Google Alert Rant: Children’s Nonfiction

Have you tried Google Alerts? I have been getting Google Alerts for a while now, all of them blog-related topics. Given my interest in “children’s nonfiction,” I chose that as an alert.

At first I thought probably it would be too broad an alert and I’d get dozens or maybe even hundreds of links. I figured I’d have to tweak it to make it manageable. As it turns out, I have gotten relatively few alerts, even though I know our community is actively blogging about children’s nonfiction. I began to wonder how are the blog posts chosen for alerts.

Today’s alert hit a new bottom. There was only one alert for “children’s nonfiction” this week, despite all the posts I know have been written. I don’t want to give this post any more traffic, but I know you’ll be curious and want to see it for yourself, so here’s the link. I am just so very, very sad that this is the only post chosen.

Do you know how Google chooses blog posts for its alerts? Do you think I’m missing the boat because most people choose to hyphenate non-fiction?

Books and the iGeneration

According to a recent newspaper article (see reference below), psychologist Larry Rosen of California State University-Dominguez Hills has defined a new generation of children in his upcoming book, Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn.

Rosen calls the technically savvy kids the “iGeneration,” with the “i” in this case standing for individualized. In the past media was generic and everyone watched or listened to the same limited offerings provided on television or the radio. In contrast, the youngest children have grown up with a plethora of choices. From the TV they watch to the music they download, the media they experience is all individualized to their specific, unique tastes.

The individualization doesn’t stop at media, either. What children experience and learn is also more personal.

” ‘They know almost every piece of information they want is at their disposal whenever they need it,’ [Dave] Verhaagen [a child and adolescent psychologist in Charlotte] says. ‘They’re less interested in learning facts and learning data than in knowing how to gain access to it and synthesize it and integrate it into their life.’ ”

If this statement is true, then it represents a huge challenge to those of us writing children’s nonfiction books. Not only do we need to present the facts in an entertaining way, but also make them more personal and relevant than ever before. On the other hand, the bit that children’s books do well is the synthesis of information, and we have to continue to make that a strength.

Although challenging, the extra effort will likely result in innovative and better quality books. I can’t wait to see where we go next.

What about you? What do you think about the idea of the iGeneration? How do you think it will change children’s books?

‘igeneration’ kids grow up techie
By Sharon Jayson, USA Today. Retrieved 2/27/10 from