Posts Tagged teachers

Announcing the #KidsLoveNonfiction Campaign

 

Announcing the #KidsLoveNonfiction Campaign
This morning, Mary Ann Cappiello, Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University, and Xenia Hadjioannou, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University, sent the letter below to The New York Times requesting that the paper add three children’s nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing picture book, middle grade, and young adult lists, which focus on fiction.

This change will align the children’s lists with the adult bestseller lists, which separate nonfiction and fiction. It will also acknowledge the incredible vibrancy of children’s nonfiction available today and support the substantial body of research showing that many children prefer nonfiction and still others enjoy fiction and nonfiction equally.

If you support this request, please follow the signature collection form link to add your name and affiliation to the more than 200 educators and librarians who have already endorsed the effort. Your information will be added to the letter but your email address will remain private.

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nonfiction books for young people are in a golden age of creativity, information-sharing, and reader-appeal. But the genre suffers from an image problem and an awareness problem. The New York Times can play a role in changing that by adding a set of Nonfiction Best Seller lists for young people: one for picture books, one for middle grade literature, and one for young adult literature.

Today’s nonfiction authors and illustrators are depicting marginalized and minority communities throughout history and in our current moment. They are sharing scientific phenomena and cutting-edge discoveries. They are bearing witness to how art forms shift and transform, and illuminating historical documents and artifacts long ignored. Some of these book creators are themselves scientists or historians, journalists or jurists, athletes or artists, models of active learning and agency for young people passionate about specific topics and subject areas. Today’s nonfiction continues to push boundaries in form and function. These innovative titles engage, inform, and inspire readers from birth to high school.

Babies delight in board books that offer them photographs of other babies’ faces. Toddlers and preschoolers fascinated by the world around them pore over books about insects, animals, and the seasons. Children, tweens, and teens are hungry for titles about real people that look like them and share their religion, cultural background, or geographical location, and they devour books about people living different lives at different times and in different places. Info-loving kids are captivated by fact books and field guides that fuel their passions. Young tinkerers, inventors, and creators seek out how-to books that guide them in making meals, building models, knitting garments, and more. Numerous studies have described such readers and their passionate interest in nonfiction (Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 2002; Moss and Hendershot, 2002; Mohr, 2006). Young people are naturally curious about their world. When they are allowed to follow their passions and explore what interests them, it bolsters their overall wellbeing. And the more young people read, the more they grow as readers, writers, and critical thinkers (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021; Van Bergen et al., 2021).

Research provides clear evidence that many children prefer nonfiction for their independent reading, and many more select it to pursue information about their particular interests (Doiron, 2003; Repaskey et al., 2017; Robertson & Reese, 2017; Kotaman & Tekin, 2017). Creative and engaging nonfiction titles can also enhance and support science, social studies, and language arts curricula. And yet, all too often, children, parents, and teachers do not know about recently published nonfiction books. Bookstores generally have only a few shelves devoted to the genre. And classroom and school library book collections remain dominated by fiction. If families, caregivers, and educators were aware of the high-quality nonfiction that is published for children every year, the reading lives of children and their educational experiences could be significantly enriched.

How can The New York Times help resolve the gap between readers’ yearning for engaging nonfiction, on the one hand, and their lack of knowledge of its existence, on the other? By maintaining separate fiction and nonfiction best seller lists for young readers just as the Book Review does for adults.

The New York Times Best Sellers lists constitute a vital cultural touchstone, capturing the interests of readers and trends in the publishing world. Since their debut in October of 1931, these lists have evolved to reflect changing trends in publishing and to better inform the public about readers’ habits. We value the addition of the multi-format Children’s Best Seller list in July 2000 and subsequent lists organized by format in October 2004. Though the primary purpose of these lists is to inform, they undeniably play an important role in shaping what publishers publish and what children read.

Adding children’s nonfiction best-seller lists would:

  • Help family members, caregivers, and educators identify worthy nonfiction titles.
  • Provide a resource for bibliophiles—including book-loving children—of materials that satisfy their curiosity.
  • Influence publishers’ decision-making.
  • Inform the public about innovative ways to convey information and ideas through words and images.
  • Inspire schools and public libraries to showcase nonfiction, broadening its appeal and deepening respect for truth.

We, the undersigned, strongly believe that by adding a set of nonfiction best-seller lists for young people, The New York Times can help ensure that more children, tweens, and teens have access to books they love. Thank you for considering our request.

Dr. Mary Ann Cappiello

Professor, Language and Literacy

Graduate School of Education, Lesley University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Former Chair, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Committee

 

Dr. Xenia Hadjioannou

Associate Professor, Language and Literacy Education

Penn State University, Harrisburg Campus

Harrisburg, PA

Vice President of the Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

 

 

 

References

Allington, R. L., & McGill-Franzen, A. M. (2021). Reading volume and reading achievement: A review of recent research. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S231–S238. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.404

Correia, M. (2011). Fiction vs. informational texts: Which will your kindergarteners choose? Young Children, 66(6), 100-104.

Doiron, R. (2003). Boy Books, Girl Books: Should We Re-organize our School Library Collections? Teacher Librarian, 14-16.

Kotaman H. & Tekin A.K. (2017). Informational and fictional books: young children’s book preferences and teachers’ perspectives. Early Child Development and Care, 187(3-4), 600-614, DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2016.1236092

Jobe, R., & Dayton-Sakari, M. (2002). Infokids: How to use nonfiction to turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic learners. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke.

Mohr, K. A. J. (2006). Children’s choices for recreational reading: A three-part investigation of selection preferences, rationales, and processes. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(1), 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3801_4

Moss, B. &  Hendershot, J. (2002). Exploring sixth graders’ selection of nonfiction trade books: when students are given the opportunity to select nonfiction books, motivation for reading improves. The Reading Teacher, vol. 56 (1), 6+.

Repaskey, L., Schumm, J. & Johnson, J. (2017). First and fourth grade boys’ and girls’ preferences for and perceptions about narrative and expository text. Reading Psychology, 38, 808-847.

Robertson, Sarah-Jane L. & Reese, Elaine. (Mar 2017). The very hungry caterpillar turned into a butterfly: Children’s and parents’ enjoyment of different book genres. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 17(1), 3-25.

Van Bergen, E., Vasalampi, K., & Torppa, M. (2021). How are practice and performance related? Development of reading from age 5 to 15. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(3), 415–434. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.309

If you support the request to add three children’s nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing lists, which focus on fiction, please add your name and affiliation to the signature collection form.

STEM Tuesday– The Impacts of Our Changing Climate– In the Classroom

 

What is climate change? And how does it affect you and me? There are a lot of great books to help students learn about climate change, how it impacts our lives, and what we can do about it, and they are an excellent starting point for activities and discussion in the classroom. Are you ready to explore our changing climate?

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhen the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water Crisis by Nancy F. Castaldo
What would you do if you turned on the faucet and the water was toxic, or no water flowed at all? Readers will explore worldwide water issues and learn from those impacted and making a difference.

Classroom activity: Hold a classroom discussion about water and water shortages. Do you live in an area that has experienced water shortages? What happened? How did you deal with it? In small groups, have students investigate the water supply in their communities. Where does their water originate? How is this water source affected by climate change? What impact has that had on the local community? On families? Students can brainstorm ways to conserve water in their communities. Have each group present their conservation plan to the class.

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code by Amy Cherrix
Hurricanes and severe storms leave millions of people in danger. Explore how scientists are studying hurricanes in this Scientists in the Field title.

Classroom activity: Extreme weather can be one of the earliest signs of climate change that you will experience. Weather becomes “extreme” when it is far outside what is typical weather for a specific place at a particular time of year. Hurricanes are one type of extreme weather. Have students select a different kind of extreme weather to research. Have them answer the following questions: What areas of the world are most affected by this weather? How does climate change impact this type of extreme weather? What can we do to protect people and property from this type of extreme weather? Have students prepare a disaster plan for their chosen weather event. What should they do to prepare before the weather event? What should they do during and after to stay safe? Share and discuss the disaster plans with the class.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhere Have All The Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch
Hirsch explores bee population decline in her latest STEM title. Readers will explore bee natural history along with ways to slow their decline.

Classroom activity: Bees are just one species threatened by climate change and habitat loss. Every living thing on Earth feels the effects of climate change, including those in the backyard or local park. Have students take a walk outside in their backyard or nearby park. Have them identify the organisms that live there, their habitats, and the typical climate of the area. Research and discuss how climate change will affect the plant and animal habitats? Will the species that live there be able to survive? Have students predict what will happen to the backyard ecosystem in the next 20 years and explain their reasoning.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHow To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other by Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff
Klein explores a trove of things we can all do to help the planet in this age of climate change. It also includes powerful stories of young readers making a difference.

Classroom activity: Have students choose one of the young people profiled in this book or another book to study. How has their chosen activist made a difference to protect the planet and everything that lives on it? Have students work together in small groups to create a short presentation of their chosen activist and their achievements.

 

 

Want some more climate activities? Here are a few resources to try:
• NASA Climate Kids, https://climatekids.nasa.gov/menu/make/
• UCAR Center for Science Education, https://scied.ucar.edu/activity
• National Ocean Service, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/discoverclimate/

Hopefully, these activities and resources will get your students excited to learn more about climate change!

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Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction science books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at http://www.carlamooney.com, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.

STEM Tuesday– The Impacts of Our Changing Climate– Book List

2021 was the warmest year on record. We’ve seen the impact of climate change first-hand all around the world. Let’s explore books that are bringing climate change impacts to young readers.

When the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water Crisis by Nancy F. Castaldo

What would you do if you turned on the faucet and the water was toxic or no water flowed at all? Readers will explore worldwide water issues and learn from those impacted and making a difference.

Running Dry: The Global Water Crisis by Stuart A Kallen

Here’s another look at the global water crisis.

Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code by Amy Cherrix

Hurricanes and severe storms leave millions of people in danger. Explore how scientists are studying hurricanes in this Scientists in the Field title.

Weird Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Climate Change, But Probably Should Find Out by Kate Evans

Explore everything you should know about weather in this graphic novel.

Fuel Under Fire: Petroleum and Its Perils by Margaret J. Goldstein

Every day, people use about 90 million barrels of petroleum. This book explores the use and the search for that dwindling resource.

Old Enough to Save the Planet: Be inspired by real-life children taking action against climate change by Loll Kirby, illustrated by Adelina Lirius

A look at what young kids can do to save the planet.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat – Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan

This young readers edition addresses our eating habits and their global implications.

How To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other by Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff

Klein explores a trove of things we can all do to help the planet in this age of climate change. It also includes powerful stories of young readers making a difference.

Our World Out of Balance: Understanding Climate Change and What We Can Do by Andrea Minoglio, illustrated by Laura Fanelli

Clear and concise descriptions of climate change and environmental degradation. Monoglio also includes what is being done and ways we can act to build a better world.

The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems by Rachel Ignotofsky

If you loved Women in Science, you’ll love this illustrated tour of our planet’s ecosystems and how they work.

Where Have All The Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Hirsch explores bee population decline in her latest STEM title. Readers will explore bee natural history along with ways to slow their decline.


Photo of DESERTS author Nancy Castaldo

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. Academy Award winner and environmentalist Jeff Bridges calls Planet Ocean a “must read.” Newman, a Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.