Informational and Biographical Literature

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Discusses informational or nonfiction and biographical books for children

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Informational and Biographical Literature

  1. 1. Informational and Biographical Literature ELE 616 Readings and Research in Children’s Literature Fall 2008
  2. 2. Informational literature ? <ul><li>Informational books are found in the non-fiction section of the library, but not all non-fiction books are informational. After all, Mr. Dewey originally shelved fiction in the 800 section, which is the designation for literature, plays and poetry. And let’s not forget the folk tales and fairy tales belong in the 398 section because the 300 section is where informational books on the social sciences, which include culture and government, are shelved. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Library Media Center at Haworth Elementary School </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. nonfiction <ul><li>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 . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Informational Books <ul><li>Definition: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>LSC 300 L Literature for Children Mary E. Brown, Ph.D. Informational and reference books </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. On Writing Nonfiction for Children <ul><li>When we think of children’s literature, we often think of Mother Goose, alphabet books and fairy tales and overlook the important category of nonfiction. Nonfiction, also referred to as informational literature, is defined as a work of literature which is not imaginary and provides factual information to the reader. Children are curious about their world. It is this curiosity which addresses the need for good nonfiction in children’s literature. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By Lindsay Mannell; edited by Inez Ramsey </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Essential characteristics of good nonfiction for children <ul><li>[ Accuracy ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Organization & Scope ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Directions ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Qualifications ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Format ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Writing Style ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Illustrations ] </li></ul><ul><li>[ Promote Thinking Skills ] </li></ul>On Writing Nonfiction for Children By Lindsay Mannell; edited by Inez Ramsey
  7. 7. American Library Association’s definition <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  8. 8. In Quest of Excellence : The Sibert Medal <ul><li>Beyond Authority, Passion </li></ul><ul><li>An Abiding Respect for Children </li></ul><ul><li>Fitting and Eloquent Literary Style </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic and Artful Graphics </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment to Accuracy and Clarity </li></ul><ul><li>Thorough and Thoroughly Explained Documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Inviting Extensions </li></ul><ul><li>Organized to Ease Access and Enhance Meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Clear Delineation of Fact </li></ul><ul><li>Multilayered Content </li></ul><ul><li>Supportive Ancillary Material </li></ul><ul><li>Format Following Function </li></ul><ul><li>Apt and Appealing Book Design </li></ul><ul><li>Stimulating Overall Presentation </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2008 Sibert Medal Winner <ul><li>The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís (Farrar/Frances Foster) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Totalitarian regimes make for good children’s books.  They just do.  What could be more inherently exciting plot-wise than a world in which you never know who to trust?  Where children report parents to the police and freedom and creativity are stifled under the boots of oppressors?  That makes for good copy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Elizabeth Bird : Review of the Day: The Wall (Part One) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. One of the 2008 Sibert Honor books <ul><li>Nic Bishop Spiders Nic Bishop </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much different from the usual sweet spider story, this photo-rich picture book is packed with astonishing facts about these highly successful predators. . . . Bishop, a biologist and an expert photographer (he provided the pictures for Joy Cowley’s Red-Eyed Tree Frog , Booklist’s 1999 Top of the List—Nonfiction title), once again uses beautiful full-color photos to bring exciting science to children. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Another nonfiction award <ul><li>NCTE Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Award </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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   </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Criteria for the Orbis Pictus Award <ul><li>Each nomination should meet the following literary criteria: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization— logical development, clear sequence, interrelationships indicated, patterns provided (general-to-specific, simple-to-complex, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design— attractive, readable, illustrations complement text, placement of illustrative material appropriate and complementary, appropriate media, format, type </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Style— writing is interesting, stimulating, reveals author's enthusiasm for subject; curiosity and wonder encouraged, appropriate terminology, rich language </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. 2008 winner of Orbis Pictis <ul><li>M.L.K.:  Journey Of A King </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Illustrated with extensive period photography and narrated with Bolden's lively, well-researched text, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words and deeds are given new life to educate and inspire young minds. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bolden introduces young readers to the human being behind the icon. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TonyaBoldenBooks </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. A 2008 Honor Book for Orbis Pictus <ul><li>Venom ! Marilyn Singer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't Eat, Don't Touch, Don't...Well, Just DON’T! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All over the world there are animals that can hurt or kill you with a te, a stab, a sting, or a spit--and others that can hurt or kill if you bite them. These creatures can be found in many habitats. They ride the waves. They hide in the sand. They coil around branches. they buzz around the garden. They even sleep in your closet. And every one of them is toxic. </li></ul></ul>Another 2008 Orbis Pictus Honor winner
  15. 15. Dragons in nonfiction books?
  16. 16. Biographical literature <ul><li>biography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 . </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Biographies and Memoirs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Approaches to biography (degree of authenticity): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authentic biography -- attempts to convey the factual information of a person¹s 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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biographical fiction -- pure fanciful invention with only passing regard to the historical facts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>LSC 300 L Literature for Children Mary E. Brown, Ph.D. Biography </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Biography vs. biographical fiction <ul><li>Sarah Miller (Author of Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller ): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interview with Sarah Miller, October 1, 2007 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. An autobiographical award winner
  21. 21. An author of biographies for children
  22. 22. Biography raising consciousness <ul><li>African American Biography </li></ul>
  23. 23. 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

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