Pairing fiction and nonfiction texts with the help of digital tools


Teachers love fiction books because they are engaging and fun to read. Students enjoy fiction books for the same reasons. BUT nonfiction books can be just as engaging and fun to read. Fiction books can be used as the “hook” to draw students in to learn about information found in science, social studies, and math.  Sprinkle in digital tools and now you have the recipe for understanding! Students make connections when information is presented in a way that is engaging, interesting, and relevant. Check out this article by Kelly Walsh on for resources and further information on pairing texts and digital tools.

Rourke can help you find pairings too! Friends (ISBN 9781618101297) and Who’s Right (ISBN 9781618101907) addresses social skills for students in preschool through grade 2.

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Little Birdie Fiction












Hello. My Name Is…


Greetings! My name is Jenny Meyer and I am the newest addition to the Rourke team. My role at Rourke is to make the curriculum connections to our titles. I have a Master’s degree in Teaching and five years of teaching experience ranging from special education classes to general education classes. My goal is to help educators find strong materials and resources for their classrooms.Profile Picture

In addition to teaching, my other passion is reading. I love YA (young adult) novels. I read every free chance I have and I notice how “catchy” reading can be. My 5 year old son loves books almost as much as I do! You can follow me on my adventure of putting great resources in the hands of educators at


Read. Grow. Know.


Jenny Meyer

Meet Mari Kesselring!


Mari KesselringI first knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in first grade. As a kid, I’d have my mom staple together sheets of paper to make a book—then I’d write a story in it. The books would usually be about things happening in my life, such as birthday parties, taking walks with the family dog, or riding my bike around the neighborhood. Back then, I’d also illustrate the books myself. Today, I know to leave the illustrations to the experts!

I’ve written more than 30 books for young people—some nonfiction and some fiction. When I’m writing nonfiction, I like learning about new topics and presenting them to the reader in a way that is both informative and fun. I remember the joy I felt as a child when I was able to learn something on my own from a book. Working on fiction projects, I enjoy building a story and developing memorable characters. My favorite moment in writing fiction is when the characters “take over” and start to run the narrative for me.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy walking with my dog in my neighborhood in Minnesota and seeing movies and plays (particularly Shakespeare) with my husband, who is also a writer. I’m also a life-long learner, so I’m always excited to learn about something new.

How Do We Make More “Math People”?


Common Core MathWe’ve heard it a number of times before. Americans rank low when it comes to math scores and numeracy. As a general rule, we are not “math people.”

This week the New York Times article “Why Do Americans Stink at Math” by Elizabeth Green explored how the U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to implement more effective and innovative methods to teach math skills to American students.

Our most recent effort, the Common Core, is facing a great deal of push back from all sides. The Common Core’s math standards are incredibly ambitious. Instead of simply showing students methods to find a problem’s answer, they seek to allow students to visualize mathematical concepts in a meaningful way, setting them up to workout problems when they encounter them outside the classroom. However, the implementation has not been successful. Says Green,

With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers.

Parents trying to help their kids with their math homework are even less prepared to tackle the Common Core. It’s no wonder then, that so many are pushing to repeal the Common Core in their states.

But many educators aren’t willing to throw in the towel on the Common Core just yet. In schools that have carefully adopted new math programs, both student achievement and teacher understanding of concepts have improved. Success does not come overnight and state assessments should not expect it to. But there is a better way to teach math, and we owe it to our students to do better.

Math educator and author Lisa Arias, remains enthusiastic about the scope of the new standards. “Instead of rote computation without representation,  the Common Core Mathematics initiative provides  students with the opportunity to synthesize mathematical operations through problem solving, comparing, modeling, explaining and decomposing.”

Arias’s new series of math books Got Math supports students learning various math concepts called out in the Common Core. By providing the visual elements that will help learners internalize these concepts, Arias believes more of her students will become “math people.”

Meet Rourke’s Designer: Renee Brady

Renee BradyGrowing up loving art and all things associated with it, I was always drawing, painting or designing something. After graduating high school, I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a B.F.A. in photography and graphic design. Shortly after graduation I got my job at Rourke, and 9 years later I’m still excited to go to work and see what the new day will bring.

STEM Jobs with the Environment_6-7I love how my role is redefined every day. There is always growth and change at Rourke while we tackle new and different projects. And as an artist, that’s what I enjoy. Whether working on a huge project (NGSS Resource Bins) or working on the interior of a book, I’m glad to be doing what I do, and I love the people I get to share my day with. I’m currently working on the STEM Jobs You’ll Love series. Incorporating all this series’s different features with a polished design that will appeal to young readers is hugely rewarding.

When not at work, you can find me with my family out enjoying the sunshine on a boat and fishing, or with a book in my hand reading away.


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