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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

For Example

Always Nice When Our Discussions are Echoed in the Press We’ve been talking here about music in history and about historical interpretation. Well what should my morning Times bring me but an article about a NOVA show tonight that features Dr. Oliver Sacks and his case studies of music and the brain, and this Science […]

Opening Up

What Design Does in NonFiction I am working with the editors of the Horn Book on a book about literature for young readers — aimed at parents, teachers, librarians (the gatekeepers who select, buy, and worry about the books kids read). One of the editors asked me for suggestions for a nonfiction spread to use […]

The Museum of Sound

Did You See the Articles about the 35,000 Year Old Flute Found in Germany? Here it is — and you can even hear music played on a wooden replica of the bone flute: Of course while we can reasonably estimate how a person blew into the bone, and we can see where the player put […]

What Can We Say to Teenagers About Iran?

All Day While Working On My Own Projects, I Keep Checking for News from Iran, Don’t You? We have had the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, and while this is in some ways the Green protest (the leaders are careful to say it is not a revolution) in […]

Signs of Change

Did You Catch the Essay on How Teenagers No Longer Like Holden? If not, here it is: Stranglely enough, in looking for that article online, I found this essay by the Washington Post book reviewer Jonathan Yardly that disliked the book on adult re-reading, and for somewhat similar reasons as those expressed by the teenagers […]

Inspired By susan — One More Round on Interpretation

If You Make the Analogy to English, This Gets Easier In schools throughout this country, kids read novels and then discuss them. The teacher, who has, one assumes, taken literature in college, is thus able to guide a discussion of plot, character, point of view, setting, detail, themes — all of those standbyes. When she […]

Truth, Interpretation, and the Goals of Nonfiction

What Are We Doing Calling Our Writing Nonfiction If We Know It is Not the Full Truth? I’ve been thinking about that issue of interpretation and truth, and then a couple of new adult books helped me to clarify what I am trying to say. Wendy Doniger is an extremely accomplished scholar of both the […]

News and Notes From You

ALA: Here is the information about the nonfiction bookblast and the wiki:   Sunday, July 12, 2009, 10:30 a.m.-noon ALA Annual Conference, Chicago Wiki at Here is a question — problem — concern about graphic novel biographies from Marc Tyler Nobleman that some of you may want to discuss:   "I recently became aware that some […]


The Opportunities In a Panic A few posts ago I mentioned my wife’s visit to the Mercantile Library — the new Center for Fiction — and the touch of optimism it brought to both of us. To frame what I am about to say, let me tell you about tomorrow. I am going to yet […]

Facts On the Ground

Can It Really Be True That Some Elementary School Teachers Have Trouble With Historical Interpretation? Betsy Partridge wrote in yesterday, incredulous at that statement. And when I started this blog and made similar statements, Monica — speaking for other teachers — also disagreed. But I have to tell you that since I made that speculative […]