I am excited to announce that tomorrow, November 1st, my latest book, co-authored with Erika Thulin Dawes, will be released: Teaching to Complexity: An Evaluation Framework for Literary and Content Area Texts. For those of you interested in engaging more with nonfiction books for children and young adults, I think (and hope!) you'll find this book a useful starting point.
We think of Teaching to Complexity as the "back story" to Teaching with Text Sets. The book is a primer for selecting texts for classroom use. We seek to give teachers a deeper "keel" for understanding how texts operate, the nuances of genres, and why having "good" books in the classroom matters. We link an evaluation of the quality of a book with its role in the classroom, and discuss the many, many different purposes for using books across the content areas, and how that shapes your approach to selecting a text. Ultimately, we then bring in a conversation about readers, matching the quality and utility of the book with a consideration of text complexity. We "unpack" what the CCSS says about complexity and then present a process for thinking about how quality, utility, and complexity intersect when selecting books with readers at the forefront. Ultimately, we share an understanding of text complexity as malleable, not fixed, dependent upon not just the range of readers in the room, but the context in which a text is being used, and how the other texts within the text set are positioned.
Here is the official book blurb:
As an important tool for instruction and text selection, Teaching to Complexity will help teachers learn to evaluate children’s and young adult literature for quality and complexity to support rigorous literacy and content learning. In addition, it explores how instructional purpose shapes not only the kinds of curricular texts used, but also considers their complexity relative to readers. By offering a framework for text selection, this book helps teachers more deeply understand text complexity in the Common Core and other state standards as well as its importance when building and using text sets in the classroom and reading for different purposes.