Wednesday, March 25, 2020

5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Browsable Nonfiction

Back in 2017, I proposed a five-category system for classifying children’s nonfiction on my blog, and the response was incredible.

Teachers loved it. So did librarians and children’s book authors and editors. People praised the clarity it brought to the range of children’s nonfiction available today. In May 2018, School Library Journal published an article about the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction. Again, the response was incredibly positive. I’ve spoken about the system at a number of conferences, and later this year, 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing with Children’s Books, co-written by literacy educator Marlene Correia, will hit bookshelves.

Because so many people want information now, I’m discussing each of the categories and providing an updated list of exemplar books. On March 11, I focused on traditional nonfiction. Today, I’ll talk about browseable books. 

Thanks to Dorling Kindersley’s innovative Eyewitness Books series, the 1990s brought remarkable changes to traditional expository nonfiction. These beautifully designed, lavishly illustrated books with short text blocks and extended captions revolutionized children’s nonfiction by giving fact-loving kids a fresh, engaging way to access information. 

Readers can easily dip in and out of browseable books, focusing on the sections that interest them most, or they can read the books cover to cover. Today, National Geographic, Time for Kids, and the Discovery Channel are all publishing fact-tastic books in this category, and kids love them. In many ways, they are the nonfiction analog to graphic novels.

Due to their wide array of text features, browseable books are well suited for the later stages of the research process, when students are seeking specific information and looking for tantalizing tidbits to engage their audience of readers.

Here are some examples:

The Book of Queens by Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Discovery Channel Sharkopedia: The Complete Guide to Everything Shark by Discovery Channel

Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat 

Eyewitness Books: Rocks & Minerals by R.F. Symes

Guinness World Records 2019 by Guinness World Records

North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History by Sarah Albee

Trees: A Rooted History by Piotr Socha and Wojciech Grajkowski

Time for Kids Big Book of Why by the Editors of Time for Kids

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