Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing

NCTE. Nov. 2020. 190p. pap. $34.99. ISBN 9780814133521.
Seeking to address the “critical gap in nonfiction writing instruction,” Stewart has compiled thought-provoking essays by 50 children’s nonfiction writers. Dispelling the notion that nonfiction writing is just a retelling of fact, author Candace Fleming says, “I am a storyteller, not a fact teller. And the true tales I write spring directly from my experiences, passions, heartbreaks, obsessions, fears, quirks, curiosities, beliefs, desires.” Other writers share their personal connections and passions for their subjects, emphasizing their extensive research. Each of the book’s three sections, “Choosing a Topic,” “Finding a Focus,” and “Making It Personal,” begins with an introductory essay, followed by 17–18 essays; a Teacher Timesaver Table quickly breaks down the grade level, format, content area, and highlights of the essays, and instructional strategies are included in each section. Though the contributors here mostly write for a younger audience (kindergarten through eighth grade), the insights are more likely to resonate with an older audience. High school teachers could share the accounts with their students, but teens may not be interested in learning how picture book writers found inspiration. Still, with some modifications, educators working with younger people might find this useful—and might enjoy the essays themselves. While there is some diversity among the writers included, the overwhelming majority are white.
VERDICT An additional purchase where educators are looking for insight into teaching the nonfiction writing process.

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