If You Did Not Catch Dennis Overbye’s Essay, "Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy"
here it is, www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/science/27essa.html This was in the Science Times yesterday and perhaps your attention was distracted by the awards (I don’t know the Sibert honor books, anyone want to tell us about them, we had discussed We Are the Ship here). I found the essay brilliant, and directly relevant to us, because it captures the glory of the kind of thinking all non fiction writers must do — which is, thus, the gift we offer to non fiction readers. Overbye says "science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth." And since science is a process, not any given result, it also requires — and thus can be used to inculcate — values such as "honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, opennes, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view."
That is what I’ve — and so many of you in your comment posts — have been preaching here. Nonfiction is not about having the final right answer, it is about searching for the best answer you can find, while inviting, courting, seeking out, challenges to your views. It is the assertion of your best effort in the secure knowledge that all of your research, intuition, luck, and narrative skill has produced a fraction of truth that is sure to be re-viewed by the next seeker. And thus the great pleasure in nonfiction is not so much storytelling as it is thinking, sharpening wits — engaging kids in that endless process of building knowledge. Storytelling is fine, but it is a means to the end of getting kids into the game, it is not the game itself. If one of the greatest pleasures of fiction is identification, one of the greatest pleasures of nonfiction is discovery.
What is something you recall discovering when reading nonfiction — now, as a student, as a child?