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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters


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 models for how youth service libraries should use the new ebook and other digital tools. I will continue to write and edit books, give talks, write this blog. But teaching will become an ever-larger focus. Why? Well I like both the research and the exchange that goes into teaching. Whenever I visit a school someone will ask, “do you teach?” So in one way I am getting to exercise a muscle that I’ve always known I had, but have not trained. In another, being planted in an academic environment seems right to me just now when so much change in publishing is being mandated by technology. I don’t like the sense that devices are determining — or at least strongly influencing — decisions on content. I want to create a place outside of the hustle and bustle of the moment where every stakeholder — teachers, librarians, authors, publishers, educational technologists, game creators — can create models for how best to use the new options, and then test them with real young people. That seems like the responsible thing to do right now — step aside and make sense of this moment, rather than just be swamped by it, or rushing to profit from it.

So that’s the plan. Right now, preparing for class I am catching up on my reading. Any suggestions? Favorite books you think librarians who work with young people really need to know about?


  1. Laura Campagna says:

    The Rock and the River was a wonderful Young Adult work of fiction, about the son of a civil rights worker, torn between the civil disobedience practices of his father, and the Black Panther Movement.

  2. Re: “I don’t like the sense that devices are determining — or at least strongly influencing — decisions on content.”

    Return to Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message.

  3. Shirley Budhos says:

    An honorable profession which keeps idealists, abstract thinkers on their feet and on the ground. Classroom dialogues, “the lights going on in students’ heads,” disagreements are more memorable than end-of-the -year bonuses. Though teachers receive no tangible rewards, we gain lifelong connections and memories. Welcome! I’ve always been proud to reveal that I taught–despite the low salaries, poor working conditions, and mediocre administrators, and I’m not mentioning the outdated books and teaching materials.The secret is that we close the classroom door and create and connect! It’s still the best game in town!

  4. Marc Aronson says:

    yes and no — medium makes some messages easier, more dominant, more popular. But we don’t need to be defined that way. Technology is for our use — we should set the terms. Of course we need to be alert and open to new possibilities. But remember that tech companies keep making new stuff so that they can sell new stuff. That does not make newer better. We the creators and users must shape the flood of stuff.

  5. Marc Aronson says:

    great, now I just have to prepare the classes

  6. Marc Aronson says:

    so I have heard, it is on my list

  7. Amy Mitchell says:

    Deborah Wiles’ books. Love, Ruby Lavender and Each Little Bird That Sings are great works of fiction dealing with loss for ages 8-12.

  8. I love the comment that disagreements are more valuable than end of the year bonuses
    ( although I will not share that thought with my principal ). I also love it when a student says ” I don’t know what I think anymore ” . One time I quoted Ho Chi Min’s answer to a question about how the French Revolution had impacted Vietnamese history. His answer:
    ” it is too soon to tell “. A student looked up and said seriously ” what is that suposed to mean ? ” That was a good day.

  9. For picture eBooks, you might check out – they have a growing selection and the books are recordable.

    For your own reading, I have a ton of suggestions but I’ll try to be brief.
    Graphic novels – Rapunzel’s Revenge – simply the BEST I’ve ever read.
    Percy Jackson books
    Tortilla Sun by J. Cervantes
    Return to Sender by J. Alvarez
    Young Merlin series – T.A. Barron
    Garth Nix books
    Frankie Pickle books by Eric Wight

    okay, there are too many to list now that I consider it. Happy reading!


  10. Tim Tocher says:

    Hi, Marc,

    Congratulations on your new position. Teaching is still a worthwhile and rewarding profession.

    Have you read THE DREAMER by Pam Munoz Ryan w/Peter Sis illustrations? A great book for interesting kids in Pablo Neruda and poetry in general. (Also enjoyable for adults as my wife and I can testify.)

    All the best,

    Tim Tocher

  11. Marc Aronson says:

    I was on a committee that gave her an award several years ago, so I know what you mean.

  12. Marc Aronson says:

    good indeed

  13. Marc Aronson says:

    I didn’t know about ripplereader thanks for the lead — and the list.

  14. Marc Aronson says:

    I have seen the book but have not yet read it, thanks for the reminder

  15. Liz Burns says:

    Congratulations on your new position! What a great opportunity! As to what to read, that all depends upon which age group/range your course will focus. Having gotten my start as a children’s librarian (some 20+ years ago), I now teach an introductory children’s literature course at a community college (as well as serve as its librarian). Since I must cover things for the preschool set through grade 8, I try to hit the high points with a balance of the well-known (i.e. Kevin Henkes, David Wiesner, Lois Ehlert, etc.) with newer writers and those in between. If you are focusing on the under 7th grade group (since that begins to cross YA lines), I would recommend the afore mentioned in addition to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Laurie Halse Anderson (she’s done several picture book biographies), Jack Prelutsky (I skip Shel Silverstein because my students always already know who he is), Judith Viorst, Ian Falconer, Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Louis Sachar, Jennifer Ward, Seymour Simon, Gail Gibbons, David Small, Kathleen Krull…I could go on. I hope this gets you started and best wishes for a successful semester.

  16. Marc Aronson says:

    thanks, this is useful — I have been in the library reading and reading…