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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

September 1: Panic, Harvest

The end of summer always points in two ways for me. On the one hand the beginning of September — whenever Labor Day falls — causes whiplash: where did summer go? I thought I had lots of time left, wait, no, that can’t be. On the other hand — and no matter how hot and humid the day may be — the hint of fall brings a sense of harvest: books about to publish, meeting students, projects coming to fruition. September 1 brings the loss of summer but the promise of harvest. That was precisely what I experienced yesterday.

I had been invited by a public school in NYC that is adding 6th and 7th grade this year to meet with their social studies teachers and middle school coordinators to help map out two years of class units. It is very easy to criticize textbooks, laugh at scope and sequence requirements. But it is quite another to figure out, unit by unit, what students can, and should cover in one year of Eastern Hemisphere caves to Industrial Revolution, and another year of US. first peoples to Civil War. With a lot of hard work, riffs, and insight from the teachers we came up with a framework I like. If it is OK with the school, I will share it here — in part because the next step is to figure out resources for each unit, and I hope you all will have ideas and suggestions for books, websites, magazines, novels, museums, etc

Then I went to visit http://www.touchybooks.com/en/ who are coming to my apps and ebooks — great to be with them and to get a sense of the on the ground openness and creativity of the kids reading apps. Walking from there I met an old friend in kids publishing, Norma Jean Sawicki, and showed her this spectacular book from India, http://navayana.org/?p=1035 and got exactly the enthusiastic response I hoped for. Taking a cab, I got an email from EBMA, the Educational Book and Media Association — who are so happy to hear about the work Mary Ann, Myra and I are doing in preparing teachers and librarians to deal with the new Common Core Nonfiction Literacy standards that they will fly us to their annual conference in January to hear us all speak.

And then i came down to Rutgers to meet my fellow faculty — it is going to be a very busy fall (word came from Candlewick that designed pages of my next book will arrive at my home today).

If yesterday was any indication it is going to be one busy fall for all of us — nonfiction is the air, schools open to new ideas, the Common Core creating new opportunities, more kinds of reading in new formats for kids (whatabout nonfiction apps for the youngest kids?), contacts all over the world.