Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Behind the Books: Conceptual Scaffolding

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that, I think of the cumulative text in my picture book No Monkeys, No Chocolate as a book-long example of conceptual scaffolding. This was a new term for a lot of readers, so I thought I’d look at the idea of conceptual scaffolding in more detail.

Conceptual scaffolding is an extended passage that explains a complex idea or process by meeting readers where they are and then leading them down a path to understanding. In addition to providing pertinent background information, it may involve dispelling preexisting misconceptions.

 When employing this technique, it can be really helpful to begin with a universal experience. From there, authors can provide readers with the building blocks they will need to slowly assemble a clear, logical explanation in their own minds.

Here are some recent books that make excellent use of conceptual scaffolding to explain very difficult scientific ideas in ways that young readers can really understand:

A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

Island by Jason Chin

Zombie Makers by Rebecca L. Johnson

Can you think of others? I’m searching for more.

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