Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Snapshot of Betsy Bird's Session on The Common Core with Nonfiction Recommendations

This post is not meant to be a substitute for Ms. Bird's fabulous presentation. However, the books she mentioned sounded phenomenal and I know that many avid readers are either teachers or writers of educational materials. We also have concerned parents out there and students scrambling to figure out what fits into what in "The Common Core." I'll give you the very short version of library needs to fulfill requests from educators related to the core and several book recommendations from a fabulous librarian.

Overall, the hope is that the common core will move the focus in education away from rote learning and toward deeper and more analytical processing. After years of research and discussion, educational big wigs have determined that filling in bubbles on a ScanTron does not prepare one for the workplace or college. Who knew?

The proposed solution for educators is to provide more actual books in classes rather than textbooks and include primary sources, when possible. Basically this means a stronger focus on nonfiction as the grade level increases. In Kindergarten, students are supposed to read 50% fiction and 50% nonfiction. By 12th grade, they are supposed to read 65% nonfiction. Another wrinkle in this is that students are supposed to be reading books that match their level---not above or below. They also need to read books that satisfy certain requirements for he core. It's complicated. What makes it even more complicated is that children's sections don't shop like a college bookstore at Berkley.

If you are an author who enjoys writing nonfiction for kids, here are some opportunities:

Immigration--not from Ellis Island
Colonial America for a 2nd grade audience---not the American Revolution
YA Nonfiction---pretty much anything

Now For the Good Stuff

Locomotive by Brian Floca [also the author of Moonshot]

Long and detailed, but still awesome. Just what a budding rail fan needs.

Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band by Ann Rockwell

A band of orphans playing instruments salvaged from the Civil War.

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith, Jr, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

In which it is revealed that slaves helped build The White House.

When Stravinsky met Nyjinsky by Lauren Stringer

In which music and dance lead to rioting in the streets, but don't they always?

Pluto's Secret: An Icy Wonder's Tale of Discovery[Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum]

Hey, Pluto fooled us into thinking it was a planet for all those years. Who knows what else it has up its sleeve?

A Splash of Red: The Life and art of Horace Pippin Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Never heard of this guy? Me neither! All the more reason to read about him.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable life of Paul Edos By Deborah Helligman Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Meet Paul: a crazy mathematical genius.

The Tree Lady by Joseph Hopkins

Save a tree because the nice lady says so.

Daredevil: The Daring life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy

Who says girl power can't start with picture books?

You Never Heard of Willie Mays? by Jonah Winters & Terry Widener

I've heard of him, but I'm assuming this builds on my limited knowledge.

When the Beat was Born by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Quick, read-up and then we'll go breakdance.

Look up! Bird watching in your own backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Yes, look up, but keep your mouth closed.

Wild Boy by Mary Losure, Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Betsy Bird mentioned that the "savage" went on to have a surprisingly happy life after he was "rescued"/"captured."

Bones Never Lie by Elizabeth McLeod

For the small children who are allowed to watch CSI. Still, really? You let your toddlers watch CSI?

Courage Has No Color: The true story of The Triple Nickles, America's first black paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone

PARATROOPERS!!!! Do you need any other reason to check this out?