The discussion about the differences between nonfiction and informational text is continuing in the quest to understand the ramifications of the Common Core. I asked two children’s book authors to comment on the differences from their point of view. Here, Melissa Stewart, author of over 150 children’s nonfiction books, chimes in on the issue here and in a post tomorrow. Next week, look for more on the issue from from Alexis O’Neill.Guest post by Melissa Stewart
Let’s face it. I don’t think anyone involved in the world of children’s literature is satisfied with the term “nonfiction.” After all, it’s ridiculous to define something by what it isn’t.
As a result, many people have suggested alternatives. I’ve done so on my personal blog. Several other nonfiction authors have tossed out suggestions on the INK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) blog, and Marc Aronson has made a strong case for the term “reality books” on Nonfiction Matters, a blog sponsored by School Library Journal.
True books, real books, reality books, fact books—none of these alternatives has stuck. But then there’s the term “information books,” a.k.a. “informational books.” This one has stuck to a certain extent. I don’t like this label because it sounds too stodgy, too much like Brussel’s sprouts. Read/eat it because it’s good for you. Bleck!
And now it seems that the term, which was proposed as a solution, has become a problem. A big, big problem. Instead of using it as a REPLACEMENT for the term “nonfiction” some people are now defining it as a subset of nonfiction. Double bleck!
Here’s the deal. There’s no difference between nonfiction books and informational books. Like “true books,” “real books,” and” reality books” (my personal favorite), they are titles in which the content is 100 percent true and verifiable. That’s it. That’s all. It’s really simple.
Nonfiction (or any other name we might choose to use) includes books about science and history and math and the Arts. It includes biographies and how-to books, radio interviews and documentaries, newsletters and newspaper articles. And it includes materials that express personal truths–letters, journals, speeches, memoirs, personal essays, and opinion pieces.
The good news is that Common Core’s definition of nonfiction/information text is broad as well as rigorous. So you can use it with confidence.