April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Outside Our Comfort Zones: Editorial | Series Made Simple Fall 2014

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Illustrations by Wesley Bedrosian.

Illustrations by Wesley Bedrosian.

In looking over the vast array of series nonfiction this season, one of my biggest challenges was categorization. Does a set on STEM occupations fit into a piece on science or into one on careers? Would a series on fitness work with health and wellness titles, or is it better suited for sports?

Mahnaz DarWhat initially appeared to be an obstacle, however, turned out to be the hallmark of these materials. So many of these titles defy classification because they encompass a variety of topics, compelling us to make interdisciplinary connections and think outside the box.

Cavendish Square’s “Writers and Their Times” transcends the tried-and-trued formula of biography, bypassing a cut-and-dry chronological format for richer and more nuanced looks at the lives of writers, an examination of their historical contexts, and analyses of their pivotal works. Similarly, ABDO’s “Great Achievements in Engineering” isn’t simply a useful STEM set—along with the science, readers can expect a dollop of career information and even a soupcon of history. And for a powerhouse blend of science and humanities, try Powerkids Press’s “How Animals Shaped History.”

These series outdo themselves, setting new standards when it comes to looking at quality nonfiction series. On a similar note, both publishers and our reviewers are raising awareness of a new and significant criterion for judging nonfiction: the issue of inclusivity. Diversity is constantly on our minds, from the subject matter of the sets to something as simple as photographs depicting children and adults of color, equitable gender representation, and a variety of physical abilities. Always sensitive to key trends and issues, our SMS writers draw attention to titles excelling in this arena.

As we delve deeper into the world of nonfiction, we hope to push ourselves constantly, always looking not only for new materials but for new benchmarks and yardsticks, too. We can’t stop—we won’t stop.


Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com),
Editor of Series Made Simple
Associate Editor for School Library Journal
Twitter @DibblyFresh.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.