Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Elements of a Nonfiction Booktalk

Not long ago, I saw this list of rec­om­mend­ed com­po­nents for a book­talk:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Main char­ac­ter
  • Plot bit

And boy, did it frost my britch­es.

Why? Because the per­son who wrote it assumed the book­talk­er was rec­om­mend­ing a fic­tion title. What about non­fic­tion? It’s impor­tant to book­talk these titles too because many kids pre­fer non­fic­tion.

So here’s my list of sug­gest­ed com­po­nents for a non­fic­tion book­talk:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Audi­ence
  • Cat­e­go­ry
  • Text struc­ture
  • Writ­ing style
  • Voice choice
  • Con­tent bit

Great Monkey RescueAnd here are a cou­ple of exam­ples:

The Great Mon­key Res­cue: Sav­ing the Gold­en Lion Tamarins by San­dra Markle is a spe­cial­ized non­fic­tion title per­fect­ly suit­ed for stu­dents in grades 4–7. Sand­wiched between a nar­ra­tive begin­ning and end­ing, engag­ing expos­i­to­ry text with a prob­lem-solu­tion struc­ture describes how sci­en­tists and Brazil­ian cit­i­zens worked togeth­er to save endan­gered mon­keys from extinc­tion. Vibrant pho­tos, a dynam­ic design, and rich back mat­ter fur­ther enhance the book.

Creature FeaturesCrea­ture Fea­tures: 25 Ani­mals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenk­ins and Robin Page is an engag­ing con­cept pic­ture book writ­ten for stu­dents in grades K-3, but old­er stu­dents will enjoy it too. Appeal­ing ani­mal por­traits, first-per­son nar­ra­tion with occa­sion­al bits of humor, a fun ques­tion-and-answer text struc­ture, and inter­view-style for­mat make this book unique. Young read­ers won’t be able to resist the cor­nu­copia of facts about how an animal’s facial fea­tures help it sur­vive.

Why not invite your stu­dents to cre­ate a book­talk for their favorite non­fic­tion title?

One Response to Elements of a Nonfiction Booktalk

  1. Carla Killough McClafferty November 5, 2018 at 9:04 am #

    Excel­lent points, Melis­sa!

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