Friday, December 7, 2018

“It reads just like fiction.”

I’m delighted to see a noticeable uptick in the number of nonfiction books being reviewed online by educators. That’s progress! Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart—and the hearts of so many young readers.

But as an unabashed nonfiction lover, perhaps even a nonfiction cheerleader, the joy in my heart instantly plummets, becoming a twisted knot in my stomach, whenever a nonfiction book review includes the words, “It reads just like fiction.”

What exactly does that mean?

I think the reviewer is intending these five words as a compliment, but let me ask you: What’s wrong with a nonfiction book reading like nonfiction? After all, that’s what it is.

Don’t we want kids to take pride in who they are?

Don’t we encourage students to celebrate their differences?

Shouldn’t we treat the books they read with the same respect?

Please remember that the language we use affects the way children think about the world and about themselves. It’s so, so important to honor and encourage the reading choices of all students.

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