Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's Selling in Children's Non-Fiction and Why? (Children's Book Week)

Once again, prior to the post, please sign up below to win gifts. Also, take a look at the six blogs of the other Guardian Angel authors participating in the Children's Book Week Celebration listed at the end of this post.

Non-Fiction.  A word that sends chills down the backs of many readers, as they flee into the fiction department! 

Cover art for AMELIA LOSTNot to be feared, this is a genre, albeit large and encompassing, that has much to offer, particularly in children's books.

 They take children to foreign lands or even outer space, introduce them to long-deceased historical figures, interest them in a new found hobby, or educate them about the wonders of science.

A Butterfly Is PatientTeachers, and I speak from experience, find non-fiction books to aid their discussions of almost every subject.  Interestingly, parents find that they learn just as much as their kids when they read the pages of quality children's non-fiction.

What qualities, then should we look for when choosing for our kids and/or students?  Here are a few tips:

Cover art for BILLY THE KID1. Accuracy and objectivity are prime and must not be overlooked when buying.
2. The subject should not be trivialized or glossed over, leaving holes in the information.
3. Examine the Index, Glossary or Author's Page/s.  These give organization and credence to the topic.
4. Pay attention to the shape (no, I'm not making this up) of the book:  Tall and thin for a reluctant reader. Short and thick books give the impression of serious information.

I chose Candace Fleming's book Amelia Lost as a fine example of thoroughly written nonfiction for kids. A Butterfly is Patient by Diana Hutts Aston is a gorgeous mixture of science the beauty of this world.  Billy the Kid by Michael Wallis is an objective, non-sensationalistic biography of the legendary outlaw.

Don't run from the Non-fiction section of the bookstore!  No telling what treasures are waiting to be found there.

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  1. Nancy, I think children's non-fiction is a great way for an adult to become familiar with a subject without being overwhelmed. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. I agree, Barbara. And because the adults are "helping" thre kids, it isn't intimidating or threatening to the adults.


  2. Non-fiction has always seemed a little scary to me when it comes to writing. Thanks for breaking it down into bite-size pieces...not so scary now!

  3. Hi Nancy,

    Non-fiction written with a story element is so much more exciting than standard text books. Great article and examples!

    All the best,

  4. Yes, I know what you mean, Sharon. I really think it is just in the doing and following some rules. At least that is what happened to me when I began.

    Thanks for your comment!

  5. Just found your blog and so glad that I did. I am a former teacher, mom of 2 boys, and farmwife, and I want to write childrens non-fiction about farms. I am just at the VERY beginning of the process, doing some "mental prewriting" and I have a lot to learn! I'll be coming back to your blog as a resource (and would love it if you'd visit me at

  6. I would urge you to follow your dream of non-fiction, and writing about farms is terrific now, as so many kids today have not a clue about them...

    I will visit your blog, and thanks for visiting and your comments!