professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Making the simple more complex

My head hurts. I just read a sample chapter from a forthcoming book on nonfiction. Since it relates to CCSS, it is, of course, rife with all manner of jargon and chock full of activities from anchor texts to guiding questions, etc. While I am not stating that nonfiction is a simple genre, it is much more simple than the author leads teachers to believe. Part of that is the use of the term genre. Genres here are defined as categories of nonfiction that are divvied up by their purpose. So, NF that describes is its own genre. NF that explains is another. And on it goes. And so the the author acknowledges her list of genre might not be complete. Hey, NF might be used to entertain. So, add that genre to your list. I am restraining myself from tearing out my hair because I love the color it is now. Seriously, the confusion this chapter caused me is deep. I can only imagine what will happen when we use the author's terms with kids.

I am in the middle of preparing a preconference on NF for the YALSA Symposium in Austin in November. Karin Perry and I will present along with Steve Sheinkin, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Kelly Milner Halls. I suspect I could make the part Karin and I are doing incredibly complicated. Instead, we are focusing on a brief history of the genre (term used correctly here), some of the leading resources and awards for NF, plus some ideas on using NF within libraries and classrooms. But then I am not trying to sell materials; I am attempting to provide information (guess that makes my "genre" according to this author "explaining nonfiction"). And this blog post could be "explaining nonfiction" or could be "persuading nonfiction." It could also be "describing nonfiction." And herein lies a problem. Literature is not this nice, neat, easy to categorize thing. Nothing is cut and dried, not even the meaning, hidden or otherwise. And that is the subject of another presentation I am preparing for NCTE (and another blog post). Proclaiming that purpose is more important than form, format, content, organization, accuracy, audience, and the like is just simply wrong.

Happy Sunday, everyone. I am wishing you a day that is simple and enjoyable, and that involves books and reading. If it is NF, I expect youth be able to label purpose, form, format, etc.
Tags: ccss, idiocy, money makers
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