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Ideal Non-Fiction Criterion

March 8, 2008

I like to make lists.  In my life I have many lists that I won’t go into on this blog, but you can see my ideal non-fiction list. 

 Ideal Non-Fiction:

1) Easy to read-clear with few questionable sentences. When I finish a paragraph I don’t want to wonder what the author meant.

2) Well organized. Organization lends itself to readability.

3) Includes diagrams and pictures to help illustrate concepts and ideas. Illustrations are sometimes key to explaining hard to understand concepts.

4) Well indexed. Sometimes the indexing of a book will determine whether or not a student doing a report will borrow it or not. People, places, times, events are key to a good index.

5) Accurate. Misinformation is worse than no information.

6) Entertaining but not confusing. Humor in non-fiction is great as long as it isn’t confusing. Humor in writing takes great skill. Very few writers are able to pull it off.

Common Pitfalls:

1) Tries to cover too much and oversimplifies leaving out important facts and information.

2) Series books sometimes gloss over research with broad statements and use a cookie cutter formula to crank out titles. (Writing a book is not like taking a written test in school, you don’t get partial points for semi-accurate information. If you are an author, you should be professional about it and thoroughly research your facts.)

3) Don’t editorialize. Non-fiction should stay factual. There are exceptions to this of course but for the most part, it’s hard enough for young readers to distinguish between objectiveness and subjectiveness.

4) References are necessary. If students have to put in all their reference sources so should authors.

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