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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Learning By Doing Is Great — But What Is “Doing?”

In preparing for my Rutgers class I have been rereading Kieran Egan’s The Educated Mind  I like the book because it sets children’s literature within an understanding of the stages of a child’s cognitive development. As Egan explains it, John Dewey thought children needed to begin learning with the practical, the immediate, the world […]

How Much Is a Really Good Teacher Worth?

Today’s Times offers an answer: $320,000 a year: A new and apparently quite careful study of the impact of excellent kindergarten teachers on the feature earnings potential of those very young students, shows that a very good teacher will add over $300,000 in future earnings to those tykes. Apparently previous studies of the impact […]

The Stickiness of Digital Memory

In my last blog I wrote about my ten-year-old son. I don’t think anything I said was too embarassing (he did not like my rating of his baseball skills as “pretty good, but not great” and perhaps I shouldn’t have let him read that). But as this article in the Times  makes clear, the question […]


My 10-year-old son has just finished a second summer of Travel Team baseball –an experience we are all still sorting out. I played endless baseball (basketball, touch football) games when I was his age, but none of it was organized. We all met in the park and played. In fact when I was growing up […]

Standard Time

Did you all see the news about how quickly states are adopting the new national educational standards: This could be quite significant for those of us who write, edit, and review nonfiction — but in a variety of ways. The shift away from state to national standards is good for us in that if gives […]


This weekend a regional SCBWI conference invited me to speak about nonfiction. It was a lively gathering at a beautiful retreat near Baltimore — driving there was very strange, because in my experience in the New York, New Jersey, lower New England area you only see barns, silos, planted hills in areas that are very […]

The Art of the Index

Years ago I took a class in publishing, and we had a guest lecturer: a professional indexer. It was a fascinating class, because he helped us to see the real craft that goes into making an index — any index. First off, the index needs to suit the book — a nonfiction chapter book that […]


Starting this fall, I will be teaching in the Masters program at the Rutgers Library and Information Science program. In fall, just one class — materials for children; in spring both children and teenagers. At the same time I will be working with Rutgers to try to create a lab where we figure out good […]


I am reading a wonderful adult biography, Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity by Neal Gabler, It is thorough, smart, well-written — a foundational book. That is, if you want to know about America from the 20s through the 50s, you must read this book — it defines a piece of that historical puzzle. […]

Some New thoughts on Role Models and Children’s Books

I just read this line in Ruth Rosen’s The World Split Open, a woman is speaking about what it was like to grow up in the 1950s:  “as we grew older we saw our mothers — our role mdoels, the women we were to become — thwarted in their efforts towards self-realization and expression.”  For a daughter […]