Mona Voelkel

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“Empower children and show them their voices matter.”

Patricia Newman

“…ignite a sense of wonder about things we don’t understand and convey it’s okay not to know. It would show that we all have a role to play that, we are a functional, important part of the vastness.”

Seth Fishman

Perhaps we don’t choose to write a story, including a nonfiction story, perhaps the story chooses us. I recently participated in a book club for adult writers where we read and discussed this wonderful book over the course of many weeks. It was particularly striking how passionate each author was about their subject matter and the extensive research each did to make their story come alive. Nonfiction is not just the facts, although the facts matter, but the story. In essay after essay, authors stressed how their personal connections informed the writing. Whether they were writing the book so they could finally see someone who looked like them in a book, heal, share pain or wonder, right wrongs and/or make the world a better place, it was personal connections that made each of their picture books book so memorable.

As a practical guide for the student or adult nonfiction writer, NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP offers advice from authors, gorgeous mentor texts and exercises to prompt ideas (including theme), revision and connection. I especially love the four questions Melissa Stewart has students ask after the research has been completed:

  1. This idea gives me….
  2. I was surprised to learn….
  3. This makes me think….
  4. This is important….

I also learned from this book how important it is to pause after research and ask, “How do I personally connect to these facts? What am I still wondering? What is emotionally wowing me?” Michelle Markel reminds the writer to seek out the “expressive, artistic, poetic” in the writing.

One comment from a fellow book club member really captured the heart of the book for me: “Art comes from the collection of stories that we carry.” When those stories meet facts, authors craft books that move readers.

This is a book that I will return to again and again for its warmth and wisdom.

Here is the launch video:

Melissa Stewart’s blog: Celebrate Science:

and website



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