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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Another View of the Textbook Problem

I was helping my 5th grade son with his Social Studies homework and so I began reading through his American History textbook. To my surprise and pleasure, I was impressed. The ideas in the book were (mainly, big exception to come, see below) rather fresh. The picture of the colonies with its emphasis on the […]


I’ll be in the archives tomorrow so I am posting this a day early. Thanks to everyone for your comments on YA NF science — we could add math to that. As far as I know, The Number Devil is the only book that might be considered YA math in a trade book, not a […]

The Missing Side of YA NF

The other day I saw this YALSA content analysis of Printz winners: The article reviewed the commonalities of the award winners and honorees. My accurate but somewhat peevish reaction to the essay was that it missed the most obvious trend — Printz winners are nearly always fiction, and, not only that, nearly always novels. When […]

Separate Worlds

Proposals to give talks at NCSS are due tomorrow and I am working with several excellent professors to get ours in. At the very same time, I’ve been having editorial meetings with a publisher about a future book. The two worlds — Social Studies teachers and trade book publishers — could not be more separate. […]

Morality and Libraries

Each week in my YA literature class there is one book that disturbs one of my students. Sonya Harnett’s Surrender did that one week, this week it was Janne Teller’s Nothing — though there have been those who take serious objection to more popular favorites such as Mockingbird and the Twilight series. So the question […]


In my YA Literature class we have been discussing “realism” — what is it, what is it in YA, how has the term been changing? My students wrote the most terrific papers, which fit perfectly with our discussion last night on Twilight; Going Bovine; Nowhere, and The Arrival (Twilight a carryover from a prior week […]

The Achievement Gap

In my last post I mentioned the discussion in my men’s reading group of what change we thought might come in our lifetimes. My own contribution to that discussion had been our acceptance of the 50% black high school graduation rate. Today in the Times, there is a profile of Tonald Ferguson, the Harvard professor […]

Egypt and History

We have a Czech young man who lives in our home and helps take care of our boys when Marina and I are chained to our keyboards and classrooms. Last night he was in our living room watching the crowds in Tahrir Squeare and thinking back to the Velvet Revolution that defined his parents’ lives. […]

Vox Pop

In my last post I wrote about the serve and volley between author’s need to preserve his/her artistic integrity and distance from public pressure and my growing sense of the need, and opportunity, for authors to gain through interaction with their young readers. Well that very night, courtesy of Joyce Valenza, Ernie Cox and their […]

Tennis Practice — A Proposal

When I was in freezing Houston last week my host, Dorcas Hand, was kind enough to take me to various good ethnic restaurants for dinner. The Turkish food was especially good, perhaps because Dorcas has an AFS exchange student living with her who is Turkish and helped us to make good choices. Good food made […]