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Children's Literature: Nonfiction

Research guide for Children's Literature

What is Nonfiction?

Nonfiction? Informational? Narrative nonfiction?

What is the correct term to use?

Nonfiction is any text that is factual. 

"Informational text refers to information about the natural or social world, typically from someone presumed to know that information to someone presumed not to, with particular linguistic features such as headings and technical vocabulary tohelp accomplish that purpose. By our definition, therefore, biography is nonfiction but is not informational text, because its primary purpose is to convey information about an individual’slife. Procedural or how-to text is also nonfiction, but not informational text because its primary purpose is to tell someone how to do something, not convey information about some thing." (Scholastic,p.16)

"Nonfiction narrative or “true stories” are also nonfiction but not informational text, because their primary purpose is to tell of an event or series of events that have occurred." (Scholastic, p.16)



Nonfiction Text Features

What is important and what is not? By learning the characteristics and features of nonfiction, readers can construct more meaning from the text.

   Nonfiction Text Features




 to identify a picture or photograph, and/or its parts.


 understand exactly what something looks like


 understand a picture or photograph


 understand the size of something by comparing it to the size of   something  familiar

Cut Aways

 understand something by looking at it from the inside


 understand where things are in the world

Types of   Print

 understand the varying degree of importance


 see details in something small

Table of   Contents

 identify key topics in the order they are presented


 define words found in the text


 an alphabetical list of most everything covered in the text, with page numbers


*Source: The Reading Lady

Examples of Nonfiction in the CRC


Jackdaws are collections of primary source materials. Jackdaws, a British name for a relative of a crow that collects brightly colored objects, can be used to help students make connections to historical periods and events.  These collections often include facsimiles of the following types of materials:



newspaper articles



time lines


sheet music




The Curriculum Resource Center has many commercially created Jackdaw sets. The collection of Jackdaws can be accessed through the catalog by using keyword searching for historical periods or events or by using Jackdaws as a keyword. There is a physical list of the collection on the shelf above the Jackdaw collection.

Teachers can make their own Jackdaw collections for literature to be used in their classrooms.  Each book will determine its own specific items to collect.