Nonfiction Roots

Salutations! Spring makes me think of Charlotte’s Web, which makes me think of the best children’s literature of all time, which all leads me to why I’m here at Lerner. That might sound contrived, but please bear with my ramblings for a moment. I’ve recently been bestowed with the helm of Lerner Publications, the nonfiction flagship of Lerner Publishing. Having long respected the work of this company, it’s naturally a thrill to become an official part of its team. But more than that, I’m excited to be working on quality content that will get into the minds of learners, of readers who want answers to their “whys?”

Growing up on a farm, I had the freedom to explore the natural environment (which evoked a lot of “whys?” and “what is thats?”) and also the freedom to lounge about with books for hours on end. I read sitting in the crooks of tree branches, on the tops of hay bales, in the loft of the sheep barn. To me, Charlotte’s Web was nearly nonfiction. I was living the life that bubbled up on those pages.

But what really occurred in my brain at that age was a connection with language—with well-crafted, creative words and true-to-(my)-life scenarios. Language is a means to answers—and answers feel like power. And power is a fun, curious, strange thing to have when you’re eight years old and you have so many questions.

And what better way to answer those questions than with nonfiction? As a child, my adults often steered my questions toward our vast World Book set or to the stacks of National Geographic magazines hastily “archived” around the house. I spent hours among those informative pages. Perhaps as an adult, that’s why editing and writing nonfiction has always felt so natural to me. Working on nonfiction is an opportunity to dig into the fascinating facts of our world, our surroundings—our humanity—and try to answer some of my adult whys and lingering childhood what’s-thats.

I’ll be heading back to the farm this weekend, where a lot can be seen in spring: new life, freshly turned soil, excitement for a new season, trepidation for the elements, and always, the potential for growth. And for me, that’s what quality nonfiction is, ultimately: the potential for growth. I look forward to growing with the Lerner team and to helping answer your readers’ whys. So bring it on. What have you read recently that helped grow your mind? What are your readers asking about? I’d love to know.

Happy spring reading, everyone!

4 thoughts on “Nonfiction Roots

  1. Sara Hoffmann

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more that nonfiction offers fantastic potential for growth. I just finished reading Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs—an author who basically lives nonfiction by doing things like reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a quest to become the smartest person alive, and then writing about it. In Drop Dead Healthy, he follows various health experts’ advice to the letter in a hilarious, yet earnest, attempt to become über healthy. I picked up lots of great tips…and also laughed a lot! Just another example of how nonfiction helps us grow.

  2. Patricia Stockland

    So true, Sara! Drop Dead Healthy just caught my eye yesterday at the airport, too. It's so great to travel and see (a lot of) people engaged in reading nonfiction.

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