Once upon a time, it was boring and stodgy and matter-of-fact, but today’s nonfiction books MUST delight as well as inform young readers, and nonfiction authors have risen to the challenge. The books they’re creating feature engaging text, often with a strong voice, as well as dynamic art and design.
Just as there are two distinct kinds of narrative nonfiction, there are two types of expository nonfiction. Facts-plus books focus on facts as well as overarching ideas. In other words, they present facts and explain them.
Fast-fact books focus on sharing cool facts. Period. They inform, and that’s all. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read together and discuss.
Some people don’t have a very high opinion of fast-fact books, and to be sure, they don’t build reading stamina or critical thinking skills, but they do motivate many reluctant readers to pick up a book, and IMHO that alone makes them worthwhile.
Why do students need to be exposed to a diverse array of expository texts? Because it’s the style of nonfiction they’ll be asked to write most frequently throughout their school careers and in their future jobs. Whether they’re working on a report, a thesis, a business proposal, or even a company newsletter, they’ll need to know how to summarize information and synthesize ideas in a way that is clear, logical, and interesting to their readers. Today’s expository children’s literature makes ideal mentor texts for modeling these skills.
Here are some great books in each expository nonfiction category:
Facts PlusA Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart
Guinness Book of World Records
Time for Kids Big Book of Why