In deciding which new nonfiction books to urge for the holidays, I’m squeezing my thoughts into one mother-of-all-recommendations: Nonfiction Writing from the Inside Out: Writing Lessons Inspired by Conversations with Leading Authors (Scholastic).
Usually, the teaching of writing emphasizes fiction and poetry, all well and good, but it’s expository writing that takes the cake in real life. The entire nonfiction writing process-- how to organize, research, think about a topic, find a voice, convince or inform-- these are skills that will carry students through life, helping them to be clear-thinking citizens and better at whatever career they pursue.
The author of this book, Dr. Laura Robb, has been a noted teacher for over forty years. I can’t say enough about the book—it’s the best possible gift for teachers, librarians, parents, anyone who wants their children to be able to write clearly. She details, step by illuminating step, how to get kids to write essays, plus book reports, diaries, interviews, letters, indeed any kind of creative writing that calls for persuasiveness and simplicity. As Dr. Robb writes, “We must help our student writers find their voices and approach nonfiction writing as an exciting craft they will want to fine-tune throughout their lives.” Her book is one savvy way of helping students open that door to becoming lifelong learners.
And I swear I’m not pushing it because she interviewed me. The authors from whom she gleans pointed tips about what makes good writing tick include Russell Freedman, Kathryn Lasky, Walter Dean Myers, James Cross Giblin, and a gaggle of other professionals.
Happy holidays, Laura Robb and all such dedicated teachers. Hopeful holidays to talented colleagues currently jobless. Anyone else, may I suggest some nonfiction for everyone on your list?