Guest Blogger

#ALSC12 Closing session: Nonfiction Books for Kids with Bryan Collier, Doreen Rappaport, and April Pulley Sayre- and farewell!

Alas, I had to leave to catch my flight home before the end of the closing session. My travel companion had to tug me out the door as I hung back to catch just a few more words from April Pulley Sayre, who was still speaking. I didn’t get to hear Bryan Collier at all 🙁

BUT! What I did get to hear was great! Doreen Rappaport captivated us with snippets of stories from her historical nonfiction. She told us that she never fictionalizes the historical events and people in her books- everything she writes is based on painstaking research with first-person accounts and other primary sources. For Beyond Courage: the Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust, she was able to locate and interview three surviving Jewish Holocaust resisters to get their stories, and verify the accuracy of what she wrote. “This was a BIG book!” she told us of the immense amount of work involved. “I’m not doing another book this big!”

April Pulley Sayre writes nature books, and she mostly focuses on nonfiction read-alouds. Even though many of her books are for young children, she avoids anthropomorphizing her subjects and is always careful to represent the real, natural behaviors of animals. Real nature is rich enough: “It’s tactile, warm detail that makes nonfiction come alive,” she told us. Looking at her amazing books, I can definitely see that.

Just as I was being tugged unwillingly out the door, Ms. Sayre was describing something really neat: a “Story Walk.” To make one, you cut apart a picture book (there were soft gasps from the roomful of librarians), and mount the pages as signs along an outdoor trail. This blends story, art, and outdoor green spaces. One of my library’s branches is beside a public walking trail- I hope we can do this!

So now I’m sitting at a gate in the Indianapolis Airport, among some other travellers wearing cardigans & carrying tote bags that look suspiciously full of books. I’m glad to head home and get hold of my colleagues to share all the cool ideas I’m bringing back, and glad to see my dog and sleep in my own bed. But I’m sad too that ALSC Instutute has to end. It’s been an energizing, inspiring, idea-sharing fabulous time! Thanks a million to the ALSC staff and the Institute Task Force and the presenters and everyone else who made it happen for us. To those following along at home: if you ever get the chance to come to an ALSC Institute in the future, DO IT!

One comment

  1. Trista Kunkel

    Our library just put up our very first StoryWalk and it’s been a big hit! The only snag we’ve encountered has been with some vandals who decided to break some of our stakes. I would TOTALLY recommend doing this!

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