I helped make the Elementary/Middle Grade Non-fiction list this year. These are some seriously good books, people. My two absolute favorites from the list are Locomotive by Brian Floca and The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman. I love the other ones, too though! Benjamin would also have me plug How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge.
Click here for the full list of Elementary/MG Non-fiction finalists (plus my mini-review of The Boy Who Loved Math)
Click here for the index of categories, so that you can see what else got a finalist spot. I will for sure be reading from these lists!
A person could get an excellent education in current children's literature by reading the books on these lists. They're the best of the year in terms of kid-appeal and literary merit (those are the Cybils criteria) as evaluated by book bloggers who read widely in their categories.
Doing non-fiction this year was awesome. I've long been a fan of juvenile non-fiction. Often I go to the children's non-fiction section first, when I want to learn about a topic. That's what I did when I thought my son Levi might have food allergies. Reading and skimming all the children's lit on the subject helped me get a handle on the basics and helped me figure out what I wanted to know. It brought my questions out.
I was gratified to hear from my fellow panelists that they were planning on loving not only the books that they were predisposed to love, but the books that brought their questions out -- that got them interested in topics they hadn't been interested in before.
Reading from the list of 95 nominees, knowing I'd have to read as many as I could and help narrow it down to only 7, it was super awesome to have Ellen, Carol, Mike, Amy, Franki and Alice telling me which ones they'd loved and pointing out the reasons why the books I didn't love intrinsically were actually worth loving.
I loved reading books like Locomotive and Look Up! and thinking, "This is children's non-fiction!? I have been missing out." I read 64 of the nominees between mid October and late December and I tell you what -- that is education by immersion.
So, where to from here? Well I can tell you I'll be browsing the J Non-Fic section more! And I've just got to get my thoughts about some of these books written down and shared with you. Are there any you want to hear about first?