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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

How We Read

For the first 15-20 years of my career working in books for children and teenagers, my colleagues in publishing and I had two kinds of readers/buyers in mind: individuals buying in stores (parents for children or teenagers on their own), and librarians purchasing for their collections. We pictured needing to convince the first buyer to [...]

Thought Experiment

I was speaking with my friend and co-book-maker John Glenn about my last post, and it suggested an idea. I am seeing huge sums being spent by schools on technology — ereaders, iPads, ELMO projectors, not to mention smart boards, laptops, netbooks, etc. What if someone were to create an experimental charter school in which [...]

Assert or Die

Speaking at a conference is always equally an opportunity to listen — to hear from people out in the field. It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that the buzz among librarians on Long Island was: the CCC (common core chaos); DD (digital dilemmas); and BC (budget cuts). At IRA last [...]

Heroes and their Journeys

I’m giving a talk to a Long Island library conference this Thursday and the theme is “everyday heroes.” I believe they asked me to come because I wrote about the trapped and rescued Chilean miners, whose story has an obvious link to the theme, but as I prepared my power point I began to realize [...]

Digital Books: What I Learned at IRA

I spent Sunday listening to and speaking at a preconference at IRA devoted to ebooks, apps, and their place in the classroom. Being immersed in one subject all day, in a sequence of related but quite distinct and ifferent talks, was wonderful. I got a good sense of what the audience (teachers) needed, and some [...]

More News From the 9th grade Front

It is quite a thrill to be here in a place called Normal — Illinois (after the school of education that was once here) and to work with the 4th consecutive 9th grade class that has built a year long unit around Race — and in such an intelligent way. The teachers explore many of [...]

Cross Section of 9th grade

This week I have the good fortune of once again working with 9th graders in Illinois. They have read parts of my book on race and are working on their first major research paper — following up on, or challenging, some contention of mine from that book. I’ve been reading over their proposals and while [...]

As the CC spreads, opposition, challenges, reality checks

I had the good fortune of being in Texas at TLA, then in Washington, DC with my family and to do some promotion work for Master of Deceit. Karen Macpherson interviewed me (and Sasha) for the Scripps-Howard papers, and I had a lengthy taped intervew for Reading Rockets (if you don’t know the many excellent [...]

YANF and Voice

I keep learning from my students. Last week my Nonfiction class turned in essays on YA fiction and NF — similarities and differences. A couple of the papers pointed out something I had never previously considered — and is well worth out discussion: YA fiction was born in voice. Many books seek to capture the [...]

Text Clusters, Text Complexity, and the Print Problem

Last night in my YA Materials class we were reading books about the Civil Rights movement: They Call Themselves the KKK; Claudette Colvin; Freedom Riders; Marching for Freedom. Some of the students knew Sue’s Hitler Youth, but otherwise the authors, the books, and even the subjects of some of the books were new to my [...]