Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Behind the Books: Circle Text Structure

Most schools are currently teaching students that there are five nonfiction text structures—description, sequence, compare and contrast, cause and effect, problem and solution. But the truth is that these options are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are many, many possibilities, and one of the biggest challenges a nonfiction writer faces is choosing the most effective one (or combination).

One text structure that I think should get more attention is the circle structure. One of the best known fiction books with a circle structure (as well as a cause and effect structure) is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond.
 
Why is it so popular? Because it's so different, so unsual, and so fun. The clever combination of a cause and effect structure and a circle structure is extremely rare in a fiction title. Nearly all fiction books have a problem-solution text structure.

Circle structures are more common in nonfiction. Some of great examples include:

A Butterfly Is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2197827.A_Drop_of_Water?from_search=true
A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long
 

Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito and Nicole Wong
 

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman
 

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Nicole Wong

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley and Nic Bishop

Redwoods by Jason Chin

A Rock Is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre and Kate Endle

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart and Constance Bergum

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins

Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre
 

When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart and Constance Bergum
 
Some of these books have a narrative writing style, while others have an expository writing style. But many students (and adults) would be tempted call them all “stories.” Why? Because the reader begins and ends at the same place, which is very satisfying and has a similar feel to the denouement of a typical narrative.

As a result, expository titles with a circle structure appeal to a broad range of readers. They feel comfortable and familiar to narrative lovers, and yet, they still have the expository characteristics that appeal to analytical thinkers—fascinating facts, main ideas and supporting details, patterns, comparisons, concepts. So consider adding some books with a circular text structure to your collection and sharing them as read alouds. Students will thank you.
 

1 comment:

  1. It makes sense that the circle structure is a good fit for children's books about nature since so much in nature is circular. Thanks for giving this text structure its time in the sun!

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