Informational and Biographical Literature: 2003 versionPresentation Transcript
Informational and Biographical Literature ELE 616 Research in Children’s Literature Fall 2009
What 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.
Prose literary work s describing events that actually occurred and character s 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 .
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
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.
Eleven Tips for Writing Successful Nonfiction for Kids
Tap into your Ew!, Phew!, and Cool! - Think like a kid.
Play with words
Try Unusual Formats.
Link new information to something kids already know.
Use storytelling techniques.
Narrow your topic.
Use reliable sources.
Know your market.
Do photo research.
Fiona Bayrock is the author of BUBBLE HOME AND FISH FARTS (Charlesbridge) and several other quirky science books for kids.
Eleven Tips for Writing Successful Nonfiction for Kids
American 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 AwardTerms and criteria
In Quest of Excellence : The Sibert Medal
Beyond Authority, Passion
An Abiding Respect for Children
Fitting and Eloquent Literary Style
Strategic and Artful Graphics
Commitment to Accuracy and Clarity
Thorough and Thoroughly Explained Documentation
Organized to Ease Access and Enhance Meaning
Clear Delineation of Fact
Supportive Ancillary Material
Format Following Function
Apt and Appealing Book Design
Stimulating Overall Presentation
2009 Winner of Sibert Medal
The Story of Negro League Baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.
One of the 2008 Sibert Honor books
Nic Bishop Spiders
For the first to third grade set, spiders are fascinating and suitably gruesome, especially when looked at in EXTREME close-up. Amazing images show the beauty and otherworldliness of spiders.
Another 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).
Criteria 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
Design— attractive, readable, illustrations complement text, placement of illustrative material appropriate and complementary, appropriate media, format, type
Style— writing is interesting, stimulating, reveals author's enthusiasm for subject; curiosity and wonder encouraged, appropriate terminology, rich language
2009 winner of Orbis Pictis
Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by David Craig ( Abrams Books for Young Readers )
Ever since Amelia Earhart and her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, people have wanted to know more about this remarkable woman. Amelia Earhart follows the charismatic aviator from her first sight of an airplane at the age of ten to the last radio transmission she made before she vanished. Illustrated with original artworks, contemporary photographs, quotes, and details, this is a great introduction to the famous pilot. The book includes a bibliography and an index.
A 2009 Honor Book for Orbis Pictus
When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature’s Balance in Yellowstone By Dorothy Hinshaw Patent Illustrated by Dan Hartman Photographs by Cassie Hartman and Dan Hartman
Now, more than a decade after scientists realized the wolves' essential role and returned them to Yellowstone, the park's natural balance is gradually being restored. The informative dual-level text and spectacular full-color photographs show the wolves in the natural habitat that was almost lost without them. Readers of all ages will be inspired by the delicate natural system that is Yellowstone.
Nonfiction about Native Americans?
Historical Native American IndianChildren’s and YA Non-Fiction
Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz (Atheneum, 1986). A thorough but clear look at a critical and traditionally (by mainstream historians) discounted segment of Native America. Ages 10-up
A carefully research ed, 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 subject ’s 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 .
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.
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
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
A 2008 Orbis Pictus biographical honor book
George Washington Carver By Tonya Bolden in association with The Field Museum Imprint: Abrams Books for Young Readers
With imagination and intellect, George Washington Carver (1864–1934) developed hundreds of unexpected products from everyday plants. This book reveals what an exceptionally uncommon man Carver was: trailblazing scholar, innovative scientist, pioneering conservationist, and impassioned educator.
A 2009 biographical Sibert honor book
What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic Press, 2008)
Unconventional in many ways and troublesome in others, young Alice Lee Roosevelt made a name for herself in the White House while living there with her family and president father.
An author of biographies for children
A Native American Biography
The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman
Grade: FOURTH | Age: 10 up
The heroic story of the Oglala Warrior who triumphed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. An ALA Notable Book and a Best Book for Young Adults. Illustrated by Amos Bad Heart Bull .
Biography raising consciousness
African American Biography
Are Nonfiction and Biography “Just the Facts, Ma’am”? From Mickenberg, Julia. (2002). “ Civil Rights, History and the Left: Inventing the Juvenile Black Biography .” Melus 27 , 65-93