Making Nonfiction Writers into Classroom Rock Stars

the-wtwIllustrations from The New Way Things Work

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards has brought a lot of changes to the classroom. One big change is the emphasis on informational text. Many teachers have voiced concern over this new emphasis. Will these new standards sideline the beloved fiction we share with our students? Will the stress on nonfiction mean students no longer read great fiction for fun?

It’s hard to imagine classrooms without teachers championing great fiction. Students respond to our suggestions of authors, our repeated readings of certain writers, and our author study units with enthusiasm. And the mainstream media helps promote fiction writers, too. Have you seen the lines full of excited readers at bookstores when Rick Riordan is doing a signing? Have you seen the way J.K. Rowling gets greeted by screaming fans? We treat fiction authors like rock stars, yet many of us can’t name five nonfiction writers.

Rather than see the Common Core shift as the death of fiction in the classroom, let’s look at it as a way to bring fantastic, smart new authors into our teaching repertoire. How about we make rock stars out of nonfiction writers.

Here are a few great writers with multiple nonfiction books available. Pick one up, or pick up a few and do a new type of author study!

Kadir Nelson

 – Nelson Mandela
– Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
– We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Seymour Simon

– The Brain: Our Nervous System
– Weather
– Volcanoes
– Wolves
– Sharks

Jacqueline Briggs Martin

– The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story
– Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious

Giles Laroche

– If You Lived Here: Houses of the World
– What’s Inside?
– Sacred Places

David Macaulay

– The New Way Things Work
– City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction
– Castle
– Underground

April Chloe Terrazas

– Cellular Biology: Organelles, Structure, Function
– Chemistry: The Atom and Elements
– Anatomy & Physiology Part 1: Bones, Muscles, and the Stuff That Connects Bones and Muscles

Jim Murphy

– The Great Fire
– Blizzard!: The Storm  That Changed America
– An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
– Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Sally M. Walker

– Boundaries
– Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
– Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

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