Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wandering through nonfiction

I'm still reading more than I'm writing these days. Partly to prepare for Chautauqua. I'm also reading the junior version of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World, One Child At A Time By Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin, Adapted By Sarah Thomson and Foreward By Dr. Jane Goodall. It's our first nonfiction selection for my tween reading group at the library.

I think a lot of us who read and write fiction tend to forget about the nonfiction out there for kids. Looking around the library, I'd say the amount of space devoted to each is pretty equitable. If you put all the picture books together with the middle grade books, they take up about the same space as the nonfiction. Maybe a little more.

Some kids read a lot of nonfiction. Boys in particular. I've learned that boys (and men!) like to read about things they can do. They like books about sports, or cars or sharks or how to draw superheroes or take digital pictures. Once they get interested in a subject, they will check out everything we have on it. The girls who read nonfiction tend to stick to the pets and crafts, but usually have one or two nonfiction books mixed in with a stack of fiction. Of course kids occasionally check out a biography or a random book about Argentina or Neptune, but I think those are mostly for school.

Every time the Rapunzels read a book, we display related reading at the meeting. Usually it's nonfiction. For Becoming Naomi Leon last week, we put out books about Mexico and books for children about alcoholism. For Strawberry Girl last month, we displayed books about Florida, growing sugar cane, and of course, strawberries. The girls never check them out. They're happy to discuss the nonfiction aspects of the books we read, but they don't usually want to take it further. And that's fine. We aren't school, after all, we're a book club. But now I'm wondering what will happen when we start with nonfiction.


Sarah said...

So interesting that you bring up nonfiction, Michelle! I still read mainly fiction, though I did check out a lot of space and weather books when I was younger. My favorite space book was Grand Tour. It had beautiful illustrations of the solar system. And I loved any weather book that had information about tornados.

I've definitely been writing more than reading/ blogging. I suppose I should actually post something on the blog sometime soon, huh?

Tess said...

I read Three Cups of Tea (adult version) and loved the story but the writing was d-r-y. I heard the youth version was a much funner read. There is lots to discuss in that book, I'm sure the kids will love it.

And, I love non fiction if it is done well. One of my all time favorites is "Manhunt: the 14 day chase for Lincoln's killer" (i think thats the subtitle)..anyway, is reads like a novel and is sooo interesting and well done.

Michelle said...

Tess, I listened to the adult version on audio, and it was a bit dry. I had heard that the kid's version was choppy, but I found it a much more interesting read because a lot of the politics parts were edited out, leaving behind the stuff I found really interesting.