In order to make the difference between fiction and nonfiction simple for my students, I have been guilty of saying that fiction is something that the author invents and that nonfiction is factual information. After reading 1968 edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti, I won’t be using that simplistic explanation anymore. In their introduction, Mr. Aronson asserts, “the heart of nonfiction is thinking: making a contention, a case, a story” (viii). Nonfiction is much more than a collection of facts. Two authors could state the same facts and end with entirely different conclusions based on how these facts are presented, organized, and interpreted.
This book is made up of a collection of nonfiction essays about the year 1968. Most of the authors were alive at this time and many of them write autobiographical accounts of their experiences during this globally turbulent year. Others write about events that they did not experience personally, but that they have carefully and meticulously researched. The essays range from stories of long-distance bike trips and their life-altering impact to accounts of the Prague Spring and its role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Kekla Magoon writes of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy while David Lubar writes of stand-up comics and how they addressed social and political policies of their time.
This book is not particularly long (the essays end on page 161), but it is somehow epic in its scope. The authors capture the passion and pain of 1968 in a way that speaks to readers today. Middle school and high school teachers who are covering history and social change, point of view, or nonfiction text structures, will find a great deal to talk about with this book.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Diversity 8: I am curious and want to know more about other people’s histories and lived experiences, and I ask questions respectfully and listen respectfully and non-judgmentally.
Justice 15: I know about some of the people, groups and events in social justice history and about the beliefs and ideas that influenced them.
Action 20: I will work with friends, family, and community members to make our world fairer for everyone, and we will plan and coordinate our actions in order to achieve our goals.
RI.3- Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
RI.6- Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
RI.9- Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
RH.5- Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
RH.8- Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.