More than ever before, kids are choosing to read nonfiction.* This often under-appreciated genre of kidlit has broken away from the straightforward, “textbook” styles of the past, and exploded with compelling structures and engaging tones. I mean, who can resist Melissa Stewart’s book titled Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs, or Steve Sheinkin’s Lincoln’s Grave Robbers that follows the thrilling true story of how counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s coffin in 1875. Another gripping narrative can be found in Christina Soontornvat’s All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys Soccer Team. The biggest draw to these books is that they’re filled with things that are real. Kids like that more than adults realize,** especially given what we’ve all been through. Some people turn to fiction to escape during hard times; others seek refuge in facts and truth. Kids often try to get a better understanding of the world around them.
It’s been just over a year since a writing conference opened my eyes to this dynamic area of kidlit, and I’m still learning so much. In February I participated in Nonfiction Fest. Each day had challenges to develop my research skills, inspire new ideas, and engage with the nonfiction writing community. I loved it, and it gave me some great ideas for future projects! I also won Jennifer Swanson’s Astronaut/Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact–another fabulous MG nonfiction book from an author I’ve come to go a little bit fangirl on. 🙂
It was a lucky month for me as I also won Leslie Bulion’s Spi-Ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs through a Twitter contest. My boys and I have had so much fun reading her lyrical spider poems that are chuck full of cool arachnoid facts. Whether your interest lies in reading or writing, I urge you to invite more nonfiction books into your life. They just might surprise you!
*See this Washington Post article for more on this.
**See this Publisher’s Weekly article for stats that show how juvenile nonfiction experienced 3X the growth in sales in 2020 than juvenile fiction.