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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Thank You and Next

Thanks to the many posters who commented on the thread about teachers, school librarians, and trade books. We learned about resources such as Teachingbooks and Thinkfinity, but also had many confirmations of the fact that whatever resources such as these could potentially offer, they are not appreciably changing how most teachers deal with social studies […]

Context and Change

Ceceile left a comment to my last post in which she talked about the challenge of context when her third grade students are being tested on isolated “identify and define” terms. At best such tests serve two purposes: they work as tests, since it is not hard to figure out if the student checked the box the testmaker […]

Something Here Just Is Not Making Sense

In a comment that you should all read, Liz Dejean directs our attention to  as an example of the kind of “clearning house” that Mary Ann desecribed. Indeed Nick was kind enough to interview me about history and, most recently, Marina and me about our Sugar book. So yes it exists, is a rich […]

The Gap

Last week Mary Ann and Shirley posted suggesting some interesting and fresh ways to overcome the gap between classroom teachers and trade books. If you did not read their comments, do so. Mary Ann suggested “a Nonfiction “Clearinghouse” of sorts….an online portal to authors, topics, organizational text structures, etc. Librarians could work on the archiving […]

Abuzz, But

Yesterday I attended a lunch where I had to meet the heads of various New Jersey state library associations — ranging from school librarians to law librarians to those who work closely with ALA. The good news from that meeting is that they are all aware of the new focus on nonfiction literacy — that […]

The Problem: Orwellian Education

The title of the talk Dr. O’Brian and I gave at NCSS was “There Was No Triangle Trade” — which, in fact, was true. My very first slide told the audience what all of them knew — every textbook insists there was such a trade, from Europe to Africa to the Caribbean to North America […]

NCSS Was Great

NCSS was everything I hoped it would be and more. The teachers were very receptive to trade books and excited to meet trade authors. In addition to Ann Bausum and Betsy Partridge, who I knew would be there, Jim Murphy and Deborah Hopkinson were there, and it went extremely well. I was most fortunate in […]

The Play’s the Thing

This is a blog about our books and performance: First off, Paul Fleischman wrote to let me know about the new play that has been made out of a manuscript of his — here is information in case you can make it. Having read the manuscript I can tell you it is like a cross […]

The 8th Grade(r) Challenge

I spent Tuesday visiting a middle school about an hour from where I live. Three assemblies, lunch with the students — a lively, dynamic, day. I arrived to talk with an auditaurium filled with lively 7th graders, who were soon followed by some 270 or so 6th graders. Both sessions went very well — lots […]


Yesterday Roger Sutton and Martha Paravanno — the key editors at the Horn Book magazine — came to our local bookstore by Skype to talk about their new book A Family of Readers ( This was a new-fangled author appearance where the author “appears” on screen but is not physically there. I asked them questions, […]