Narrative nonfiction is on the lesson plan in Lolly’s Classroom today. Is anyone else worried that the CCSS demand for more nonfiction reading does not seem to be translating into more nonfiction publishing? I have the feeling that publishers are mostly sitting this one out. (As well they might, now that no one seems to have a good word for the Standards.)
But, ever-quixotic, the Horn Book (with School Library Journal) is this month publishing the first volume in a new series, The Classroom Go-to Guide to the Common Core (Rowman & Littlefield). The book comprises reviews of recent recommended nonfiction for grades 4-6 from the Horn Book Magazine, arranged broadly by subject, and additional editorial material originally published in SLJ that offers further book recommendations for popular curricular units. Volume 2 will be published later this year, devoted to grades K-3.
Even if the Core Standards go down in a bonfire of populist flames I think our Go-to Guide (props to SLJ editor Rebecca Miller for the catchy title) is a great tool for libraries and classrooms trying to find first-rate nonfiction. As should they all be. Emphasis on “first rate”– for a review essay about bedtime books I’ve been working on for the NYT I was reading some Lucy Sprague Mitchell and found a quote that could have been written today:
A story must stimulate not merely inform. This is the trouble with our ‘informational literature’ for children, of which very little is worthy of the name. Indeed, I am not sure it is not a contradiction of terms. It is frankly didactic. It aims to make clear certain facts, not to stimulate thought. It assumes that if a child swallows a fact it must nourish him… Children will take this sort of story–what will their eager little minds not take? And like encyclopedias and other books of reference this type has its place in a child’s world. But it should never be confused with literature. (Here and Now Story Book, 1921)