Showing posts with label publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publishing. Show all posts

June 21, 2013

Melissa Stewart Recaps 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference

Enslow author, Melissa Stewart recently attended the 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference on the campus of the State University of New York in New Paltz. Writers, illustrators, designers, educators, and editors held workshops for those interested in learning more about opportunities in publishing nonfiction for children. 

Melissa spoke as part of the faculty panel discussing "21st Century Publishing: A Time of Transition." We asked Melissa to recap her experience at the conference. Here is what she had to say:

Recently, I had the great privilege and pleasure of being a guest lecturer for an online course taught by renowned children’s book author and editor Marc Aronson for Rutgers University. The class, Nonfiction and Common Core, is intended for students working toward their master’s degree in library information science.

In preparation, I decided to review the rest of the curriculum and I ran across something that blew my mind—a lesson called “Nonfiction Taxonomy.”

What’s that, you ask?

It turns out that Marc and his Uncommon Corps colleagues have developed a brand new, totally amazing system for classifying children’s nonfiction. I was so excited by the system that I asked if I could discuss it at last weekend's conference, and Marc gave me permission.

The classification system consists of seven broad categories:

Data: In more friendly terms, you might call this category Fasts Facts. It includes Eyewitness Books, The Guinness Book of World Records, and my own book Animal Grossapedia. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys read together and discuss.

Expository: You might call this category Facts Plus. The facts are interwoven into a content-area explanation. This is could be considered “traditional” nonfiction, except that there’s nothing traditional about today’s expository titles. Their engaging text and rich, dynamic art and design are sure to delight as well as inform young readers.

Narrative: This is a category we’ve heard a lot (I mean A LOT) about in the last few years. It’s the current darling of awards committees. Narrative titles present facts in the form of a true story with a narrative arc.

But here’s the thing. As you learn about the next few categories, I think you’ll see that some books have been lumped into the narrative category when there are actually better ways to describe them.

Disciplinary Thinking: These books reveal how scientists and historians go about their work, how they evaluate evidence and form theories. This category might also be called something like Experts at Work. Scientists in the Field books are the perfect example, but if you think about it, it won’t take long to think of single titles that do the same thing.   

Inquiry: This category could also be called Ask & Answer. In these books, the author raises a question or a group of related questions and then seeks the answer. Sally Walker’s Written in Bone is a great example, but these are the kinds of books Peter Lourie has been writing for years. And one of my favorites is What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby.

Interpretation: For these books, authors research a topic widely, find their own meaning in the information, and present the content from that point of view. Charles & Emma by Deborah Heiligman is the first title that leaps to mind, but I’d also put books like Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley and Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone in that category. I think we’ll see more of these books in the future because this type of presentation directly supports Common Core.

Action: This is the trickiest category. It offers a separate spot for titles that invite young readers to take action. The most obvious example is Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns, but I think it’s the kind of book we’ll see more of in the future.

My presentation was just one small bit of a fantastic 3-day conference that focused exclusively on nonfiction. Woo-hoo. Talented authors, editors, and other publishing industry gurus came together to discuss the future of nonfiction, from craft and Common Core to transmedia and book promotion. Anyone interested in nonfiction—authors, illustrators, editors, educators, designers, digital developers—should mark the next year’s conference dates on their calendars. It will be June 20-22, 2014 on the campus of SUNY New Paltz.

Author Note: Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 150 science books for children. She has always been fascinated by the natural world and is passionate about sharing its beauty and  wonder with readers of all ages. For information about Melissa and her books you can visit her web site.

October 11, 2010

Fifth Annual New York Comic Con and comic book memories

On Sunday I attended the New York Anime/Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Center for the first time. I had a great time strolling Illustrator Alley, shopping the vendors (got my Bazinga and Flash t-shirts), and attending several of the Professional Panels while admiring all of the great costumes and superheros walking the floor and hanging from the ceiling!

I even purchased a one year subscription of unlimited online comics as a birthday present for my daughter at the Marvel booth. This reminded me of how publishers of all genres are changing with the times. Apparently, comic books are no exception.

It wasn't until rummaging through some boxes of old comic books at a vendor table that my childhood memories of comic books came rushing back. My earliest memory of comic books is being at our family's lake house.We didn't have a television there. We were lucky to be able to afford the one television at home. As you can imagine we did lots of other things like fish, hike, and ride bikes. But, on rainy days I remember my parents taking my brothers and I to a bookstore that sold comic books. We were each allowed to pick out several comic books since they were probably an inexpensive way of keeping the three of us from killing each other until the rain subsided. I was always an avid reader so I'm pretty sure I had a book with me. My brothers...not so much. I don't remember being allowed to buy comic books like Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica when we were at home, so when I think of comics books, rainy days at the lake house are what I remember. Thank you Comic Con for helping me relive that memory on Sunday.

What's your earliest memory of comic books?