In public libraries, adult patrons use nonfiction to solve questions, either personal or work-related. Children and young adults oftentimes use nonfiction for school projects—but this is not the only time nonfiction is used. Children love to read nonfiction outside of mandatory school work. Author Jon Sciezska connects boys’ interests with nonfiction subjects. In Katherine Bucher and KaaVonia Hinton’s Young Adult Literature, adolescents’ maturation can be complimented by nonfiction as “they demonstrate a need to know about things and to explore concepts and subjects in more detail” (267).
But, just like fiction, there are certain criteria of which a nonfiction book must align in order to be a meaningful work of literature. I use five main areas of inspection: writer authenticity (do they have a personal interest in the field?); accurate information; applicability to audience; style and organization; and illustrations. This inspection is best for already purchased nonfiction– for providing recommendations, creating displays, and weeding.
So where does a librarian start looking for new children’s nonfiction? Try checking out the following awards and blogs:
- Boston Globe – Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature (announced June of the current year)
- NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (announced January of following year)
- The Children’s Book Guild (Washington, DC) Nonfiction Award Winner (for authors)
- The Nonfiction Detectives blog
- Nonfiction Book Blast : Each year a new panel of award-winning nonfiction authors is selected to speak at the ALA Annual conference and share booktalks, video clips and activities
- Nonfiction Book Blast
You can also utilize databases such as the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (accessible at most public libraries). You can narrow down the results to books published in 2011 (or the past year) and award winners. This will include a lot more underground and geographical awards.
Stay tuned for 2011 nonfiction reviews!
*Bucher, Katherine and KaaVonia Hinton. Young Adult Literature: Exploration, Evaluation, and Appreciation. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2010.
Reading: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Listening: 4 by Beyonce
Watching: Forks Over Knives