This month in the Children’s Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, our staff book discussion (Reading Wildly) centered around nonfiction!
Nonfiction is a genre that some of my staff thought they had no interest in and I think it can definitely be a weak area for many librarians. We started our discussion by talking about the article I had passed out last month:
“Making Nonfiction Accessible for Young Readers” by Sue Christian Parsons (Reading Today, October/November 2012).
While this article is definitely geared towards teachers, we found lots to discuss. We talked about why teachers and librarians may not be as familiar with nonfiction as with fiction – because when we were kids nonfiction may not have been prioritized and a lot of what was being published was textbook-y and dry. Within the past 5-10 years, narrative nonfiction has exploded and there is a lot more available today then there was when we were growing up. Our job as librarians is to stay on top of what’s being published and be ready to recommend engaging nonfiction to teachers and to kids.
Outside of the classroom, some readers naturally gravitate towards nonfiction and we owe it to them to include nonfiction in our readers’ advisory arsenal. We talked about other uses for nonfiction, too. Adults may be looking for a brief overview of a topic, something they might find in a children’s book. And so much great narrative nonfiction is being published for young people that adults may be missing out if they skip over the children’s section altogether.
And, of course, as more and more of our schools are moving to adopt Common Core standards, reading narrative nonfiction is going to become more and more prevalent in classrooms. Nonfiction picture books can be great tools, even in upper grades, to give students an overview of a topic. Keeping on top of nonfiction is essential! And my staff discovered that there are great, readable titles available if we look!
Here are the books my staff talked about this month:
- Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candance Fleming
- An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
- Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenburg
- The Code Talkers by Robert Daily
- Cowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood
- The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs by Sandra Markle
- The Fairy Ring, Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure
- The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino
- Haunted Histories by J.H. Everett
- Magic Treehouse Research Guides by Mary Pope Osborne (various volumes)
- Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
- Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and his Horn by Muriel Harris Weinstein
- The Very Scary Almanac by Eric Elfman
- Who is J.K. Rowling? by Pam Pollack
For more information about our discussion and our monthly Reading Wildly program, please visit my blog, abbythelibrarian.com.