Do you approach nonfiction booktalking in the same way? Probably not. Chances are you focus on what the book’s about. Sure, the topic of a nonfiction book is important. But so is the plot of a novel.
The reason we focus on a nonfiction book’s topic is because we don’t know how to do anything else. That’s because there’s no widely-accepted categories to provide a broad overview. But there should be, and I don’t think it would be that hard to come up with a system that works most of the time.
Earlier this school year, I blogged about nonfiction types (survey, specialized, concept, biography/autobiography), styles (expository, narrative, persuasive), and structures (description, sequence/order, compare & contrast, question & answer, cause & effect, and problem & solution). Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about voice and point of view. Why not use them as a starting point for booktalking nonfiction?
For example, if I were booktalking Bugged: How Insects Changed the World by Sarah Albee, I might say “it’s an expository survey with a chronological structure; a lively, humorous, conversational voice; and a second-person point of view.
Because Bugged is a book for middle-grade readers, it’s perfectly reasonable that students could have been introduced to all the terms I’ve used above, just as they’ve been introduced to the meaning of “multiple points of view” and “contemporary realistic novel.” My description of Bugged lets readers know that the book is full of fascinating facts explained in context and that it will be fun to read.
This sort of terminology can also be used in written book reviews to give potential readers a stronger sense of how the information is presented. Of course, the trick to the success of this approach is getting everyone up to speed on the terminology.
What do you think? Could it work?