Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Behind the Books: What CCSS Says About Informational Text Types

In last week’s post, I described four nonfiction categories that can help readers and writers make sense of the vast array of nonfiction book being published today. They were survey, specialized, concept, and biography/autobiography.

As I gather information for the science books I write, I often encounter instances in which scientists disagree about how to classify a particular plant or animal. Some say it belongs in genus X, and they have convincing evidence to back up their claim. Others say it belongs in genus Y, and they too have solid rationale. Classifying living things is messy. And it turns out that classifying nonfiction can be messy, too.

Why do I say that? Because CCSS has a completely different way of classifying informational texts. Its four “types” (which it uses to classify much more than just books) are literary, expository, persuasive, and procedural. Here’s how they define their categories:

literary—some personal essays and speeches, most biographies/autobiographies, memoirs, narrative nonfiction, some poetry, some informational picture books
expository—Q & A books, some informational children’s literature, textbooks, reference books, most primary sources
persuasive—some letters, essays, and speeches; opinion pieces, some informational children’s literature, some biographies/autobiographies
procedural—cookbooks, craft books, Mapquest and Google Maps, assembly instructions

Here’s how some popular children’s books would be sorted according to this system:

Literary Nonfiction
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad Tale by April Pulley Sayre  

Energy Island by Allan Drummond

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston  

Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost

Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy & Dennis Kunkle

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

The Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery  

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost  

Those Rebels John & Tom by Barbara Kerley

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart  

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre  

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell

Expository Nonfiction
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart

A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

Frogs by Nic Bishop

John, Paul, George, & Ben by Lane Smith

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonard da Vinci by Gene Baretta

Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee

Redwoods by Jason Chin

See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House by Susan E. Goodman

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos

Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed . . . and Revealed by David M. Schwartz & Yael Schy (photos Dwight Kuhn)

Persuasive Nonfiction
Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone

Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns

City Chickens by Christine Heppermann

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Gaia Warriors by Nicola Davies and James Lovelock

A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart

Write On, Mercy: The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren by Gretchen Woelfle

Wheels of Change by Sue Macy

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone

Procedural Nonfiction
Dessert Designers: Creations You Can Make and Eat by Dana Meachen Rau

Get Outside by Jane Drake and Ann Love

The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger

Let’s Try It Out series by Seymour Simon

Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl

Science Play series by Vicki Cobb

Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made by Bill Slavin

These categories are useful in some ways, but they seem contrived to me. For example, the “literary” category seems too broad to be meaningful. And isn’t a procedural text really just one specific kind of expository text?

I’ll talk more about these categories next week.

1 comment:

  1. Melissa I love your on-going, in-depth look at non-fiction types/categories/structures.