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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters


How Much Do We Really Know About NF and Reading?

Did you all see this comment to my last blog: "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."

I copied it here to make sure as many eyes as possible find it. Because one of the challenges we face with NF is that it gets lost in the shuffle. Literacy, reading scores, that gets the headlines — politicians rise and fall, home prices soar and crash — all on the curve of reading scores. Content slips behind comprehension. But the kinds of studies requested here give us a chance to play the game by the existing rules — you want more kids to do well in reading? Offer them more kinds of things to read. As Deb has shown that simple step can have spectacular results. But we need someone to hunt down the case studies, the research, and draft the articles. 

Here’s another question I wish someone would research: how do teachers find out about trade NF — books their kids might enjoy reading, or which present new points of view, or which serve as models for their own research? The snarky answer is, "they don’t." But that is too easy. I would really like a careful, detailed survey showing the sources of book information for teachers, by grade, in several districts. How many seek out librarians, how many librarians seek out the teachers, how many rely on advice from other teachers, how many use lists such as NCSS-CBC Notables. This is an information circuit (or broken circuit) that we all live with, and yet I have never seen studied in any rigorous way. How ’bout it — SLJers, somone seek and find.