Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tanya Lee Stone - Saturday, September 28th - Nonfiction for Young Readers

On Saturday, September 28th, we're excited to kick off a great year of author talks for educators with Tanya Lee Stone. Please join us at 11:00 am in the Children's Room at Bear Pond Books. We'll be talking about how to write a compelling story while sticking to the facts, with a focus on works for elementary and middle school age children.

Last winter, authors Rebecca and Joshua Rupp presented a great talk on writing creative nonfiction, which they define as "nonfiction with personality" (notes from that talk are here).

On September 28th, we're returning to nonfiction with personality when author Tanya Lee Stone joins us with a talk on "A Fine, Fine Line." The title comes from a 2011 article she wrote on blurring (or, more accurately, not blurring) the line between fact and fiction.

Why is the line between fact and fiction so fine? Because writing a narrative is different from taking a true / false test. Authors need to convey not only that events happened, but also the emotion behind what happened and a storyline that draws readers into the history. The techniques of fiction writers help create the emotion, character and story. Sometimes, though, writers cross the line into fiction  - with dialogue that's imagined for the purpose of illustrating a point, emotions that are likely but not documented, opinions that are intuited but not cited. Okay, if you announce you're writing fiction, not okay, Tanya says, if you don't..

Tanya explains that strictly staying to fact means "If I write that Jerrie Cobb’s smile was tinged with sadness, the reader needs to know I do so with authority. That I have seen that smile or have some other documented knowing of it."

So, then, how does a nonfiction writer do the research needed to stand behind each word? And how does she craft a compelling tale that remains on the nonfiction side of the line?

As Tanya writes "We don’t need to manipulate the facts to be effective storytellers. We don’t need to invent to be inventive. The facts, in the right hands, are as entertaining as any fiction." Find out about her approach to research, writing and documenting history for young readers on September 28th at 11:00 am in the Children's Room. 

If you're interested in this topic, you might also be interested in these articles on historical fiction from our March, 2013, talk with Jenny Land and Natalie Kinsey Warnock.

For a follow up post on this event, click here to read "Using the Craft of Fiction to Tell Nonfiction Stories." And read about all Bear Pond Books events at our website

More Information on Tanya Lee Stone

Tanya Lee Stone is a former editor and the Robert F. Sibert Award–winning author of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Her most recent nonfiction book, Courage Has No Color, was almost a decade in the making, as she did extensive original research into the Triple Nickles, the U.S.'s first African-American paratroopers who fought in World War II. Her most recent picture book Who Says' Women Can't Be Doctors? was named one of the year's top 10 biographies by Booklist.

Some readers may also know Tanya from her 2010 book The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie, which won the Golden Kite Award. In all, she has written almost 100 books for kids.

Coming Up This Fall
In October we'll be inviting local authors in to talk about making the most of an author visit to your classroom. Stay tuned for the final date. Any good tips to share? Send them to helen.labun.jordan @ or via Twitter @BearPondBooks

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