Nonfiction Authors in Your Classroom

When I first clicked on the link for, I felt like I found gold. In our dis­trict we do the Lucy Calkin’s writ­ing pro­gram. In this pro­gram there is a large unit of non­fic­tion. I often strug­gle with unit because I strug­gle find­ing men­tor texts! Lis­ten­ing to the non­fic­tion sto­ries is genius! I lis­tened to sev­er­al of them, all with the dif­fer­ent authors and voic­es. Real­ly help­ful. I love this link and will be brows­ing through­out the year. This is how I describe non­fic­tion to my kids- “not a fairy­tale, not fake.” This web­site will come in handy!

Addi­tion­al­ly, I was hap­py to explore the I.N.K web­site. First, the acronym is won­der­ful (INK-inter­est­ing non­fic­tion for kids) because it is true! It is imper­a­tive that stu­dents have access to non­fic­tion texts. I like how INK is get­ting edu­ca­tors and par­ents excit­ed about non­fic­tion. Also, they have inter­est­ing books that teach­ers can use in their class­rooms and they have writ­ers who blog about up to date top­ics regard­ing Com­mon Core State Stan­dards and non­fic­tion texts. I liked explored the “Non­fic­tion Min­utes” sec­tion. They had a vari­ety of pod­casts about dif­fer­ent non­fic­tion con­cepts. I found one that was about a small jet fight­er plane that wore a “cos­tume” dur­ing World War II.  This book would be great to ref­er­ence when teach­ing stu­dents about World War II.

This week­end I attend­ed a book fair of over 90 authors in my town. As I was walk­ing around and look­ing at books, I noticed that all of the non­fic­tion authors had a brochure for the I.N.K. web­site. The pur­pose was to explain what I.N.K. is and adver­tise “The Non­fic­tion Minute”. I was hap­py to see that this won­der­ful resource was being shown to many adults and chil­dren.

In all my years as an edu­ca­tor, I must say that I.N.K. — The Non Fic­tion Minute’s archive of short non-fic­tion pieces that are writ­ten and nar­rat­ed by non­fic­tion writ­ers blew me away. I can­not wait to share this resource with my col­leagues. In an intro­duc­tion on the “For Teach­ers” page, Dr. Myra Zarnows­ki of Queens Col­lege gives sug­ges­tions of how to use these nuggets of non­fic­tion in the class­room.  “You get to know our authors so maybe you’ll get their books from the library. And it only takes a minute!” I loved watch­ing count­less video clips and how excit­ed these writ­ers and edi­tors were about their com­mit­ment to mak­ing using non­fic­tion text some­thing every­one can do! As a read­ing teacher, I can pull from these authen­tic texts and focus on key com­pre­hen­sion skills. I strong­ly believe the for­mat of these pas­sages will make my reluc­tant read­ers walk away with the five W’s and retain the infor­ma­tion they read.

Look­ing at the “Ink think tank” web­site I found so many use­ful things I could use in my class­room that I think would real­ly spark the inter­est of my stu­dents when it comes to non-fic­tion books. I espe­cial­ly liked the link to the “non-fic­tion minute”. On this web­site there are short non-fic­tion sto­ries about a vari­ety of top­ics. Stu­dents can look for ones that inter­est them by sub­ject and they can even lis­ten to the read­ings, which is fan­tas­tic for stu­dents that strug­gle with read­ing. Kids could spend a few class­es just get­ting immersed in the non-fic­tion genre by explor­ing this web­site and read­ing a few short sto­ries!


Oh my good­ness… I feel like I’ve struck gold with non­fic­tion!  I’m amazed at what I found there. I am work­ing on a unit about the Civ­il War and will be using this as a resource. It will be a won­der­ful addi­tion. I can’t wait to share it with col­leagues.


Teacher of 7 ELA at Mt. Sav­age Mid­dle School in Alle­gany Coun­ty, Mary­land.


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Here’s some good news for all of us who like to share nonfiction with kids. iNK Think Tank has made available a sneak peek of The Nonfiction Minute, a free website that consists of short nonfiction texts, plus illustrations, and audio recordings of the authors reading their own work. The website includes original work by authors as Vicki Cobb, Alexandra Siy, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, David Schwartz, Andrea Warren, and Cheryl Harness.  Wow! These are nonfiction heavy hitters! That means there are science, math and social studies texts all ready and waiting. This is the beginning of a gold mine of short examples of good writing that we can use for minilessons, introductions to these nonfiction writers and their work, and most importantly—for enjoyment. Dr. Myra Zarnowski, Nonfiction and the Uncommon Corps


How lucky we are to have this resource at our fingertips, a database of high-quality titles by some of the most talented authors and illustrators in the field of children's lit today! Teachers and librarians, do not miss this chance to bring such appealing titles to child readers.
—Julie Danielson ("Jules"), Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Wow! I got the inaugural INKThinkTank website- they have everyone who is anyone in juvenile nonfiction! What a great resource. I know I'll use it heavily in ordering books. I'm passing it along to everyone I know.
Susan Daole, Librarian Education Library University of Kentucky ...A worthy and timely project. Leonard Marcus, renowned children's book historian.

iNK THINK TANK fills an important gap in the world of reading and kids. Whether you are an educator, librarian or parent looking for engaging non-fiction books for kids, this is the place! And the incredible part is that the information in each listing can be presented to your students by the authors themselves. You can find books to feed a child’s passion, or thought-provoking information about the world of non-fiction books, including lots of suggested titles, for Pre-K through 12th grade in this one place.
—Cathy Puett Miller, President, TLA, Inc. AKA The Literacy Ambassador®


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