Wednesday, April 15, 2020

5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Active 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’ve been discussing each of the categories and providing an updated list of exemplar books. You can scroll down to read the earlier post. Today, I’m finishing up by discussing active nonfiction

Active nonfiction has been around since at least the 1980s, but thanks to the maker movement, these books have really hit their stride in recent years. And now, with the Coronavirus causing school shutdowns, Nielsen BookScan data show that this kind of nonfiction is leading juvenile book sales. 

Active nonfiction titles are highly interactive and/or teach skills that readers can use to engage in an activity. Written with an expository writing style, these field guides, craft books, cookbooks, books of scientific experiments, book-model combinations, etc. are richly designed and carefully formatted to make the information and procedures they present clear and accessible.

These books, which are currently extremely popular with young readers, are the perfect addition to school and library makerspaces. And they're perfect for lessons like this one developed by school librarian Tom Bober.

Here are some recently-published examples:

Brain Games: The Mind-Blowing Science of Your Amazing Brain by Jennifer Swanson

Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski

Cooking Class Global Feast! 44 Recipes that Celebrate the World’s Cultures by Deanna F. Cook

Hair-Raising Hairstyles that Make a Statement by Rebecca Rissman 

The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger

National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America by Jonathan Alderfer 

Ralph Masiello’s Alien Drawing Book by Ralph Masiello

Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home by Mary Kay Carson

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