Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nonfiction Books in the Classroom

All of us here on I.N.K. are excited about our new data base, which we hope will help guide teachers in using our books in the classroom. When I was a child, I loved reading nonfiction, especially books about animals. It's no wonder I became an "official" biologist by receiving a Ph.D. in Zoology. Using that training to help me explain how the natural world functions to children is a great joy in my life. Now I'm hoping that through our data base, more children will be able to enjoy the work of nonfiction trade book authors in their classrooms, not just through reading library books they've brought home.

As many teachers already know, these books can be springboards for so many different topics that children need to learn about.

My book, "The Right Dog for the Job," for example, is the story of how an adorable Golden Retriever puppy named Irah grew up to be a guide dog who made it possible for a piano tuner to do his work. But the book introduces children to many different subjects, such as how dogs grow up, how they are trained, and the kinds of jobs they are capable of doing. It also introduces the subject of "handicaps"--rather a strange word to me, as I'm a practical person, and I appreciate the motto of Don Simmonson, Irah's partner, who says of himself, "Only the eyes don't work." If someone like Don can be given eyes by way of a guide dog, he can do just about anything except drive a car. The book also illustrates how giving children responsibilities such as keeping people from petting a service dog in training can help them grow, and how saying good bye to something they have come to love, such as a dog like Irah, can teach them the joy of giving to another and can help them grow in self esteem.

My most recent book, "When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone," also handles many subjects, in this case mostly ecological topics, but also touching on our legal system, the National Parks system, and the problems around dealing with political differences, all in the context of a classic story of departure and return, this time of an entire species, the gray wolf, rather than a single fictional animal, like Lassie.

So, if you are a teacher and haven't looked at our data base yet, check out where you can match up our books to your classroom needs, and enjoy the wonderful variety of the INK authors along the way.

1 comment:

pat said...

My students LOVE these books because everything they need to know the book tells them - there are no questions after reading such as "well why do you think the alligator felt that way?", or "what do you predict is going to happen next to the wolf?" They are real to my group of low level readers and they actually get excited by their reading of these books and are sorry to have to finish them and move on to other genres.