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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

The Email Brings News Good and Bad


Deb Hanson sends this wonderful news about the Guys Read club she created in Florida:

Guys Read club news: "some of the Guys Read boys are going to be mentoring 2nd grade boys in reading starting in January. Several of them are very excited about being asked to mentor the little ones. Others are helping me write and create 30- and 60-second PSAs (short podcasts that we will put on the web and show on our school TV shows) promoting reading and literacy with the target audiences being elementary and middle school students." 
    Here are the details: "23 of our middle school boys have committed to be reading mentors to our 2nd grade boys beginning in January. I asked a couple of them why they wanted to be mentors, and here’s what they said: 
"I remember not being very good at reading when I was little, and I want to help them out." – Jimmy
"I like reading, and I want them to like it too." – Marlon  Another eight boys have committed to creating reading  and literacy PSA’s." 
If you all recall this is a book club that began with boys selected by their teachers as the worst readers in their middle grade classes.

A librarian friend out in California sent me an exchange of posts from their listserv with this theme: "I only purchased nonfiction for the specific topics being researched by classes this year.  The rest of my money went to fiction." Once again — NF is equated with curriculum support, and thus (as other posts in that thread explicitly stated) databases. The rest of the library budgets — all of the pure "reading" budget — went to fiction. 

So there you have it friends — an innovative group turns non-readers into readers by focusing entirely on non-fiction, while beleagured librarians in an entire state contemplate treating NF as a form of deathly cod liver oil. Our challenge is to spread the word of the accomplishments like the Guys Reader club and enter into a conversation with those embattled librarians who misread, misunderstand, and undervalue NF.


  1. Given the bad news above, this might be of interest to those who read your blog, Marc, either for reading the issue, or in the case of the 2nd theme, submitting an article:
    The editors of The Reading Teacher, Robert B. Cooter, Jr., and J. Helen Perkins, are welcoming manuscripts for two themed issues to be published in 2010. The first issue, scheduled for early 2010, will focus on the
    theme “Urban Literacy: Research-Based Solutions for City Kids.” The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2009. The second issue, scheduled for fall 2010, will be on the topic “Reading in Grades 4-6: Focus on Expository Reading.” The deadline for submissions for this issue is February 1, 2010.