Great Author Websites: Nonfiction
With the Common Core State Standards and its emphasis on nonfiction resources for the classroom, teachers and librarians can benefit from the extra resources available on the internet from acclaimed nonfiction authors. In this ongoing series from Bound to Stay Bound, we focus on three high-profile nonfiction authors who can truly be partners through a virtual presence: Doreen Rappaport, Marc Aronson, and Seymour Simon.
Doreen Rappaport's site (doreenrappaport.com) greets the visitor with these words: "I want to write stories that empower kids to know that other people empowered themselves. If I have a mission, that's my mission!" She finds subjects and situations that bring out the best of people in the worst of times, helping young readers build those connections and drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mouse over the "Kid's Connect" tab to see a link to "Study Guides" and find links and downloads of extensive resources for her books that include all the usual elements of discussion questions, activities, author interviews, and bibliographies plus ways to use the books across the curriculum. In addition to the more formal guides, a link to "Doreen's Study Guides" provides a set of discussion questions for each Rappaport book. The "Kids Connect" tab leads to more than just inspiration for teachers, however. Click on "About Kids Connect" to see where kids are inspired to find the links between art, poetry and history. In partnership with behindthebook.org, you can see the creative output of Class 4-301 of C.S. 21 in New York City as they engaged with No More: Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance and Escape from Slavery. While not everyone can participate in Behind the Book, a creative teacher or librarian can draw inspiration from the work displayed. http://doreenrappaport.com/kids-connect/
Though Marc Aronson has recently appeared as one of our Featured Authors at http://www.btsb.com/libcorner/featured/about/index.php?name=Marc_Aronson, any article on excellent nonfiction author websites would be incomplete without the award-winning Aronson who has become the go-to guy on all things Common Core. Whether you are immersed in CCSS or are just beginning to dig in, marcaronson.com can be both a kind and helpful guide. The home page navigation bar includes links to his blog and to the Common Core while the sub-navs highlight free teaching resources plus links to his books grouped by age.
If you are working with a middle school audience, you will want to dive right in and click on the video link under "5 Nonfiction U.S. History Books for Middle Graders." There, you find a book talk by the author where he discusses what history is and why it's important in an enlightening and engaging way. Then, Aronson does something virtually unprecedented in author websites--the author of Master of Deceit and Race discusses other people's books including Jim Murphy's An American Plague. He talks not only about the subject of the book but also the choices the authors and publishers made in creating a book. On the Common Core page, a video from the Reading Rockets website features the Common Core guru talking about his approach and includes a link to his "Consider the Source" column in School Library Journal. Click on "Free Teaching Guides" to find not only what you expect but also a bit more--images of primary source materials are there for the taking--a veritable treasure trove ranging from newspaper images to documents to historical photographs. http://www.marcaronson.com/common_core/
Both kids and adults will want to bookmark seymoursimon.com so that they can look up science words, find help with experiments, or check out his always-entertaining blog. The author of more than 250 books was honored with a Webby for this visually fun yet informative site. Note that you must register to use the site but there is no fee involved. A quick confirmation email gives you a link directly back to the site within a couple of moments.
And what will you find there? Take a look at Teacher Guides and you'll also find something extra: a downloadable guide on writing nonfiction that speaks directly to the CCSS. The guides cover everything from butterflies to the universe and embedded live links provide gateways to even more information. Click on the tab for Kids and check out the Free Stuff including a science project on "Life in a Rotting Log" and trading cards. Use the "Look up a science word" link for a short definition, often accompanied by a photograph. A dropdown under "Books" reveals several Simon series, books on Science Projects and even a list of his books available in Spanish. http://www.seymoursimon.com/index.php/science_dictionary/oil_pollution_/
Think of great nonfiction author websites as a way to ensure a friend is with you as you navigate the CCSS and ensure that the young people in your life find nonfiction as enthralling, challenging, and enlightening as fiction. This goal is made all the more possible with authors Doreen Rappaport, Marc Aronson and Seymour Simon as your guides.
Many more nonfiction authors can be found among the over 800 author websites included in the Links section of our website, http://www.btsb.com/libcorner/links/index.php