Common Core: The Fuss Over Non-Fiction


Q: There is no budget to buy new books at my school. How can I tell which of the books we already have are the best to use?.
In an article for Reading Rockets, Kathy Stephens offers some tips for evaluating informational texts. Use these as a guide as you examine the books you already have access to in your school or classroom library.

  • Consider the cover of the book. Does it have a short, enticing title? Does it have crisp illustrations or photos to pique a child's interest?

  • Is the topic or content of high interest? Does it include intriguing facts? Is the content accurate and reliable? Has the author included references, sources used, experts consulted, etc? Are there links to or bibliographies for additional information?

  • Do the photographs or illustrations and accompanying captions add to the understanding of the text? Are the illustrations large enough and clear, without being too crowded or busy?

  • Consider the way the book is organized. Does the spacing and placement of words encourage browsing? Can the reader move smoothly between pictures and text? Are there clear divisions between topics? Does the book provide supports such as italics or bolding, headings, a glossary, index, etc?

  • This rubric from the New York City Department of Education may be a useful tool when considering what informational texts should be considered complex texts as well.

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