Uh-oh, people, check it out. Remember the new Common Core State Standards that say nonfiction should make up 50 percent of the reading kids do in elementary schools and 70 percent of what they read by grade 12? Of course you do. Pretty cool for the top-flight authors who write such outstanding nonfiction books for kids these days, yes? Well, take a gander at this front page banner headline from yesterday’s Washington Post:
NEW SCHOOL LIT STANDARDS MAKE TEACHERS SMOLDER
Now there’s a headline that makes authors smolder too. So here’s a link to the very same article in its online incarnation, only with this kinder, gentler headline:
COMMON CORE SPARKS WAR OVER WORDS
Will an alternate headline make this news any easier to swallow? Let’s take a look.
Nope, it only gets worse because in spite of commentary on both sides of the issue, here’s the main thrust of the story:
Now teachers everywhere will have to banish almost all traces of great literature from their classrooms, and especially from their English classrooms. Instead, the CCSS dictates the use of such boring “informational texts” as a bunch of raw data, official papers from a Federal Reserve Bank and the General Services Administration, and some arcane speeches by dead people with no support material whatsoever to help put the material into context.
Want more? Calling the Common Core “misguided,” a Massachusetts’ specialist in pre-K-12 educational standards says that teachers “hate the Common Core, they hate the idea they have to teach nonfiction.” She says its supporters are “trying to elevate fact-based reading and writing at the expense of literature and creative writing.” So what are we—chopped liver?
And then there’s this: “The effect of the new standards is to drive literature out of the English classroom,” says a professor from Teachers College at Columbia University.
What? This article spans three pages in one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers, and not one single mention is made about the outstanding nonfiction literature written specifically for kids??
WAKE UP, WASHINGTON POST. At this very moment, we are basking in the glow of a Golden Age of nonfiction. The best of these books bring to life some of the most exciting and riveting stories of all time, and better yet, these are books kids love to read. What a great way to make learning about the real world fun and memorable at the same time. And how misleading to omit an entire genre of compelling, beautifully written and illustrated, meticulously vetted, totally accurate, and thoroughly entertaining books from an entire front-page article in one of America’s most prominent newspapers!
What’s more, the best of the best nonfiction books can easily be tied to every aspect of a school’s curriculum, from English to math to social studies and science, making cross-curriculum work a pleasure. In all probability, the reason you are reading this blog is because you already know about these books and might be a fan of the nonfiction authors who write for INK. But judging from the newspaper piece, there are plenty of educators out there who still don’t get it.
So would they like to check out some examples of great nonfiction literature for kids that's a perfect fit for CCSS? Sure, be my guest and make things easy….just send them here. Take a gander at the dust jackets of a bunch of INK’s award winning books. Then go to the top of the page, click on Find the Books, and sign into the free online database, where you can generate entire lists of books geared directly to any subject you have to teach - or for that matter, any subject your heart desires.