I listened to the winner of the 2012 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD by Steve Sheinkin. Now, I do not normally gravitate toward biographies, especially biographies of this type. Nor do I seek out books about history, American or otherwise. However, not only was this an award winning book (and Jennifer Huber Swan and her committee had a FABULOUS shortlist and winner), but I realized that I do not listen to much in terms of nonfiction. So, in my effort to READ OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE, I plugged this one in on the drive home.
I was instantly transported back to pre-Revolutionary War days and the need for leaders who could win important battles as America fought for her independence. I knew little about Benedict Arnold save what is highlighted in the average textbook. And now I know more, and somehow this person whose name is synonymous with traitor and treason is more than that stereotype. As a matter of fact, the connection I made was between Benedict Arnold and Jeffrey Dahmer. If you have read MY FRIEND DAHMER, a GN about the famed serial killer, see if you can make the connection as you read or listen to BENEDICT ARNOLD.
And here is what I want, then, for our students: open roads. By that I mean the ability to explore books on their own, to self-select and explore. And if they have open roads and open minds, think of all the new connections, the new snapses. Think of the newly creative thoughts that might spring in the minds of our readers.