By Wendy Hinote Lanier
As part of an ongoing conversation about types of nonfiction based on the work of Melissa Stewart (we’ve already addressed three), today’s post is about a fourth type: traditional nonfiction.
Traditional nonfiction is a personal favorite. Partly because I read a lot of it growing up, and partly because I’ve written a lot of it as an adult. However, the stuff I grew up reading is very different from what is considered traditional nonfiction today.
Today’s traditional nonfiction is generally an overview of a particular topic—an “all about XYZ” sort of thing. It’s written in an expository style using clear, straightforward language, and the books in this category are frequently part of a series. The pages are filled with colorful illustrations and/or photographs, cool graphics and charts, interesting sidebars, explanatory captions, and sometimes even QR codes or web links for additional information or activities. This is NOT your grandpa’s nonfiction.
As with active nonfiction, traditional nonfiction isn’t considered sexy and doesn’t often win the big awards. What is does is sell. Big. Kids who are curious about a particular topic eat it up. The straightforward format satisfies their need to know and provides just the right amount of entertainment to go along with it.
Some Ninja favs in this category include:
The Truth About series by Maxwell Eaton III is both funny and informational. The author’s almost graphic novel art style and humorous text covers just about everything a kid might want to know about animals like dolphins, crocodiles, hawks, bears, butterflies, elephants, and his most recent release—parrots.
Capstone’s Fast Facts About Bugs and Spiders is a series of eight books, five of which are written by fellow Ninja Lisa Amstutz. Simple text, close-up photos, and fun activities make these overviews of various bugs and spiders a great introduction for a budding entomologist.
The What to Expect When You’re Expecting series by Bridget Heos is another great example of a traditional nonfiction. This entertaining format is used in at least three books that explore insects, marsupials, and reptiles. Heos is also the author of the Just Like Us series that includes six titles exploring the topics of fish, plants, crocodiles, birds, cats, and ants
The Read All About series by Jaclyn Jaycox is from Capstone and includes four titles. Stunning photographs and fact laden text introduce young readers to the world of dogs, cats, oceans, or rocks and gems.
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The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.