Giving a Little Love to NF

Sometimes, when we think of promoting or handselling books to kids in our reader's advisory work, we concentrate overwhelmingly on our fiction collections. But it's worth giving some attention to non-fiction as well as we help kids. It not only increases circulation in that collection area but also is eye-opening and interest-opening for kids.

There has been so much attractive non-fiction published over the past ten-twenty years, it's easy to put kids and information books together. Just looking at the bright, attractive wealth of independent non-fiction titles, there's alot to promote.

[[True confession: I am seriously addicted to non-fiction. It has long been my favorite collection development area as well as the type of reading I am most passionate about.]]

We have had success highlighting non-fiction over the years that has tempted kids into trying -and liking - these dewey-ed books. Here are just a few ways:

NF Book Bundles - 3 or 4 non-fiction books on a subject that includes a bright label (Big Teeth; Strong People: Heroes; Science; Let's Build) let's us mix and match attractive NF from different subject categories together. These mini-bundles are fun to create and popular with kids.

Booktalks - when we booktalk to groups or at schools we always mix nonfiction and fiction titles together, often looking for a common subject theme. It's a great spot to include poetry and biographies as well!

Face-out Displays - Lots of it! As staffers work their way through non-fiction, I always encourage them to bypass the formulaic, series non-fiction and instead look for interesting subjects; eye-candy covers and titles that might pique the interest of kids. The more we replace a book in empty spaces, the better it is - it means kids are grabbing the good stuff!

Class or Day Care Collection Packs - putting non-fiction with fiction selections in packs that go out to daycares or classrooms is a great way to promote information books. I always look for short books with easily digested info-bits to tempt readers to pick up a non-fiction.

Stealth/Passive Initiatives - we make sure non-fiction gets a space in these. Whether it's pick-a-stick, gnomes on both fiction AND non-fiction collections, or NF included in Mystery Read bags, we make sure we don't stay fiction-centric in our support of great books.

Reader's Advisory - when kids are looking for books, we also check with them on subjects they are interested in and head over to non-fiction as well as fiction. Kids who love fantasy books often gravitate to medieval history books; steampunkers see how inventions are linked to their genre love; etc. And when fiction and graphic novels can't satisfy a reluctant reader, delving into a non-fiction subject area of interest often does the trick to spark some reading enthusiasm.

What has worked for you to highlight your non-fiction? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. I always include at least one nonfiction book in storytimes and outreach storytimes. When we moved to neighborhoods I integrated the easy nonfiction with the picture books. I put nonfiction in book bundles and mix it into displays. I also have a lot of "sneaky" nonfiction that I put into juvenile fiction. Not perfect cataloging perhaps, but kids find the Magic Tree House fact books, I survived true stories, DK Adventures (which blend fiction and nonfiction) much easier that way. I pretty much buy any nonfiction blends I see, they're perfect for reluctant readers or kids who only want to read nonfiction and their parents are pressuring them to read "real" books.

  2. Do you have a list of the nonfiction book bundles you have? We have book bundles for preschoolers and we often put nonfiction into those but I like this idea for the schoo lage kids.

    1. We don't have lists. We literally just walk through the shelves and look for interesting. kid-friendly NF - Big Teeth (dinosaurs and tigers!); heroes (biographies), arts, sports...just whatever 3-4 books catch our fancy. They move pretty quickly and we are making up new bundles a couple of times a day to fill it in!

    2. So you don't have the tags pre-made with the theme, you just write the theme in on the paper. I get it now. Thanks :)