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Over the last years, there has been a dramatic change in the variety and availability of nonfiction, especially for younger children. While children still love the wonderful array of fictional picture books, research studies, by psychologists Barnes, Bernstein and Bloom, indicate that young children often prefer nonfiction.

Publishers and children's authors are addressing this need through a variety of different types of nonfiction.

  • TRADITIONAL NONFICTION: Most of us are familiar with traditional nonfiction. It is straight forward and clear, presenting facts in an expository style with photos or, sometimes, illustrations.

Traditional nonfiction definitely still has its place, but some of the newer forms have borrowed many of the positive elements from fictional picture books which will only help the reluctant reader, visual learner, or gender gap.

MELISSA STEWART, award winning author of over 150 science books for children, has helped to bring some clarification to this growing trend: she has proposed a system of classification, coming up with five categories.

  • BROWSEABLE NONFICTION: This might consist of interesting design elements, lots of visuals, short, descriptive blocks of text, and a less sequential format, hence the term browseable.

  • EXPOSITORY LITERATURE OR ALSO KNOWN AS INFORMATIONAL FICTION: The information is presented creatively, sometimes combining the elements of fiction and nonfiction, and often uses colorful and engaging language.

  • NARRATIVE NONFICTION: Uses a narrative writing style, tells a story about real characters or events, has rich language, is usually sequenced chronologically, and is often historical or biographical.

  • ACTIVE NONFICTION: Is activity oriented, might include field guides, cookbooks, or crafts, and has clear, informational language.

Of course, some books may also be a combination of a couple of categories, which is all the more reason to know some of the distinctions. When we, as teachers, librarians or parents, have a better understanding, we can equip kids with better nonfiction reading skills and strategies.

Make sure to visit my website and blog for more nonfiction book ideas and information!

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