It's Not "Just the Facts, Ma'am" - Celebrating Info Books

In a word of alternative facts, our information books (aka non-fiction; factual books) should be front and center in our celebration of literacy and reading with our kids. After last year on the Sibert committee, reading and being delighted by so much great NF, I'd be remiss not to encourage everyone to leave behind the bland series nonfiction books and dive into and purchase the great info books being published. Below are some tips I'm sharing on the road this week (the slide deck is linked at the end). A big thanks to the Great Brian at PUBYAC for their willingness to share their ideas. You all rock!

Major review journals, publishers catalogs, hands-on book looking are all ways to identify the amazing fact books coming out. If you have a small budget, wait for the end of the year "Best of" lists, CCBC Choices, and the award winners like ALSC's Sibert Award, the YALSA Excellence in NonFiction Award and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. Don't forget to check awards like Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, South Asia Book Awards, American Indian Children's Book Award and Americas Award to find more quality informational books.

Definitely weed but don't use the "informational books with a copyright older than five years should be tossed" rule - or mis-rule as the case may be. Quality children's information books are made to last. If you have a copy of Franklyn Branley's 1987 gem The Moon Seems to Change  or the D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths or Jean Fritz's Homecoming, you're still good to go. The information, the writing and the clarity are still as good as when these books were first published. Be selective in what you weed to make sure that you keep an interesting, eye-catching and browsable collection. By all means weed out material that is out of date - but do it book by book.

Dewey doesn't really do it for kids. If you can, consider combining kids information and fiction picture books together. Or if that's too radical, simplify Cutters to first letter of author's last name only. Or back to radical, consider truncating Dewey numbers and doing a little creative cuttering. Football can go from 796.332 to 796 F (for football!) or Wisconsin and Minnesota could change from 977.5 and 977.6 to 977 WI and 977 MN!

Consider putting poetry books with their subject area rather than hidden in 811. Who doesn't want a cat poetry book with their Abyssinian book? Ashley Bryan's new Freedom Over Me and Carol Boston Weatherford's Freedom in Congo Square would be amazing with other informational books on slavery in Amercan history. Why not put author biographies by their books. Melissa Sweet's Some Writer would be right at home by E.B. White's fiction. Consider breaking out easy NF or quality series NF (Let's Read and Find Out; Gail Gibbons; Scientists at Work; etc) into permanent display shelving to highlight them for kids

Don't be fiction-centric. Check with children about their interests and lead them over to those info books! Include information books in outreach collections and booktalks; in SLP book prizes or 1000 Books Before K book selections. Make sure these are your best quality books in high interest areas and kids will flock to them.

Include info books in storytimes and programs. In information-based, STEM and STEAM programs, the possibilities are endless in highlighting non-fiction. Passive programs that bring NF to the fore (scavenger hunts, pick-a-stick with NF numbers etc) are great ways to high;ight your robust info book collections.

More face-out and shelf top shelving
Try bundling 3-4 info books together on a similar subject with a rubber band
Do "Mystery Reads" or Blind Dates with a Book" and be sure to include NF
Make sure info books are part of all displays
Do create info book only displays, changing them out monthly or even weekly ("Fact of the Week")
Use social media or podcasting to do quick promotions of new cool info books
Tie in your info books to media trends (Pokemon characters can have books about their special interest - singing, electricity, fire - near their pictures).

Stop here to see the slidedeck with more pix and tips! And let me know YOUR tips and tricks to make your information book collection mighty!

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