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’m discussing each of the categories and providing an
updated list of exemplar books. You can scroll down to read about traditional
nonfiction, browseable books, and narrative nonfiction. Today I’m focusing on expository
nonfiction book sales to schools and libraries slumped, authors, illustrators,
and publishers began searching for new ways to add value to their work, so they
could compete with the internet. The result has been a new breed of finely-crafted
expository literature that delights as well as informs.
traditional nonfiction, expository literature often presents narrowly-focused
or specialized topics, such as STEM concepts, in creative ways that reflect the
author’s passion for the subject. For example, in the traditional nonfiction
book Butterflies by Seymour Simon, children learn all about the graceful
insects. The book has a standard format in which each double-page spread features
one page of text and one full-page photo. The author employs a description text
structure and uses concise, straightforward language.
the expository literature title A Butterfly Is Patient by Dianna Hutts
Aston focuses on a butterfly’s most amazing characteristics. The book has an
innovative format with two layers of text, stunning art, and a dynamic design. The
author presents the information with a wondrous, lyrical voice and makes expert
use of such language devices as imagery and personification, inviting readers
to think about and appreciate butterflies in a whole new way.
expository literature titles are so carefully crafted, they work especially well
as mentor texts in writing workshop. They can also help students recognize patterns,
think by analogy, and engage in big picture thinking.
are some examples:
Birds of a Feather:
Bowerbirds and Me by Susan L. Roth
Homes in the Wild: Where
Baby Animals and Their Parents Live by Lita Judge
President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner
Rotten: Vultures, Beetles, Slime and Nature’s Other Decomposers by Anita Sanchez
More than a Home by
Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
Women in Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World by Rachel Ignotofsky