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I was thinking about how much elementary students love the Who Would Win? series. I never really looked closely at it but when I did, I realized what a great mentor it is. There is more to each segment than I realized and there is lots there for both readers and writers. So I’ve started to take a look at other nonfiction books with a Question and Answer format, thinking critically about these books for both readers and writers. There is no set way a Q/A book is written so when we study them, we can learn so much about craft moves, layout, organization, etc. This week’s Text Set will take a look at informational books that have a Question/Answer format.
The Truth About…series is one of my favorite new nonfiction series. I discovered Whooo Knew? last year and was thrilled to see two more books in the series. Each of these books focuses on a different animal/living creature. Each two page spread answers a question about the topic such as “Do Dogs Sweat?”. The question is then answered in 2-3 short paragraphs followed by some extra details, photos and information. Each book also includes a glossary, extra information and an activity. This is a great series to begin a Q/A format study as they are very engaging, there is a lot to each page and there are a variety of access points for readers. And this author gives writers lots of new things to try!
These two books What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? and Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Plastic give pages of questions on a topic. Even though the answers are quick, each page is worth studying for the ways the questions work together under a common topic. Part of writing good Q/A nonfiction is the ways in which the questions connect and fit under a bigger umbrella. These books are perfect to think more about that as both readers and writers. Sometimes I worry that kids love these books to just read facts but don’t do the deeper thinking of the umbrella ideas being shared. Both skills are so important. (Plus, what is more fun than a lift-the-flap informational book?)
I love the work of Nicholas St. Fleur (he does some kids informational infographic work in NY Times). His work is such a great mentor for the ways information can be organized to support reader understanding. His book. Did You Know ?Dinosaur is perfect to study… Young readers often love to spend lots of times with books like this but it is critical that we teach them how to navigate all that is on the page. As writers, thinking about ways to organize information on a 2 page spread is critical whether you are writing Q/A or some other format. Lots to learn from this one!
How Come? Every Kid’s Science Questions Explained gives readers and writers much longer answers to the questions posed. It’s important for our readers to see that most questions can’t be answered with a single sentence and this book helps to see how explanations give deep understanding to a concept. It will take stamina and strategy to read these and some would make great read aloud. As writers, there is lots to learn from these–great leads, solid explanations, intentional language and more. These are short texts that can also be used in small group work.
Writers are always trying to add humor to their books and this series by Jess Keating is a great model for thinking about ways to do that effectively. Keating shares so much interesting information but also embeds humor in a way that adds to the experience in Eat Your Rocks, Crocs and Set Your Alarm, Sloth.
This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.