Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gathering Boosts Non-Fiction Kids Books

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gathering Boosts Non-Fiction Kids Books

Article excerpt

When editors, authors, illustrators and teachers get together at this weekend's three-day non-fiction children's book conference, there is no doubt the Common Core guidelines will come up more than once. At these workshops, presentations and consultations, the discussion, however, won't be about the merits of the controversial educational standards.

What the implementation of the Common Core has unquestionably done is brought non-fiction books out from the largely ignored shelves in the children's section of the library and bookstore, according to some in the publishing industry. The standards require "informational" reading and that children seek more than one book on a subject, which has meant children are reading more non-fiction books than in the past.

"Whether people embrace the Common Core or don't - one thing that Common Core actually brought to light [is] non-fiction is important," said Rutherford resident Emily Easton, executive editor for Crown Books for Young Readers at Random House, who will be speaking at the conference. "Kids actually like it and that it needs to be part of everybody's general reading. I think that's not going to go away even if Common Core does go away."

Fiction has long ruled the children's book world, in the libraries, bookstores and classrooms. Conferences for children's book authors were much the same. After one such conference focused on fiction a few years ago, non-fiction publisher and author Lionel Bender went to Sally Isaacs with an idea.

Why not create a conference just for non-fiction children's writers, he asked the Oradell resident and children's non-fiction book author. She and Bender created the 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference, which will hold its third year of presentations, workshops and consultations this weekend.

This conference is not just for authors; it is for everyone engaged in the world of non-fiction children's books, including illustrators, publishers, teachers and librarians.

"It brings together people who don't normally get together to talk," said Isaacs. "It's an interesting conversation between the publisher who prepares the books and the teachers who use it and the authors who are writing it. I love it that it has so many different facets woven together."

Isaacs is an author of 50 illustrated children's non-fiction books and has worked on textbooks and workbooks, consumer products for Highlights for Children, assessment materials for Educational Testing Service and website content for Huntington Learning Center.

Isaacs and Bender began this conference at a critical time in publishing, with the digital revolution and educational implementation of Common Core standards across the country, according to Isaacs. These educational guidelines are creeping into the writing process, Isaacs admitted. …

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