Category Archives: For Kids

Surging into Nonfiction!

The last few months have been a whirlwind of events for me. I’ve attended three different conferences, where I either presented or attended workshops — all about nonfiction. Why? Nonfiction is HOT right now.  That’s great for those of us who read it and even better for those of us who write it.

Why is nonfiction such a hot topic? That’s easy.  Between the state standards, the Common Core, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),  publishers are looking to add lots of nonfiction to their lists.  They are searching for everything from picture book to YA, in the categories of history, biography, science, technology, nature, and much, much more.

Looking to find some great nonfiction books? Check out these awards:

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children http://www.ncte.org/awards/orbispictus

 

The book that won this year’s award was:
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade)
Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs at once an intimate portrait of Russia’s last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (“Amelia Lost”;” The Lincolns”) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia’s poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

 

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal winner for 2015 was:
The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant (Eerdmans BFYR)

2015 Caldecott Honor Book2015 Sibert Medal Winner2015 Orbis Pictus Honor BookFor shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions — and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time. Readers of all ages will marvel at Roget’s life, depicted through lyrical text and brilliantly detailed illustrations. This elegant book celebrates the joy of learning and the power of words.

NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for 2015. This is a pretty comprehensive list of some awesome science books! I will include just a few below, but for all, check out the website here:

 

http://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/ostb2015.aspx
Batman Science: The Real-World Science Behind Batman’s Gear (DC Super Heroes) by Tammy Enz

When it comes to fighting crime, technology is Batmans greatest weapon. From his gadget-packed Utility Belt to his high-tech Batmobile, the Dark Knight tackles Gothams criminal underworld. But does any of his gear have a basis in reality? Or is it merely the stuff of fiction? Batman Science uncovers the real-world connections to Batmans techand much of it will surprise you!

 

 
Bone Collection: Skulls by Camilla de la Bédoyère (Scholastic)

BONE COLLECTION: SKULLS is follow-up to the beautiful book BONE COLLECTION: ANIMALS. This spectacular collection of awesome skulls will take a closer look inside some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. Learn what an animal’s skull can tell us about how each creature lives. Discover the narwhal, the unicorn of the sea. Marvel at how a hippo’s eyeballs nearly pop out of its head. Take a look at the rhinoceros’ enormous beak. Featuring the skulls of pythons, piranhas, rams, bears and more, readers will be amazed by the wide variety of skulls in the animal kingdom.

Where does one go to find out more about  the type of nonfiction books coming out or how to learn how to write fabulous nonfiction?

Check out some conferences!  Many regional and even the national SCBWI conferences are including nonfiction workshops these days.  To find one look here:  https://www.scbwi.org/

 

The Highlights Foundation offers conferences about nonfiction. In fact, I just conducted one at the beginning of the month.

http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/

 

And finally, one of the best conferences (in my opinion) to attend to learn about nonfiction — if you are a teacher, librarian, or aspiring writer, is

the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference.  http://21cnfc.com/index.html

I went this past June and it was FANTASTIC!  With industry professionals from over 28 organizations including publishers, librarians, the NSTA, Bank Street College, and many more, there is something for everyone.

The conference was a great way to connect with editors, educational professionals, and other authors. Workshops on craft and writing were timely, interesting and fun.  They even had intensives for more in-depth learning and also open table discussions to promote exchange of information between authors and editors.

 

++++ Talk about perfect timing, Publisher’s Weekly just discussed the Surge in Nonfiction in one of their articles yesterday. It is titled “Is Children’s Nonfiction Having its Moment?”  The answer is YES!!

You can read the article here: http://www.publishersweekly.com

It is easy to find ways to “Surge into Nonfiction” all you have to do is to look!

Feel free to share below any other great nonfiction books or nonfiction events in your area. Let’s keep this nonfiction vibe going!!

 

****

Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 25 books for children. A self-professed science geek, when not writing, she can be found trolling through the internet searching for cool science discoveries and experiments.  Learn more about Jennifer at her website:  www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com

 

 

Prepare to Shiver!

serafina

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina venture into  the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

SERAFINA’s author, Robert Beatty, lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore the grand Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place.   Answering a question about the inspiration for his book, Robert said, “Serafina’s journey grew out of my desire to write a story about an unusual and heroic young girl for my three daughters.”

You  can win a copy, as well as some creepily delicious swag

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

by leaving a comment below. Only readers from North America are eligible.

KidLit Summer School

klss-2015-badge

Artwork by Joyce Wan

Summer school? Ugh. Who wants to be stuck indoors while everyone else is playing outside in the sunshine. Missing picnics, pools, parties, and fun.

But what if you could hang out with the cool kids and have some real fun? What if you could do something you’ve always dreamed of doing – write a book?

Here’s your chance to learn from a strong line-up of multi-published children’s authors, editors, and agents. Best of all, these summer workshops are FREE. Beginning July 20, 2015, visit KidLit Summer School for posts filled with information on how to write children’s books.

This summer the focus is on plotting. You’ll have an opportunity to try a variety of plotting tricks and techniques for different genres. Learn how published authors stay motivated, come up with ideas, and turn those ideas into finished stories. Each post will have plotting secrets as well as exercises you can try. And best of all, KidLit Summer School will be giving away plenty of prizes — autographed books, professional critiques, and swag. Check out each post for the special giveaways.

Here are some of the faculty members with a quick peek at only one of their books, but there are plenty more—books and authors. If you sign up, you’ll see the list of all the wonderful teachers before opening day.

Learn from authors Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Kami Kinard, Marcie Colleen, Dawn Young, Leeza Hernandez, Joyce Wan, John Claude Bemis, Janice Hardy, Laurie J. Edwards, Megan Miranda, Tammi Sauer, Tracey Baptiste, Amy Dominy, Jen Malone, Courtney Pippin Mathur, Heidi Schulz, and Lisa Lewis Tyre.

Agents and editors who are participating include Rotem Moscovich, Jenne Abramowitz, Sean McCarthy, and Marie Lamba.

KidLit copy

Sound like fun? Here’s the link to sign up.

And if you don’t want to wait until the 20th to work on your writing, check out last year’s blog posts on characterization here. Scroll down to last summer’s lessons. It’s a great way for writers of any age to improve their writing craft over the summer.

About the Author

Laurie J. Edwards loves summer school so much she’s spending 6 weeks at Hollins University’s MFA program in Children’s Writing and Illustrating as well a participating in the KidLit Summer School as a faculty member. She’s looking forward to her five book releases in August and September: Her Cold Revenge (Switch Press), The Forget-Me-Not Keeper (illustrations, written by Susanna Leonard Hill), Imperial China, West African Kingdoms,  & Ancient Egypt (Cengage). Read more about Laurie and her books on her blog, her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@LaurieJEdwards).