How to Save School Libraries and Indie Bookstores and Prepare Our Kids for Standardized Tests
Melissa Stewart, award-winning author of over 100 non-fiction books for children writes in Celebrate Science:
Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
Let’s start with some background. About 80 percent of all children's nonfiction titles are sold to schools and libraries. This was great in the 1980s and 1990s when teachers were able to find lots of creative ways to integrate children’s literature into their lesson plans.
But then 2001 rolled around. That’s the year the No Child Left Behind Act was passed. And everything changed.
Suddenly educators had to teach to the test. They no longer had much time for creative teaching strategies, and they had to greatly reduce their use of trade books in the classroom.
The result is no surprise. Sales of nonfiction books have fallen significantly over the last decade. And in response, trade publishing houses have reduced their nonfiction lists on average 25 percent (and in some cases as much as 50 percent).
That’s a shame because trade nonfiction titles are meticulously researched and expertly crafted to delight as well as inform. They engage young readers in a way that text books and other standard teaching materials can’t.
Teachers know it.
Librarians know it.
We all know it.