A million bazillion years ago (O.K., 1998) I wrote and published a book called THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY KID'S GUIDE TO RESEARCH, re-titled in paperback THE KID'S GUIDE TO RESEARCH with the cooperation of the New York Public Library. (You can probably guess why.) I wrote the book just as this thing called the world wide web, or the internet, was becoming well, a thing. If you look at the table of contents of the book, you'll see that it was only a chapter:
I remember writing that chapter thinking, I have no idea what I am writing about, I hope it makes sense. (I had experts to help me, don't worry.) Now it seems kind of laughable that a section in chapter 5 is The Vertical File. The whole internet is, really, a vast and wonderful vertical file. But there are, of course, lots of things in the book that still apply. And the one I want to talk about today is HANDS-ON RESEARCH.
How many other writers out there do hands-on research? Raise your hands! Yes, I see you. Lots of you! How many teachers out there ask their students to do hands-on research? Yes, many of you, too! I'd love to hear from other writers what you have done recently and from teachers what you have had your students do. Please share by commenting on this post.
In that chapter I include different kinds of hands-on research. For instance if you're writing about animals, do first-hand observation! (I've been doing a lot of that since July 8 with my new dog Ketzie, although for now it's just for pleasure, not yet with a specific book in mind). I take photographs to document such observations. This is how a dog defends a stuffed-bone from her older human "brothers."