Monday, December 2, 2013

Reading Wildly: Nonfiction

Parts of this post are cross-posted at the brand new Nonfiction Monday group blog! Please stop by to see what great nonfiction bloggers are reading this week!

In November, we talked about Nonfiction at our monthly Reading Wildly discussion and it was a really great topic. 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's what we read this month: 

I'm really please by the breadth of what everyone read and everyone found at least one book that she truly enjoyed, so I'm hoping this will encourage my staff members to keep picking up nonfiction. 

For next month, our topic is Award Winners, which will springboard us nicely into the Youth Media Awards presentation in January. I passed out two articles for everyone to read: 

I told my staff that they are welcome to read winners and honor books and they're certainly not limited to the Newbery Award. ALSC gives out many, many awards!

We also spent some time at the end of our meeting deciding on genres and topics for next year's Reading Wildly (and I will post about that soon). My staff is getting a lot out of the program and we'll continue meeting monthly and discussing books and genres. They have really enjoyed having the articles the past couple of months and the articles have given us a good starting point for talking about genre. I'm really excited about the year to come!