Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Behind the Books: Comparisons in Expository Literature

As nonfiction writers do research, they learn a lot of facts and ideas that their readers won’t know. How can a writer make that information accessible to his or her audience? By using similes, metaphors, and other kinds of comparisons to use what readers do know as a launching point.

Many books do this effectively on an as needed basis, but a few books use comparisons as a central focus to make abstract ideas relevant to their readers’ lives and experiences.

Here are a couple of examples from If You Hopped Life a Frog by David M. Schwartz (Scholastic, 1999):

“If you swallowed like a snake . . .
you could gulp a hot dog thicker than a telephone pole.”

“If you scurried like a spider . . .
you could charge down an entire football field
in just two seconds

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) and How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook, 2013) are also chock full of visual comparisons that will delight as well as inform young readers.

How can we encourage students to be on the lookout for comparisons in the expository literature they read and enhance their own writing with fun, creative comparisons? I'll provide an activity on Friday.

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