Also known as "informational text." When you want to know the facts -- the who, what, when, where, why and how of people, places, things and events...
To inform and engage...
What are the qualities of good nonfiction?
Accuracy always tops the list. Is the author a subject area specialist or if not, has he or she done the necessary homework, the research to write authoritatively on a topic?
Clarity ranks up there on the criteria list. Clarity involves choice of language, well-presented explanations, logical organization of the material and an understanding of the intended audience.
An interesting writing style is essential. Nonfiction books are expected to both inform and engage, so the content should be delivered in a skillful, entertaining manner, whether that involves an imaginative or unusual view of the topic, clever use of language, or a sense of humor. It probably helps for the author to be enthusiastic about the subject!
Access tools are also crucial. Good nonfiction generally includes a table of contents, an index, and often a glossary to help readers locate specific information quickly and efficiently.
High quality illustrations should complement the text. Drawings, photographs, diagrams, and time lines definitely enhance children's understanding.
So, getting all those goodies in one package isn't asking too much, is it? Whether the subject is history, biography, math, science... children deserve the best informational text to satisfy their curiosity and inspire new questions to ask and answer along the way!
The Sibert Medal
The Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA) awards the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal each year to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States. The award is named in honor of Mr. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois.
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