Friday, May 19, 2017

In the Classroom: Should I Go Deeper? Making Decisions About Nonfiction Reading

Franki Sibberson
Not long ago, author Laura Purdie Salas brought this great article to my attention. I’m grateful to Franki Sibberson for writing it because it made me think about how I write books in a whole new way. I love it when that happens!

While narrative nonfiction is all the rage these days, more and more, teachers are exploring and thinking deeply about expository nonfiction—writing that informs, describes, and explains.

In this recent post on the Nerdy Book Club blog, I discussed some major benefits of exposing young readers and writers to a diverse array of finely-crafted expository literature. But I had never considered that some of these books can also help students develop online reading skills. After all, the Web can be a bottomless pit of information unless students learn to stay focused on their specific needs for a search.

As Franki astutely observes, books like The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins, When Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca Johnson, and my own book Feathers can be accessed in a variety of ways, and students can decide how much or how little to read. In some cases, seeking just a general overview may be the most productive reading strategy, but in other cases, a child’s personal interest or a school assignment will cause them to dig deeper.

I love the idea that children can read these books with intention, dip in and out, moving back and forth, making their reading experience exactly what they wish it to be.


  1. Expository nonfiction is my favorite--though narrative can be fun, too. But I find expository much more appealing and rereadable, in general. It's the fun of information for information's sake--without the constraints of a narrative arc imposed on it. Probably explains why I love the books Franki mentioned so much:>)