiction, or read for pleasure. All of those kinds of questions run into the danger that a teenager may already associate reading, "literature," "pleasure reading" with fiction. So we will list options such as how-to, hobbies, magazines, sports, game-instructions, to prime the pump. Of course this offers the second danger that respondants will be more likely to check off what they see than to write in a category they don’t. So this initial sounding is imperfect. But it will give librarians a beginning tool for framing nonfiction pleasure reading as part of their collection development — which can then be enhanced, deepened, focused, in later studies. 

This is the second year in a row that YALSA has shown its awareness of and interest in nonfiction, and that is terrific. The expansion of YA to graphic novels and many genres of fiction has been a real feature for the past 5-10 years. Now, it seems, nonfiction will also take its rightful place in adults’s understanding of the normal world of teenage reading.