Because I have tremendous respect for your passionate efforts to match the right book with the right child, I have a question for you. Okay, several questions.
It seems to me that most teachers and librarians feel quite comfortable matching readers and books of fiction, but much less confident about putting the right nonfiction book in the hands of a particular young reader.
During school visits and conferences or via email, educators ask me for advice about how to do this—more now than ever as Common Core becomes a way of life. I try to offer suggestions, broad guidelines or tips for “selling” the nonfiction books that I love, but I never feel like I’ve helped them as much as I want to.
We know that many elementary kids love collecting and sharing facts. They are drawn to the Guinness Book of World Records, for instance. But what would you recommend as a next step for these students? What kinds of nonfiction picture books would also fascinate them? What upper elementary or middle grade nonfiction is most likely to grab their attention? Or is there a gap in what we offer kids? Do we need a bridge, a stepping stone between the browsable fact books and rich, complex long-form nonfiction? If so, what might that bridge book look like?
Here’s another question: As an adult, I love some of the wonderful narrative nonfiction that is currently getting all the buzz in the kidlit world, but do kids love it? Do kids read it for pleasure or only if it’s a school assignment? And does making it a school assignment mean that children are bound to see these books as broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts rather than chocolate cake?
Forget all the gatekeepers. What are the best nonfiction books from a young reader’s point of view and how can we give them more of that?
Thanks for your time and consideration.