Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Debate Continues....

Readers of our blog may be interested in the following blog from The New York Times, discussing the debate about the new ratios of literature and nonfiction/informational text demanded by the Common Core State Standards by the time students are in high school: "What Should Children Read?" Sara Mosle, an English teacher, makes an important case about why students need to read more well-written nonfiction: as mentor texts, or models, for their own writing. In the interest of full disclosure, the author mentions one of fellow Uncommon Corps member Marc Aronson's books, Sugar Changed as the World, as an example of engaging literary nonfiction for young people. Perhaps you can share Mosle's piece with your colleagues after the Thanksgiving break, to help further the conversation about selecting age-appropriate, well-written nonfiction texts of all modalities in your school. In and of itself, it is an effective example of how well-written, short engaging nonfiction texts on relevant topics can generate authentic and purposeful dialogue between readers of all ages. 


  1. I couldn't agree more with Sara Mosle about the importance of reading excellent nonfiction--writing that has voice and point of view. Like the author she cited, I always read articles from the journals I am hoping to publish in. It gives me a good sense of the kind of writing the journal publishes. I have always felt, too, that growing up with The New York Times on the breakfast table had a huge impact on my writing. So...if identifying sources of high quality narrative nonfiction is the topic of the hour, that's one conversation I'd like to take part in. Books like Sugar Changed the World can show us a great deal about quality nonfiction
    writing. Check out other nonfiction award winners too.

  2. I too fully support teens reading short pieces and especially becoming conversant with good newspapers. That said, I was disappointed that Mosle didn't mention more books or give any sense of the rich array of nonfiction books available for children and teens.

  3. I felt that doing so might be beyond the scope of what she could accomplish in that short piece. And, she may not possess an extensive knowledge of the field. But it speaks to the giant chasm that we are trying to fill with our efforts, both on the blog and "in the world," doesn't it? How many teachers, librarians, and parents don't know about nonfiction literature for children and teens, and its potential in the classroom and in the personal reading lives of children.