Aug 6, 2014

Calling All Teachers: Support Teachable Moments!

No matter where you come down in the debates about  Common Core State Standards, every one who cares about kids and literacy knows this:

Books matter, 
and the quality of those books matters even more. 

Whether you're new to this blog or a loyal reader, my reasons for creating this blog arose from my deep commitment to helping anyone find and use the best picture books available. I advocated for the use of non-fiction picture books long before this CCSS debate began, and my three years of blog posts feature as many or more non-fiction titles as fiction. I've also spread the word from my tiny little platform about the value of a blog written by a list of award-winning non-fiction picture book authors, I. N. K. - Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. 

It has served the public for several years and continues to offer some of the best archives, links, and resources you'll find anywhere. As times change, though, so have the scope and intent of these authors. Common Core (and its related VERY costly testing demands) have played a role in this change. 

Authors always offered school visits, and I was lucky enough to coordinate visits for my school with INK-authors David M. Schwartz and Vicki Cobb. I'd have invited each and every one of them visit my school, but funds didn't stretch that far. These days, funds for school visits may not even exist, in part due to those testing costs.

How ironic is that? Just when national mandates are  shifting the attention of families and educators to non-fiction content, the funding to generate the excitement and interest of author visits all but disappeared. In addition, time constraints of frequent high-stakes testing and emphasis on "snapshot" scores meant each and every minute in the classroom was tightly scripted, limiting (or removing entirely) the spontaneity of pursuing "teachable moments" in the  school day. 

Several authors launched an alternative approach to sharing quality nonfiction books with kids through an outreach approach, iNK Think Tank!

I'm excited to share their latest news, a daily dose of "Teachable Moments" available in classrooms, beginning this September!

Here's a message about this incredibly important resource directly from Vicki Cobb:

 The Nonfiction Minute is a FREE daily post of original nonfiction pieces--250-400 words long by the award-winning nonfiction authors of iNK Think Tank.  The posts are being edited by Jean Reynolds, founder and former publisher of Millbrook Press.  You can preview them by following the link above.  September 8, is the official launch date. The preview posts, will be returned to the inventory to be repbulished later.and a new post will be published every school day. All published posts from that point on will be archived and easily accessible.

With the current emphasis on reading nonfiction, educators need easy access to high-quality material that they can use right away.  The Nonfiction Minute does this consistently on a daily basis; but it also does more.  It is a source for finding even more high-quality literature by these award-winning authors.  It is a direct link to longer-form books, essential for inquiry-driven learning across the curriculum.  It fosters and feeds curiosity, provides samples of exemplary writing from many voices, presents content and process in many disciplines, and can awaken a love for learning.  It creates the possibility that kids want to follow-up on the openings provided by The Nonfiction Minute for more than the brief time it’s in the spotlight on any school day.
What is newsworthy about this project? Never before have top children's authors organized to work directly with teachers and students to inspire them with the love of learning that drives them. 
Back to my own words:
Here's the good news: this project is being crowd-sourced, designed, and delivered by the very people who produce the best non-fiction books you'll find. To make this happen I'm asking you to support their funding. Every single dollar counts. Here's more information about how to proceed:
Yesterday was the launch of their Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for The Nonfiction Minute.  Click here for the Indiegogo page for their campaign. If you believe in what they're doing, a small contribution is all you need to do to help get the ball rolling. 
This is the first (and probably only) time I'll use this blog to solicit financial support for anything, and this one isn't for me. Please consider participating- with a donation, by spreading the news, and by giving this a try in your own classrooms.
It's for the kids. 
For the teachers. 
For the future.


  1. Thanks so much, Sandy, for spreading the word about our project. All our authors believe passionately in the importance of reading and learning for children in today's world, and we believe that by presenting them with a quality tidbit of nonfiction writing every school day morning, we will help inspire their love of learning a curiosity about the amazing world we all live in.

  2. Dorothy, thanks for stopping by, and for your participation in this terrific resource. My support is only a small pebble in the big effort you're all making, but I'll toss it out there and repeat it as often as possible. keep up the good work- kids DESERVE to learn for the sake of curiosity and excitement!

  3. As on the the authors who will contribute to The Nonfiction Minute, I appreciate your support. I'm excited that students all across the country will have fascinating short pieces of nonfiction available to them every day.

  4. Carla, thank YOU for helping to make this important (and GIGANTIC) project possible. Your comment reminds me it's about time I reminded folks of this request via social media. Fingers crossed for wonderful success, and thanks for stopping by the post.


Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.