Monday, February 1, 2021

What Is Literary Nonfiction?

By Melissa Stewart

Both adult and publishers and children’s publishers divide fiction and nonfiction books into two broad categories—commercial and literary.

Commercial fiction, written by such authors as Mary Higgins Clark, Gordon Korman, Stephen King, Mary Pope Osborne, James Patterson, and Lauren Tarshis, has mass appeal, and editors expect it to make a substantial profit. These books are fast paced with strong plots and limited characterization. Their themes are usually fairly obvious, and the language and syntax isn’t too complex.

In contrast, literary fiction, written by such authors as Kate deCamillo, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Padma Venkatraman, and Jacqueline Woodson, is more likely to receive starred reviews and win awards. These books feature rich, multifaceted stories with well-developed characters, lush language, and complex, timeless themes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similarly, commercial nonfiction for children has mass appeal. These active and browsable titles generally sell well in bookstores and mass market outlets (like Target and Walmart) with some crossover to schools and libraries.

Literary nonfiction for children, on the other hand, is more likely to wins awards and is considered higher-quality writing. These expository literature and narrative nonfiction titles sell primarily to schools and libraries with some crossover to bookstores and, occasionally, to mass market outlets.

When educators use the term “literary nonfiction,” they are (understandably) thinking more about craft moves than sales potential. According to The Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Continuum (Heinemann, 2016), literary nonfiction is “a nonfiction text that employs literary techniques, such as figurative language, to present information in engaging ways.”  

Because nearly all current state ELA standards are heavily modeled after the Common Core State Standards (even in states that never adopted CCSS), it’s worth looking at that document too. It focuses more on types or forms of writing and lists the following as examples of literary nonfiction:

—some personal essays and speeches

—most biographies/autobiographies

—memoirs

—narrative nonfiction

—some poetry

—some informational picture books

(It’s interesting that CCSS differentiates life stories (biographies and autobiographies) from narrative nonfiction. In the children’s literature community, picture book biographies are generally considered quintessential examples of narrative nonfiction because they tell the story of a person’s life.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system (which focuses on children’s nonfiction books exclusively and doesn’t include essays, speeches, letters, journals, textbooks, brochures, catalogs, etc.) differentiates between commercial categories and literary categories because one of its goals is to give authors, editors, agents, book reviewers, awards committee members, librarians, literacy educators, and classroom teachers a common lexicon for discussing the wide and wonderful world of nonfiction for kids. Only then can publishers understand the kinds of nonfiction books that ALL students want and need.

Because most editors gravitate toward narratives, publishers have put a lot of emphasis on narrative nonfiction in recent years. But that’s slowly starting to change, as the children’s literature community realizes two important things: 

1. About 40 percent of young readers prefer expository nonfiction.
2. Four of the five categories in the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system have an expository writing style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on that knowledge, publishers are beginning to acquire more expository literature, making this an expanding market for authors and illustrators. There are currently two notable gaps that need filling:

—Books about history and social studies topics.
—Books written and illustrated by people from traditionally marginalized communities.

Nonfiction creators also need to look for creative ways to incorporate what kids love about active and browsable nonfiction into books with the elements of finely-crafted nonfiction prose. Perhaps these are areas where you can contribute to innovation and evolution happening right now in children’s nonfiction.

 

ACTIVITY

Using the information above and book descriptions available on the internet, classify each of the titles below as either literary nonfiction or commercial nonfiction. Then, after exploring the links above, use the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system to categorize the books as active, browsable, expository literature, or narrative.

Cooking Class Global Feast! 44 Recipes that Celebrate the World’s Cultures by Deanna F. Cook

Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons

Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat

Guinness World Records 2020 by Guinness World Records

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner

Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home by Mary Kay Carson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Stewart has written more than 180 science books for children, including her upcoming title Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. She co-wrote 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books and edited the anthology Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-winning Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing. Melissa maintains the award-winning blog Celebrate Science and serves on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators board of advisors. Her highly-regarded website features a rich array of nonfiction writing resources. 

 

 

ABOUT THE PRIZE

Melissa Stewart will be giving away a 30-minute Q&A Skype session.

186 comments:

  1. Thanks for breaking this down. The research information about what children prefer to read is also interesting (and very helpful for writers to know.) Thanks!

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  2. I’m into it! I’m especially interested in the notion that editors are moving more toward narrative nonfiction. I equally interested in exploring the history and social studies angle.

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    1. Editors are beginning to think more about expository literature. They've been interested in narrative nf for many years.

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    2. Me too. It's definitely eye-opening to look at nf through different lenses.

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  3. Fantastic start to the month.

    Thank you for bringing up that "books written and illustrated by people from traditionally marginalized communities" is a notable gap. I wrote a PB about Representative Ilhan Omar but after six months of back & forth, an editor still didn't feel it was ready. I'm going to now look at it with fresh eyes after reading this article about "creative ways to incorporate what kids love" & check out your suggested books.

    I especially can't wait to read Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons.

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    1. Keep trying! You may need to look at your subject through a different lens.

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  4. Thanks, Melissa. This first post has a wealth of information and you are causing us to do some work ourselves. Good combination.

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  5. It is great to start out the month with information about how nonfiction is categorized and how these categories are viewed by publishers, teachers, librarians and ultimately kids.

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  6. Interesting! I confess, I have trouble understanding these different categories. I appreciate this assignment that will make me think more about them.

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    1. The links should help. I also have a book on the 5 kinds of Nonfiction coming out soon. You can pre-order it now:
      https://www.stenhouse.com/content/5-kinds-nonfiction

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  7. What a great kickoff to NFFest 2021!

    I’m curious: when you say there is a gap in history/social studies topics, do you mean specifically within the category of expository nonfiction?

    I wonder if part of this gap is due to the wide variety in social studies learning standards across the different states?

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    1. Yes. Because history has a built in chronology, most authors choose to employ a narrative writing style. Until recently, editors have been most interested in acquiring narrative nf. But some kids don't connect to narratives. We need high-quality expository texts on every topic under the sun.

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    2. This makes perfect sense, thanks so much for responding! I started out writing narrative NF but am starting to experiment with expository manuscripts. (And I'm a social sciences person at heart, so this is an exciting trend to hear).

      Do queries and submissions for expository books tend to work the same way as for narrative? (i.e. do you need a proposal for expository PBs? Do most kidlit writers go through agents for their expository booksor work directly with publishers?)

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  8. Love narrative nonfiction! I've been refining my backmatter all weekend and waiting for more notes from my expert. Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for the great review of the different categories!

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  11. Thanks for sharing! I found it interesting that over 40% of kids orefer expository NF! I can't wait to take a closer look at the titles you have listed in the assignment.

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  12. I love how you always explain the nonfiction types so clearly, Melissa. And I appreciate the Common Core info and data on writing styles students prefer. I feel pumped. Thank you!

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  13. History and Social Studies is a gap that needs filling? I'm on it! That's my favorite area to research.

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  14. So excited to see history on the list of needed titles! This is my passion!

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  15. I'm with Kimberly. I love history and social studies. I need to research what's been done and what's missing. I'm on it. Carole Calladine

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  16. Woot, kids know best that NF is great, especially expository!Am waiting for your Stenhouse book!Ty.

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  17. NF is my passion! Your insights are very helpful and I'm excited to dig deeper and learn more about these different categories. Just curious, does that mean science topics are not in demand?

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    1. Yes, STEM books are still greatly needed. It's just that there is almost NO history/ss expository literature.

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  18. It’s curious to me that knowing so many kids prefer NF publishers weren’t meeting this demand. Also, I wonder where to research the areas of history where there is a need for theses books. Thank you for this post.

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    1. The problem is that kids don't buy books for themselves and many educators have a personal preference for fiction. This explains why nf sells so well in the adult market but not in children's s publishing. Adult readers buy the books they want.

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    2. My takeaway message here is that we need to educate the adults about this information. Having recently stepped out of the world of education, I will definitely share with friends and colleagues. I believe that the Common Core standards have encouraged more use of nonfiction; this information should do that as well.

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    3. Absolutely! That's why Cynthia Levinson, Jen Swanson, and I recently wrote this article for PW.
      https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/85257-soapbox-hey-grownups-kids-really-do-like-nonfiction.html?fbclid=IwAR3LbS0b9erhIALUxt2tR4Nwzj9m44oaVaJyG99VL1Jy1cKqEoQqb4BaGcY

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  19. This is a lot of information for someone who is new to nonfiction. I will have to dissect it so I can study and understand better. So thank you for the exercise. I’m not sure what expository books are or what makes them expository. I also have an interest in science nonfiction is that considered expository? Are publishers not interested in insects or animals as much as history and biographies right now? There is just so much I need to learn and where to start researching. Thanks!

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    1. This article can help you understand the difference between expository and narrative writing styles:
      https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=comparing-teaching-expository-and-narrative-nonfiction

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    2. Most expository literature is STEM themed rather than history/ss, so there is a gap. But editors still interested science books.

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    3. Melissa, the SLJ article was really helpful, thank you!

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  20. Thanks for the lesson Melissa. This is definitely a nonfiction fest month because our 12 x 12 group is reading and discussing NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP this month as well!

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  21. Interesting. I love that evolution is happening! I thought kids would prefer literary versus commercial. I wonder if it has to do with commercial being more mass marketed to book stores and media outlets as well as schools and libraries. Thanks for the information!

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    1. Commerical books are more likely to bee found in mass market outlets because they are more popular with kids.

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  22. Love this! I feel that you’ve done a lot for children’s nonfiction with these categories. I saw that Lerner had a big spread on this in their Spring catalog! Excited to try my hand at expository literature. Thank you for the suggestions listed at your website.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, Lerner and Penguin Random House have categorized all their books by these categories. Some of the jobbers have too.

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  23. Thank your Melissa for all of your work in this area. I've learned so much about kids NF by reading your site, your book, and hearing you speak at SCBWI and at your book launch a few weeks ago.

    Prior to reading your work, my thoughts about kids NF were influenced by my childhood memories of stacks of facts.

    And...now I've fallen in love with the Expository and Narrative nature of the many engaging kids NF books I've read. It's been sheer joy!!

    Thank you for all of your pioneering work in this area. I appreciate it dearly. The classification activity you provide here and on your site truly help me to understand the vast array of possibility in the space of NF, and because of you and your body of work, I'm writing NF for kids!! Thanks ever so much.

    Here's how I classified those texts based on the explanations of the categories.

    ACTIVE: Cooking Class Global Feast! 44 Recipes that Celebrate the World’s Cultures by Deanna F. Cook
    EXPOSITORY: Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield
    NARRATIVE: Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons
    BROWSEABLE: Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat
    BROWSEABLE: Guinness World Records 2020 by Guinness World Records
    EXPOSITORY: Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming
    EXPOSITORY: The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner
    ACTIVE: Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home by Mary Kay Carson

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    1. Please note that the category name is "Expository Literature" not just expository. This is an important distinction because four of the categories have an expository writing style.

      I consider Honeybee to ne narrative because it tells the story of the bee's life. There is a character, setting, scenes, narrative arc, etc.

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  24. Thanks so much, Melissa! I continue to learn from you and refine my understanding of the different types of nonfiction.

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    1. Much of my thinking was influenced by your wonderful book Nonfiction Mentor Texts.

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    2. Thanks for the resource! I'm taking notes.

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  25. Wonderful way to kick off the month. It helps when we all are using the same terminology to speak about and think about nonfiction. The activity helped, too. Thank you for all you do to promote nonfiction!

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  26. I find the lack of social studies and history NF kids books intriguing. The older I get, the more interested I am in history, and I'm finding it a fun challenge to write about history in an engaging way to pique the interests of young readers.

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    1. There are plenty of ss/history books, but they almost all have a narrative writing style, which doesn't appeal to all young readers. about 40 percent of kids prefer expository text.

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  27. The teacher in me related to this post almost immediately. My classrooms bore out this info accurately. Browseable was extremely popular for it's short and quick reads. Can you comment on reading levels for all of these?

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    1. Ditto! My kiddos love to pick up and learn, then set down, but return again and again

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    2. All of the categories can be written for any age level--including adults.

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  28. Thank you Melissa! Great post on various types of NF for children. As my works are primarily literary, narrative nonfiction, it was enlightening to be able to discern the other categories.

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  29. This is a great day one activity. A reminder for writers there are so many ways to begin the journey depending upon what speaks to you. I also find the reference to the standards of learning a key facet for us to keep in mind. It is important for teachers to know we are writing to enhance their curriculum.

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  30. I have been excited to explore your website recently. So many incredible resources. Today's blog and activity just add to it. Thanks, Melissa!

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    1. Thanks for checking out the resources on my website.

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  31. Thank you for this exercise and how it made me exercise my Covid depleted mind. I wonder how thin the line is between Browseable and Expository Literature....is it in the depth of language? the breadth of subject? I was just thinking about how some of the Expository titles seemed to have short bursts of texts and how closely related the two categories could be.....

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    1. Please click on the links above for more info about this. Browsable books usually cover a broad category, have a description text structure, and more straightforward language.

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  32. Thank you so much. This is incredibly helpful. Great way to kick-off the month!

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  33. Thanks for kicking off NFFEST with this helpful chart Melissa Stewart! I like the assignment portion to cement it in further.

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  34. I love how you describe the five types of nonfiction. You make it so easy to understand. Thanks for a great post, Melissa!

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  35. Thanks! I'm going to have to look at the difference between browseable / expository / narrative more. There seems to be a fair bit of gray space between them, since I classified Kate Messner's Next President as Browseable (small chunks of text), but I see someone else classified it as expository (a narrative/timeline tying things together?).

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    1. I consider it expository literature because it has a narrow focus, an innovative format and text structure, and rich language.

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  36. Wow...this article made me realize just how much I have to learn!! Thank you.

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  37. Great after-the-post quiz... I realize I need to check out more expository nf to get a better feel for it.

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  38. Thanks for your introduction to nonfiction and pointing out the changes to keep up with in the market! Lynn Street

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  39. Very good article, Melissa. You keep referring to links, but I do not see any. Also I am a bit unclear as to what “ttraditional” nonfiction is. Thanks again.

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    1. The words set in bold are links. If you click on them, they will take you to a more expansive article. That article has more info about traditional nf and all the other categories. You could also pre-order my upcoming book on the topic for even more information:
      https://www.stenhouse.com/content/5-kinds-nonfiction

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  40. Thank you for your clarifying information. I have some social studies NF ideas that I want to explore this year.

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  41. This was a fantastic first article. I enjoyed trying to categorize the book list at the end. Thank you!

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  42. I was wondering about the difference with some of the NF subcategories, and this post answered those questions and then some. Thank you for clarifying.

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  43. Thanks for this great post, Melissa. Working on the little test at the end!

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  44. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing so much knowledge and hope! I take so much away every single time I read from you or hear from you!

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  45. This is so helpful... and the points about the need for history/social studies and stories of marginalized figures give me hope! I'm puzzled by the stats showing that kids crave expository at the same time that publishers seem to be saying they want PB bios that are creative, lyrical, and out of the box.

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    1. Expository nf can certainly be creative, lyrical, and out of the box, but most pb bios have a narrative writing style. The discrepancy exists because editors tend to narrative lovers themselves. they don't connect to expository writing the way kids do, but we all need to remember who our audience is.

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    2. Thanks, Melissa. This helps me figure out next steps in a project I'm working on!

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  46. How do I indicate that I have completed an activity?

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    1. Hi! You just keep track of it yourself. We are on the honor system here :-)
      At the end of the month you will have a chance to enter the drawing for PRIZES!!!

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  47. Woot! Thank you Melissa for breaking down the 5 kinds of NF. What is considered commercial and what is considered literary can get my brain whirling :) You've given appreciated definitions and examples to study. Off to do my homework!

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  48. Thank you Melissa. I have read so many of your posts and articles, and I'm sure I've learned something new from every one of them! You really fine-tuned the differences for this one!

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  49. These are good points for writing nonfiction. I have a question: do certain topics lend themselves to a certain style? For example: biographies are usually narrative. Is there a loose rule that could be helpful? I know a steadfast rule is useless because there are always exceptions.

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    1. My experience is that you can take many different approaches to the same topic. (But I'm interested in Melissa's answer to your question, too.)

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    2. any kind of nf with a built in story works well as narrative. But if there's no story, then you need to consider the other four categories. Are their activities? Active. Is it a broad topic? Probably browsable or traditional. Focused topic/concept/theme? Expository literature.

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  50. I currently write historical fiction chapter books, but would love to include narrative nonfiction picture books as well in my portfolio.

    LOVED the activity...I'm confident about all but two that in my mind would be a couple of different options in my mind...lol...

    Great post!
    Donna L Martin

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  51. Such a clear and concise explanation for literary vs commercial nonfiction and other delineations in NF forms...thank you, Melissa!

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  52. Thank you Melissa! Always such great insight and advice.

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  53. Thank you, Melissa. Are you going to give us the answers to your quiz? I want to be sure I get an A!

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  54. Thanks, Melissa. I always enjoy hearing you speak or reading your writing tips for nonfiction authors. You are very generous and always helpful to developing writers.

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  55. I'm new to NF, so this is all great info for me. THanks!

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  56. Thank you, Melissa. I have ideas for some NF books, and am looking forward to learning more about how to approach them this month.

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  57. Great post! Thanks Melissa!
    I hadn't thought about how historical subjects are rarely covered in an expository format, but it makes sense. My current MG WIP is expository and incorporates both science and history on one subject. I haven't seen this done before. Is it frowned upon in general?

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    1. A great model of MC expository literature that blends science and history is the work of Sarah Albee.

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    2. I was thinking of hers as more historical, but you are right, they are definitely a blend. I will take a closer look, thanks!

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  58. Clear and informative as always, thanks for getting the ball rolling. After reading your post. I went back over my Storystorm ideas from the last month and considered how they might be presented in other styles. So helpful!

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  59. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. It's great to hear of the need for social studies and history. I am anxious to check out your upcoming book on the 5 types of nonfiction.

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  61. Thank you, Melissa, for this lovely launch and wonderful titles to explore. I so appreciate all your knowledge:)

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  62. Woo-hoo! Thank you Melissa Stewart. Can't wait to dive into your new book, "Non Fiction Writers Digs Deep."

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  63. Thank you, Melissa! Very interesting and helpful post.

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  64. It's exciting to hear that kids want expository and that editors are starting to pick more of it up. Thanks for the post!

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  65. Excellent post to begin our month, Melissa. I’m excited for your book on the same topic!

    Question-do you think these five categories cover everything? Do you ever come across an oddball or crossover book that doesn’t fit neatly?

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    1. Yes, I call the crossover titles "blended" nonfiction. Here's more info about them:
      https://www.melissa-stewart.com/img2018/pdfs/Whats_Blended_Nonfiction.pdf

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    2. Thank you for this great resource!

      Question- If I was querying a blended nonfiction book that I belive is a mix of browsable and traditional would I describe it as

      "blended (browsable and traditional) middle grade nonfiction"

      or some other way?

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  66. This is my first time attending, and I am so happy because from this very first post I can tell that I am about to learn A LOT!
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

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  67. This is helpful, Melissa. I will enjoy the Day One activity!

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  68. Rich posting with splendid activities.

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  69. Thanks for a great post and helpful activity. This is definitely an exciting time to be part of the innovation and evolution, as you say, of NF KidLit. Looking forward to a great month and thanks for all that you do in the NF world!

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  70. Melissa, I appreciate your mention of the lack of history and social studies expository literature. When I was choosing books for my library to meet my student's interests, it was difficult to find materials for them. It wasn't in our curriculum; I am glad that is changing. I love your challenge of finding a way to creatively combine the appeal of browsable NF with outstanding writing.

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  71. Can you share an example of expository NF literature for middle grade readers? I'm curious what that looks like. The examples of expository NF here seem to target younger readers (as best I can tell w/o physical copies of those books). I'm drawing a blank on what it would like for readers grades 5-8.
    Thanks!

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    1. Sarah Albee writes wonderful MG expository literature that looks at the history of the world through different lenses.

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  72. Thanks Melissa for a wonderful post that gets us think & evaluating NF. Excited to be spending a whole month focused on NF.

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  73. I love NF and my Kindergarten Kids did too! I have several NF manuscripts and many more ideas. I look forward to a deep dive in NF this month! Thank you so much!

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  74. So... as I said just a minute ago NF rocks from Kindergarten on up. I love writing NF and look forward to learning more about NF this month... That previous comment was mine but went through as unknown!

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  75. Wow! What an awesome start to this adventure! Thank you, Melissa, for these valuable insights. As I work with kids at school, I am so delighted for them to have all these amazing, engaging resources. I would have much preferred, as a slow reader in the 1960s, books that allowed me to take little bites here and there; long paragraphs with no or insipid illustrations discouraged me as a reader.

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  76. Wonderful post. I'm excited to learn more about NF. The classification system seems helpful. I was challenged by the activity. Curious to know if I got them correct.

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  77. Very helpful post! I'm not clear on Expository Literature vs. Traditional.

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    1. The links provide additional info that should help you understand the difference more clearly. In a nutshell, expository literature has focused topics, innovative format and text structure, and richer language.

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  78. I didn't realize how much children gravitate toward expository writing. That part was a big eye-opener to me. Thank you for sharing this information!

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  79. Great activity and wonderful foundation for this 28 day adventure!
    Guess I grew up loving a browesable and traditional mix: those vividly illustrated Little Golden Encyclopedias of Knowledge. Mom would buy enough groceries each week to get a new volume for 59 cents every Wednesday at Safeway. I would consume each one.

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    1. You aren't alone, Damon. In nonfiction Writers Dig Deep, several authors talk about reading the encyclopedia for fun.
      https://store.ncte.org/book/nonfiction-writers-dig-deep-50-award-winning-childrens-book-authors-share-secret-engaging#_=_

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  80. Who knew that NF can be written in different (and entertaining) ways? I love how you explained the five types and gave examples. Thanks, Melissa!

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  81. A stellar start to the NF Fest! Thank you, Melissa, for succinctly sharing so much valuable information here.

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  82. Lots of great info and thanks for the exercise! Looking forward to a month of posts!

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  83. I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction (for grown-ups), but have only written kids’ fiction. Thanks for this information! I’m ready to begin the kids’ nonfiction journey!

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  84. Very helpful! I prefer to write non-fiction, and I was having trouble with describing my picture book ideas. Thanks!

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  85. Thanks - I love having precise language to talk about NF books! This is just what I've been looking for.

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  86. Lots of fantastic information! Thanks so much for getting NF Fest off to a great start, Melissa!

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  87. Always fascinating to see what Melissa has to say, she really digs deep into her research.

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  88. Fascinating, Melissa! I was especially shocked that expository NF is so popular with kids. Can't help thinking that it may be because the facts are easier to find for school assignments. Although reading the comment by Damon above does remind me how much I enjoyed perusing encyclopedias as a kid and how much my son gravitated to the browsable picture books.

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    1. Research shows that many students choose expository nf for pleasure reading.

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  89. Great information. I love seeing the statistics that back up the idea that kids love nonfiction.

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  90. Thanks for championing NF, Melissa! I'm glad they're catching up with what kids really want to read. I love both reading & writing expository NF!

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  91. Great post, Melissa! You incorporated lots of good information!

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  92. Never considered commercial vs. literary in nonfiction but appreciate your info (and the the link to more in depth discussion). Thanks for making me think outside my writing box!

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  93. Melissa, thank you for finding fresh ways to share this. So many ADULTS need to know this...and it's important for us NF writers, too. Thank you!

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  94. Thanks for kicking off the 2021 NF Fest!

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  95. Thank you for all the great information! Can you suggest any authors or titles of picture books that would be good examples of a historical event or biography that uses expository NF? Or, would narrative still be more common for PBs? (I've seen your note about Sarah Albee as a good reference for what look like early readers or books that skew slightly older, so will check her out, as well.) Thank you!

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    1. The Next President by Kate Messner is a great example of an expository literature history PB.

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  96. I love the way you analyze categories and track trends.

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  97. Melissa, thank you for your very informative post. Makes sense why young readers really like expository NF. I didn't even remember how I used to read through the World Books on my childhood shelf until you mentioned it in the comments. I also appreciate your comment that, "NF with a built in story works well as narrative NF. But if there's no story, then you need to consider the other four categories." Those statements and the exercise are giving me some aha moments. Thank you!

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  98. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing the love of nonfiction.

    Reading books in this genre satisfies curious minds. Adults need to understand the nonfiction genre is not classroom textbook information.

    Suzy Leopold

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  99. This is terrific information. I captured the graphic for future use.

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  100. Thank you for helping me realize the importance of understanding what nonfiction writing is as I continue to pursue my desire to publish nonfiction works.

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  101. Today's post and exercise is a whole class in itself, with the reading & homework, plus other posts I've found in other blogs on this topic.

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  102. Thank you Melissa! These are fantastic resources. This will be a bookmark page for me!!

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  103. So much great information! Thanks, Melissa.

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  104. This is really a helpful post. Thanks!

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  105. This post has allowed me to focus my NF in areas that I now know the market/kids are looking for while still remaining true to my style of writing and areas I have expertise in. Thank you Melissa for sharing so much knowledge in one post. You've given me renewed confidence that I'm heading in the right direction. Dee Crick.

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  106. Thank you for this very helpful post!

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  107. Wow, one post into the challenge and my perceptions of children’s nf have already become so much clearer. I always knew about the variety of nf titles but I never realized that they each belonged to their own separate subgenres. I’ll definitely be paying more attention to the new nf titles we get at the library where I work and seeing if I can figure out which category they fall into.

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    1. That's a great idea. You can also try sorting books with kids. Here's an activity:
      https://www.melissa-stewart.com/img2018/pdfs/5_Kinds_of_Nonfiction/3_Introducing_5KNF_Activity.pdf

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  108. I love easy/fun activities. Thanks!

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  109. Thank you for what the market is in need of and the discussion how to tell the difference. Love the activity.

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  110. Thank you for for filling my head with ideas. This post provides a great learning experience that is so important. I’ve used many of your books during my career as an educator.

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    1. so glad you found this helpful, and thanks for sharing my books with young readers.

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  111. Some say save the best for last. I am delighted to see this group bucked that maxim and had you go first. Thank you for your wisdom and service to the nonfiction community!

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  112. This was really eye-opening and packed full of great information! As someone who is completely new to NF writing, this blog has been very helpful in explaining the different kinds of NF out there. Thank you!

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  113. Thank you for sharing these non-fiction examples and styles. At this moment, I am overwhelmed but I feel positive that all the information shared and multiple activities from this day forward will help me sort out my thoughts. So looking forward to learning more.

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    1. Don't fret. You're exploring an exciting new world, so it will take a bit of time to get acclimated. You can do it!

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    2. Now I wish 2021 is a leap year or that we can add two or three more days to February. No wading in the shallow end this month. Between this Fest and the 12x12 book club’s choice of your book NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP, this learning experience was like cannonballing into deep waters. Now I don’t want to get out.

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  114. So comprehensive. Thank you for the descriptions and helpful exercises.

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  115. Thanks for this wealth of information, Melissa!

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  116. Thanks...very helpful for a NF author!

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  117. I'm already playing catch-up, but what a great way to start! I think I finally understand the differences, so thank you!

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  118. I'm playing catch up, too, and wow! what a blast off ! Thanks.

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  119. I keep referring people to this article because it's so helpful!

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  120. You are such a great source of clarity on all things nonfiction. Thanks.

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  121. Excellent post, Melissa! It's informative and helpful! Thank you!

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  122. I tend to gravitate toward narrative nonfiction, but, that said, I love finding factoids in browsable and active nonfiction. Traditional NF is least likely to interest me, unless it's already an area of interest. But I have a nephew who's all NF all the time, and he grills me on the types of nonfiction I want to send him. I think his teacher is doing a fabulous job.

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  123. I prefer narrative nonfiction. But when I was in elementary school, I remember reading our family's set of encyclopedias.

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    1. You'd be surprised how many nonfiction authors loved reading encyclopedias as kids.

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  124. Thank you for this post - so important to understand the rules of NF

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  125. Melissa,
    Your work in classifying nonfiction helps me to know which area to move into. I appreciate following you on your blogs.

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  126. I found this really helpful. Thank you. I'm really interested in exploring more about expository literature for history. I can't wait to read the book you wrote with Marlene. I was lucky enough to work with her once upon a time. ��

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  127. Melissa, thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us once again. So far, I have been a narrative nonfiction writer, but I hope to expand my horizons as soon as I find that must-write topic for me!

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  128. I always learn a lot from you. Thanks for your generosity, Melissa!

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  129. Thank you, Melissa! So excited to delve into NF!

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