ELE 616 Research in Children’s Literature 1 Fall 2011 Informational and Biographical Literature:Bears . . . and Teddies!
2What is informational literature?• Opinions differ about what is meant by informational literature – [Some use] the term expository-informational text to refer to titles that are report-like and use expository text structures. – More frequently, the term informational text is used synonymously with nonfiction. – Nonfiction is also the term recognized in the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress systems.
3nonfiction – Prose literary works describing events that actually occurred and characters or phenomena that actually exist or existed in the past. In a more general sense, any piece of prose writing in which the content is not imagined by the author. In libraries that use Library of Congress Classification (LCC) or Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), nonfiction is shelved by call number. Compare with fiction. See also: documentary and faction. .
4What about faction?• Confusing! 1. A group of people, especially within a political organization, who express a shared belief or opinion different from people who are not part of the group. 2. A form of literature, film etc., that treats real people or events as if they were fiction; a mix of fact and fiction • Faction in Wiktionary
5Informational Books• Definition: – Informational books deal exclusively with factual material presented to instruct the reader. They are generally consider to be functional or utilitarian books and not part of literature. Children, however, do not always separate fiction and nonfiction and there is an interest/need to have informative books which also appeal to the aesthetic. – We have become accustomed to informational books being dry and dull; however, there is no reason why nonfiction books cannot adhere to finer literary standards and hold our interests as would a good novel. • LSC 300 L Literature for Children Mary E. Brown, Ph.D. Informational and reference books
6 Writing Nonfiction for Children• Non-fiction has long been seen as the poor relation in children’s books, inferior to fiction in both quality and sales. But in recent years, leading figures working in children’s books have realized that children should have access to the same high-quality information writing that adult readers take for granted. – The Real World is a Great Story Too: Author Nicola Davies and editor Caroline Royds talk to Madelyn Travis about developments in non-fiction for children.
7Eleven Tips for Writing Successful Nonfiction for Kids 1. Tap into your Ew!, Phew!, and Cool! - Think like a kid. 2. Play with words 3. Be Conversational 4. Try Unusual Formats. 5. Link new information to something kids already know. 6. Include activities.
8Eleven Tips for Writing Successful Nonfiction for Kids7. Use storytelling techniques.8. Narrow your topic.9. Use reliable sources.10. Know your market.11. Do photo research. – Fiona Bayrock is the author of BUBBLE HOME AND FISH FARTS (Charlesbridge) and several other quirky science books for kids.
9American Library Association’s definition• Information books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize and interpret documentable factual material for children. There are no limitations as to the character of the book, although poetry and traditional literature are not eligible. Honor books may be named; they shall be books that are truly distinguished. – (Robert F.) Sibert Informational Book Award Terms and criteria
10In Quest of Excellence: The Sibert Medal• Beyond Authority, Passion • Supportive Ancillary• An Abiding Respect for Children Material• Fitting and Eloquent Literary Style • Format Following• Strategic and Artful Graphics Function• Commitment to Accuracy and • Apt and Appealing Book Clarity Design• Thorough and Thoroughly • Stimulating Overall Explained Documentation Presentation• Inviting Extensions• Organized to Ease Access and Enhance Meaning• Clear Delineation of Fact• Multilayered Content
112011 Winner of Sibert Medal• – Follow intrepid animal lovers Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop on a ten-day excursion to witness the exciting events in the life of the kakapo. By turns emotional, fascinating, dangerous, and hilarious, Montgomery’s and Bishop’s sensitive and scientific chronicle explores all there is to know about these “winged weirdos.” –
13Another nonfiction award• NCTE Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Award – NCTE, through the Committee on the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, has established an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children. Read more about how Orbis Pictus Award-winning books are created and chosen in the NCTE book The Best in Children’s Nonfiction Reading, Writing, and Teaching Orbis Pictus Award Books (2001).
14Criteria for the Orbis Pictus Award• Each nomination should meet the following literary criteria: – Accuracy—facts current and complete, balance of fact and theory, varying point of view, stereotypes avoided, author’s qualifications adequate, appropriate scope, authenticity of detail – Organization—logical development, clear sequence, interrelationships indicated, patterns provided (general-to-specific, simple-to-complex, etc.) – Design—attractive, readable, illustrations complement text, placement of illustrative material appropriate and complementary, appropriate media, format, type – Style—writing is interesting, stimulating, reveals authors enthusiasm for subject; curiosity and wonder encouraged, appropriate terminology, rich language
152011 winner of Orbis Pictis• Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring – It took more than a year and the imaginations of many talented people for “Appalachian Spring,” the dance created by Martha Graham, to be performed on stage for the first time. The result was an American classic. This is the story of how it happened. • • Also a Sibert Honor Book for 2011.
16A 2011 Honor Book for Orbis Pictus• Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe (Abrams Books for Young Readers). – Drawing on the recent discovery of a fully-frozen, 40,000-year-old baby mammoth, this book explores the latest theories about how these colossal creatures fit into their Ice Age landscape— and how learning about them could help us keep modern elephants from suffering their fate of extinction.
17Nonfiction about Bears? Mark Newman; photographs by Mark Newman Henry Holt and Co., October 2010 Grade Range: p to 3, Age Range: 4 to 8 ISBN: 978-0-8050-8999-8, ISBN10: 0-8050- 8999-3, Picture Book Nonfiction, 8.5 x 11 inches, 32 pages, full-color photographs, Awards: Orbis Pictus Recommended Title
18Biographical literature• biography – A carefully researched, relatively full narrative account of the life of a specific person or closely related group of people, written by another. The biographer selects the most interesting and important events with the intention of elucidating the character and personality of the biographee and placing the subjects life in social, cultural, and historical context. An authorized biography, written with the consent and sometimes the cooperation of its subject, may be less critical than an unauthorized biography.
19• Biographies and Memoirs – The mere mention of the biography genre is sometimes enough to cause the eyes to glaze over, especially if you were assigned it once too often in school. Then too, it used to be that biographies written for kids seemed to make the life of even the most exciting person dull. Yet biographies are the favorite genre of many lifetime readers. Biographies can and should provide a way to personalize history, to discover the motivation behind some interesting people and perhaps awaken a new interest or passion.
20• Approaches to biography (degree of authenticity): – Authentic biography -- attempts to convey the factual information of a person’s life; does not include any unsupported facts, facts supported by reliable research; rarely includes dialogue--unless taken from letters or diaries or reliable personal recollections. – Fictionalized biography -- dramatizes events; creates dialogue and scenes to make the story more interesting; good fictionalized biography will not create scenes that did not happen. – Biographical fiction -- pure fanciful invention with only passing regard to the historical facts. • LSC 300 L Literature for Children Mary E. Brown, Ph.D. Biography
21 Biography vs. biographical fiction• Sarah Miller (Author of Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller): – A biography is strictly facts - no invention. Unfortunately, many children’s biographies are a muddy mix of facts and invented conversations. Some authors believe that kids won’t read a book that doesn’t have the feel of a story, so they make up scenes and dialogue to get the facts across in a more “entertaining” way. That really bugs me. – Historical fiction on the other hand is a story based on facts. I believe good historical fiction requires just as much research as non-fiction. • Interview with Sarah Miller, October 1, 2007
22 A 2011 Orbis Pictus biographical honor book• The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) By Barbara Kerley. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham Kerley and Fotheringham (What to Do About Alice?) pair up again to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of another famous family… Author notes about Susy and her father, a time line of Twains life, and tips for writing an “extraordinary biography” complete this accessible and inventive vision of an American legend. – Publishers Weekly, starred review – From Barbara Kerley’s homepage