Guest post by Alexis O’Neill
There’s a new award that shines a light on a formerly unrepresented class in early childhood books – the Correll Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Informational Text.
This award will given to books that are written for the purpose of “informing the reader,” and employing a variety of structures, or features — a table of contents, an index, bold or italicized text, glossaries, captions, charts, graphs and more. In other words, these books would make use of variety of structures to assist the reader in finding information quickly and efficiently.
What the Correll Award actually celebrates is text that is generally non-linear, non-narrative, and encyclopedic – reference books, in other words. It’s text that children can access from any entry point in the book and still derive meaning, unlike a narrative that depends on building fact-upon-fact for a thematic, but accurate, picture of a person, event, animal, phenomenon and more. And although the American Library Association, for example, bestows other nonfiction awards each year (Note: Here are six nonfiction awards you should know.), none celebrate reference books this age group, so the Correll Award is doing a service to readers and writers alike.
Winner of the 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus award for nonfiction picture books is Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade
by Melissa Sweet, (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
But here’s the rub – defining the word, “informational” as a sub-group of “non-fiction” texts is confusing – and this confusion reigns in online discussions of how to define nonfiction. It’s doubtful that we’ll arrive at 100% agreement on this. And it’s certain that the desire to create subgenres, grouped in countless variations, will continue. Yet we need to be celebrating that nonfiction is getting the attention it deserves in the CCSS and hoping that more awards will be created to recognize the outstanding qualities of the many forms of nonfiction texts.
Alexis O’Neill, children’s book author and writing teacher, can be found at
www.alexisoneill.com and www.SchoolVisitExperts.com