I read Georgia Heard's Finding the Heart of Nonfiction about a month ago, and I have been planning to write a Monday post really detailing some of the important points of this book. However, I shared it with one of my teachers who has been reading it as she is teaching our informational writing unit. Per teachers' requests, I have ordered copies for each school and I keep hearing from teachers about how much they are enjoying and using it as they are teaching nonfiction writing units. I love that my teachers don't want to give up their copies of this book, but I don't want to wait longer on this post because I know so many people have moved into teaching nonfiction writing by this time of the year.
Without getting too specific, Finding the Heart of Nonfiction moves writers away from encyclopedia-like informational writing to more, for lack of better word right now, artistic informational writing. For example, Georgia Heard points out that you can learn about a tarantula from an encyclopedia article or from a narrative paragraph such as one that Jean Craighead George would have written; the narrative would be much more likely to have impact and be remembered.
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction is full of specific lessons designed for workshop instruction and full of specific references and incredible mentor texts. I can't imagine that any elementary or middle school teacher wouldn't be inspired by Georgia Heard!
Along much sillier lines, I picked up a copy of The Klutz Book of Brilliantly Ridiculous Inventions by John Cassidy and Brendan Boyle at the Scholastic warehouse sale. I was thinking that I would give it to one of my nephews for Christmas because he is always making stuff, but my whole family has been previewing it. We have had a lot of laughter and conversations inspired by some of the inventions. How about "Beeping Back-up Shoes?" Or, "The Double Barreled Peanut Butter Jar"--who hasn't gotten peanut butter on their knuckles trying to get to the last of the peanut butter? I love that this book has my youngest daughter reading out loud to us and getting us all to notice our world harder, thinking about inventions that could make our daily lives easier. It's a great book for creating and inspiring innovators!