________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover Info-kids: How to Use Nonfiction to Turn Reluctant Readers into Enthusiastic Learners.

Ron Jobe & Mary Dayton Sakari.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2002.
128 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 1-55138-143-5.

Subject Headings:
Reading (Elementary).
Children-Books and reading.


Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4


Info-Kids have their own agenda, which is often different to the classroom's. Their inner rhythms, time schedules and interests do not easily fit with the classroom's set curriculum. We as teachers must accept these Info-kids as they are, recognize the validity of their passions and take an interest in their topics, rather than expect them to be interested in ours. Who knows? We might learn more than we bargained for ....... and feel better about our teaching too!"

It is always a pleasure to read a book on a topic that deserves greater attention, especially one that is well written, engaging and motivational.

     Many students are fascinated by nonfiction books, and the good news is that, today, publishers and writers have provided youngsters with innovative information books that are lively, provocative and stimulating. The authors' unique approach is to use these nonfiction resources to promote reading with reluctant students, who are the primary focus here, and include the obstacles they and their teachers face. Teachers are encouraged to determine and help develop the primary interests of Info-Kids and then capitalize on the interests of these students to enhance learning and literacy. An interesting challenge is posed by the authors - to design a "parallel curriculum" that meets the needs of students who have an attraction to facts and information and then to seek out content which intrigues students. This process will require teachers to be risk
takers, entrepreneurial, flexible and open-minded.

     The book is divided into three sections. Part A deals with the challenge of Info-kids and offers advice in starting with four outstanding resources that have great "kid appeal." Selection criteria and specific elements to look for in nonfiction books are also included. The authors emphasize the importance of teachers using nonfiction resources that are of high quality, up-to-date, and attractive; to use them often in the classroom; to match them to student interests; to encourage students to read these books during USSR; and to promote them in a read aloud program. This section also gives the reader insight as to who these Info-Kids are (defined by the authors as "students who are fascinated by facts.")

     Part B details creative strategies for working with eight different types of Info-Kids and includes several case studies that highlight their characteristics and interests, as well as the resources that might lead to success. Jobe and Sakari do a great job of matching different Info-Kids and their wide-ranging interests with specific books. Each of the eight chapters contains a boxed section entitled "Teacher Realities," and these are very helpful in pointing out the essential qualities and instructional strategies needed by teachers.

     Part C deals with a variety of evaluation techniques to determine the answer to the question, "Are kids reading?" The authors share "secrets of success." One such secret includes the importance of modeling.

     This book is a worthwhile resource that should have a place in all school libraries and should even be on a teacher's own personal book shelf. There are many reasons to highly recommend Info-Kids. The bibliographies of the recommended books are quite current, and many of the outstanding nonfiction books within each section are enthusiastically annotated. The sidebars are interesting and relevant, and they include quotes about nonfiction, comments from teachers, lists of important elements, and thought-provoking questions. The case for bringing "real world interests" into the classroom and using these interests as a tool for increasing literacy is compelling. The advice is timely and practical, and the strategies are creative and doable. The authors also connect technology and the reading of information books to high interest annotated internet sites, which the authors refer to as "cyberspace non-fiction books." Finally, Info-Kids is written in a pleasing, readable, and breezy style, with the authors' passion for their subject apparent on each page.

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is an Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364