Then Common Core came along and presented educators with six distinct groupings—description, sequence/order, compare & contrast, question & answer, cause & effect, and problem & solution. I’ve tried again and again to sort existing books into these categories with mixed success.
In the end, what I’ve realized is that while these categories may reflect the structures (at least some) educators think students should learn to write, they aren’t necessarily in line with the nonfiction children’s books being published.
For example, right now narrative nonfiction is king in the kidlit world. It wins most of the awards, so editors are eager to publish more. Who can blame them? They work for companies with owners or stockholders who want to make money, and for the most part, award-winning books sell more copies.
So we have lots and lots and lots of narrative nonfiction. In fact, narrative nonfiction is so plentiful and diverse that I divide it into five subcategories. And yet all narrative nonfiction is just one subgroup within CCSS’s “sequence” category.
Think about it. All narrative nonfiction has a sequence structure. The books present information as a sequence of events. There are also some expository books written with a sequence structure, so I think it’s safe to say that something like two-thirds of all nonfiction trade books have this one structure.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully
Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
Pop: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Megan McCarthy
The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass
What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel
When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson
Coral Reef by Jason Chin
A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison
Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
Redwoods by Jason Chin
Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart
When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
If Stones Could Speak by Marc Aronson
Lost Treasure of the Inca by Peter Lourie
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain by Sy Montgomery
Bugged: How Insects Changes the World by Sarah Albee
Dessert Designers: Creations You Can Make and Eat by Dana Meachen Rau
Get Outside by Jane Drake and Ann Love
Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeleine Dunphy
The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox
Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos
I’m going to talk more about the other five CCSS-structure categories and provide sample titles in January. Happy Holidays!