Sunday, June 14, 2015

21st Century Nonfiction Conference: Breaking the Boundaries

From outrageous illustrations to engaging voices, the confining walls of humdrum nonfiction are being chipped away by one boundary-pushing book after another. In this session, Heather L Montgomery and Melissa Stewart examine where children’s nonfiction can go in the future. You will practice outside-of-the-box thinking, try an exercise to see where voice can take you, and experiment with visual thinking tools.

Some Exciting Trends

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
Visual Storytelling
Redwoods by Jason Chin
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Creative Art Styles
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
Witches! by Rosalyn Schanzer
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

Stunning Photos
Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Wolfsnail by Sarah C. Campbell

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Dynamic Design

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Unusual Format
The Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley
Clever Structure
Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley
Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman
Innovative Narrative Approach
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Attention-grabbing Hook
Bugged: How Insects Changed the World by Sarah Albee
Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee
Zombie Makers by Rebecca L. Johnson
When Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca L. Johnson
Unique Perspective
Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
Weeds Find a Way by Cynthia Jenson-Elliot

Visual Thinking Tools
Concept Maps
Sticky Notes
Build a Structure Sculpture
More Approaches
--Compare subject to something very similar or different
--Write a sentence for each of a variety of photos with different moods/tones.

Playing with Voice

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

How Rude! 10 Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners by Heather Montgomery

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg






  1. Melissa- just discovered this excellent blog. I've added it to our Kidlit411 website, on the Nonfiction page (( and Blogs to Follow

  2. Love this. Thanks for the ocean of inspiration!

  3. So much inspiration here. Thanks Melissa!