here's Nancy Bo Flood!
“Why?’ asks the child.
That is why we write nonfiction.
How is writing nonfiction different from writing fiction? Or is it?
Thoughts from Marion Dane Bauer, award-winning, long-time creator of fiction, and more recently an author of nonfiction for the youngest readers.
“Nonfiction for kids--at least the good nonfiction--has always been story-oriented.
It finds the story line in interesting facts about whatever the subject might be. There was a time when the story took over in juvenile nonfiction, dialogue was manufactured, even facts might be bent to serve the story. Now, in the best nonfiction, nothing is put down that can't be verified, but a good writer finds the story implicit in the material.”
Kim Griswell, senior editor at Highlights, Inc. points out that "...nonfiction has been recognized as another form of storytelling, rather than just a simple reportage of information. Successful nonfiction writers…have a sense of story….”
Strong nonfiction begins with PASSION for an idea, a concept, a historical event or person. Find the STORY. Distill the mountain of information. Expand. Create details that relate to a child’s experience. Sometimes in 400 words!
This week we will look at nonfiction books that are the “best” and explore why. Add you own favorites as a comment. Discuss why the book stays with you. What captivated your attention and imagination – the images, words, information, or the story?
This week we also will explore weird, fun and unusual combinations of narrative, verse, graphics, and even chants
(like a fish, suggests April Pulley Sayre).
Comment with your own favorites.
First, try this. Test your Nonfiction IQ!
Ah, yes, this is a test…. A creative test, GIVE IT A TRY
The very first Newbery was awarded to a nonfiction book? True or False?
What nonfiction books have been awarded a Newbery …a Caldecott?
Name one Prestigious Annual Award that recognizes the “best” in nonfiction.
Name one, five, or ten, nonfiction books that have been award-winners. How about nonfiction award-winning authors?
Score: one = slacker five = potential ten = genius
Writing nonfiction is more about information or more about creativity?
Are they any “rules” about writing creative nonfiction?
Answers will appear throughout the week. Send in your answers on the comment link. Answer one or all. Participants names will be drawn from a computer hat and winner will receive a copy of my new nonfiction book:
SAND TO STONE AND BACK AGAIN
Kim Griswell and Marion Dane Bauer both emphasized that the author searches for the story line, and once finding it, must “use literary devices that were once considered part of the realm of fiction writing such as creating a sense of place, using quotes (dialogue) to quicken pace and add interest, and getting in the sensory details that bring a story to life.” Kim Griswell
Indeed, writing nonfiction today couldn’t be more interesting and challenging. Almost anything goes – as long as the information is impeccably accurate, the story alive, the plot a page-turner… and the book IS fun, fascinating - or terrifying.
Stars Beneath Your Bed by April Pulley Sayre
Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka
Wolfsnail by Sarah Campbell
Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone
Nonfiction writing today is changing – the envelopes of style, voice, combinations of images, photographs, poetry, narrative, and words are being pushed with great imagination and daring every year.
I think the largest change has been the new respect for authenticity that didn't used to infuse juvenile nonfiction. Marion Dane Bauer
Otherwise, anything goes: for example –
April Pulley Sayre:
“I have some issues with the term creative nonfiction. First of all, why don't you have to use that term with fiction? Why assume that nonfiction is non-creative? That bothers me.
That said, I am known for "creative fiction" so I'll try to address it. First of all, I don't think there is a before and after in some defined way. Folks have been doing tremendously creative things in children's nonfiction for years. It's just that those gems of books were swamped by some pretty dull, uninspiring informational writing books. Just when I think something's new I come across some book from the late 1960s or 1970s that amazes me.
This week we will explore this genre, taste the great, hear the experts chant, learn how to be a nonfiction princesses. We will suggest what books to know, authors to read, advice to follow.
A closing nonfiction thought:
Children need facts about their world every bit as much as they need stories, and there are a lot of young readers--mostly boys--who are fascinated by facts but not much interested in the feeling situations explored in stories. We have been too quick to label these boys as nonreaders. If they can find the right books on the right subjects, many of them will read and read and read. Marion Dane Bauer
“Thrust Your Hand deep into life, and whatever you bring up in it, that is you, that is your subject.” Goethe
And then, as Kathy Appelt urges, “write as if your fingers are on fire.”
Fire and passion will be the topic of tomorrow’s talk.
- Nancy Bo Flood-