Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: No apologizing for Nonfiction

Last week, I did an open letter to librarians, booksellers, and teachers about sharing our enthusiasm for nonfiction with others, particularly the librarians and booksellers who get nonfiction into the hands of teachers and children. You can read the post here.

This week, I would like to continue talking about how we advocate for nonfiction. I want to focus on why we should not apologize for nonfiction and why we should not make excuses for a nonfiction format such as comic books or graphic novels or even picture books. Yes, I am “preaching to the choir” to many of you reading this post. However, I want to draw everyone’s attention to how we frame nonfiction when we are talking about it.

Even in 2019, we still have parents and educators who believe that picture books or graphic novels are not credible formats for children especially for those in 3rd grade and up. At times, I want to scream. As adults, how many of us read nonfiction texts that have no images (photographs, charts, illustrations, etc). Even a text heavy narrative nonfiction biography or history subject matter will often include photographs or illustrations. So, why do some adults think children shouldn’t have visuals in nonfiction? I learn as much from the illustrations and other text features as I do from the text in a nonfiction picture book or comic book. The way we change the minds of educators and parents is simply by getting books into their hands. In many of the trainings I have done for teachers, I build in time for them to browse through all kinds of nonfiction books. As little as 30 minutes can be mind-changing for a teacher who might not be aware of what’s between the covers of a children’s nonfiction book. This is especially critical for the format of a comic book or graphic novel. If I book talk a book or loan a book to a teacher, there is no guarantee that they will take the time to actually read the book. We all know how busy teachers are. However, when we build in time for teachers to browse books and read parts of them during a training or at a staff meeting, we have a much greater chance of getting them to see the amazing variety of topics, styles in writing, challenging concepts and vocabulary, and high interest nonfiction books that are available for today’s readers.

Kids love nonfiction and it’s about time that we share that same enthusiasm for nonfiction that it deserves.

And to celebrate some nonfiction graphic novels released this year…

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Science Comics: Cats: Nature and Nurture by Andy Hirsch, Introduction by Mikel Delgado (First Second, August 13, 2019)

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Science Comics: Cars: Engines That Move You by Dan Zettwoch (First Second, May 28, 2019)

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Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, Illustrated by Whitney Gardner (Simon & Schuster, November 5, 2019)

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Hawking by Jim Ottaviani, Illustrations by Leland Myrick (First Second, July 2, 2019)

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Look for all of these at your local indie bookstore or community library.

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Don’t forget to link up your nonfiction reviews….