This week’s Kidlit Distancing Social is, as they say on TV, “ripped from the headlines!” 🙂


In January, when we saw that three top nonfiction kidlit authors – Jennifer Swanson, Melissa Stewart and Cynthia Levinson – had crafted a passionate rebuttal in the pages of Publishers Weekly to a Washington Post column that claimed “the books students choose to read are almost always fiction”, we were intrigued. (And so was the Post, who made the rare editorial decision to reprint the entire piece as a rebuttal to their own story.) These highly successful, award-winning authors mounted a full-throated defense of their genre – and they brought receipts. (You can read the piece here.)


We invited the trio to join us on this week’s Social to dig deeper into the subject, and talk about the growing significance of nonfiction and why – as they write – “the nonfiction books of today are not the textbooks of yesteryear”.



Here’s who you’ll meet:


Jennifer Swanson is an award-winning author of over 40+ books for kids, mostly about STEM and history. Her books have been recognized with multiple NSTA Best STEM book awards, selected for the Junior Library Guild, won a Florida Book Award and a Parent’s Choice Gold Award. She is also the creator of the STEM Tuesday blog, STEAMTeam Books, and has a podcast called Solve It! for Kids. You can learn more about her at


Melissa Stewart has written more than 180 science-themed nonfiction books for children, including the ALA Notable Feathers: Not Just for Flying, the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor title Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs, and Can an Aardvark Bark?Her highly-regarded website features a rich array of nonfiction writing resources.


Cynthia Levinson focuses on history and social justice. Her books have won awards and recognition from multiple national organizations, including the American Library Association, the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Junior Library Guild, the International Literacy Association, and the NAACP, among others. Her most recent book is a graphic novel, Fault Lines in the Constitution (First Second/Macmillan, 2020). Next up is a picture book biography of the artist Ben Shahn, called The People’s Painter (Abrams Books, 2021). Cynthia’s website is






Links Mentioned During the Social:


Jennifer Swanson:


STEM Tuesday: STEAMTeam Books: Solve It! for Kids:



From Cynthia Levinson:


Fault Lines in the Constitution Blog:


From Melissa Stewart:


Her blog post on the Five Kinds of Nonfiction with book lists (updated Dec. 2019):


Five Kinds of Nonfiction Series on Lerner Books Blog (Melissa’s classification system):



Other links:


“Hey Grownups! Kids Really Do Like Nonfiction” article from Publishers Weekly:


“Understanding Third-Person Point of View: Omniscient, Limited and Deep” by Tiffany Yates Martin on Jane Friedman’s blog.





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Click here to browse & watch previous episodes of the Social!



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