Ha ha, not really.
I hope everybody is getting some use out of our latest newsletter, Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book. I’ve been thinking about NF a lot since ALA, where I spent two solid days talking to publishers about what they were planning for the coming year(s). Along with inflicting upon the world way too many books about bullying, they are more justifiably concerned with how to respond to the new Common Core State Standards. Should they be publishing more nonfiction? More teacher guides? How can they convince the lazier and/or busier and/or confused schools that the “exemplary texts” appended to the standards are, just as they say, examples, not required reading?
The thing is that aside from making sure they are publishing a healthy amount of nonfiction (because the CCSS require a lot of nonfiction reading), publishers aren’t really the target here. Teachers (and the librarians who support them) are. If you read the CCSS, you will see that its directives aren’t so much about what kids should read but how they should read. Even when I read the CCSS’s “Publishers’ Criteria” [PDF], I see an awful lot of verbose waffling (“texts” [ed. note: GROSS] should be short except when they’re long; texts should be difficult except when they’re not) without any real guidance.
The CCSS themselves offer exciting opportunities, no question. I would really enjoy, for example, asking kids to “compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided” But that’s a job for the classroom and the library, not a publishing house. Unless, and again GROSS, you decide the world really needs a new series called FirstHand/SecondHand that saves time for the teacher at the expense of the library’s budget. Shoot me now.