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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters


I’ve spent this week teaching an online class to very bright kids about the Crusades. The class is organized through the Davidson Institute ( which I have mentioned here before. It is a real treat for me to work with kids who are so alert, have fresh ideas to offer, and are not hesitant to […]

The Sandwich: NF and F with some critical thinking on the side

Years ago Margery Cuyler, who is now publisher at Marshall Cavendish, and I worked together. She said that my temperament was that of a pioneer — I like to explore ahead. That is true, and this fall I am teaching a class at Rutgers on how youth service libraries should deal with ebooks and apps […]

A Challenge for All of US: Black Teenagers with HIV/AIDS

This weekend at a party I met a public health researcher who focuses on HIV/AIDS, and her compelling story soon riveted all of us. Perhaps you knew this, but I did not: while blacks are about 16% of the US population, they suffer from 46% of the AIDS cases, with the growing population of infected […]

Some Exciting Links and Connections — and a Question

I’ve been asked to consult with a growing NYC public school that is adding on the 6th and 7th grade and wants to think through its Social Studies sequence. In preparation for our meeting, the principal sent me this link to the UCLA National Center for History in the Schools, and the standards it set […]

Fantasy Life and Magical Thinking

I was talking with my older the son the other day about magical thinking — the fantasy that if you doing something good, like clean up your room, or find something that is missing, it will help the team you are rooting for to win, to find the key base hit; or, in reverse, that […]

Yeh Girls! Boo Publishers!The Times They Are a Changin

I hope you have all read about the amazing American girl sweep in the first Google Science Fair: Some 10,000 students from 91 countries and in three different age cohorts submitted projects, and three American girls won. As Shree Bose, the older teenage group winner said, “Personally I think that’s amazing, because throughout my […]

Illustrating Nonfiction — Knowledge in the Round

On Saturday Betsy Partridge hosted a panel on Illustrating Nonfiction at the Vermont College MFA for Children’s and YA Literature, and Marina and I drive up (5 hours each way) to join her. The panel and discussions went very well — sparking ideas for us, and I hope for the students. Betsy began with a […]

The News Corp Hacking Scandal Considered as a Fantasy Novel

Have you been following the drama over News of the World, and then more broadly the News Corp. empire? The dramatic arc so reminds me of fantasy novel: News Corp has been growing, and growing, buying up everything it wants and needs — I worked at then Harper & Row just as it was purchased […]

Political Calculation Is Not the Same as Knowledge

It seems the suggestion that black children were more likely to live in a two-parent family under slavery than today did not go over well with the public, so the good paster Plaats has appologized and adjusted his words: ““After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we […]

NASA, Budgets, Voters

I see in a headline today that NASA might be in trouble: The need (as well as the political urge, more on that below) to slash the federal budget comes just as the last shuttle flies. As we question where to spend money, NASA does not have a program to capture our eyes on […]