Thank you Mary Ann, Myra, Mark for your suggestion of upper-elementary NF. I’m giving a talk this morning on NF and so the selection criteria — if not the list of examples — is on my mind. I think we might break up NF for these ages into different kinds of books that offer different pleasures — entry points. The first obvious fact is that books for this age are generally very well illustrated. That does not mean they have a bunch of illustrations, or a photoshop format of background print, facing sidebar, marching through the book. Rather it means that the best books have really been hand-crafted — with a great deal of thought about the selection and placement of every image. So look for books that surround the reader in a carefully crafted visual journey. The second is writing — Myra pointed out that sense test: how many of the reader’s senses does the author engage? The third, though, is quite different from the previous two. There are readers — of any age, but especially in upper elementary — who want unadorned facts — the Trading Card mentalit: the world stripped down to stats. I’d feature a slection of those Book of Records, or Airplanes of WWII compendia — you want to show your readers that you understand the spectrum of choices that could appeal to them. In that vein, I’d add a small how-to section geared to your readers — make money, handle a pet, draw aliens, perhaps — depending on the kids you work with — make a youtube video, etc. And then the next group, dear to my heart, are kids who want to read to get new ideas — to have their mind’s opened — books designed to provoke them about the version of political, social, ecological, issues that are suited to their age. Remember that it is a pleasure to care — to be moved, to find a sense of purpose in beginning to see a way that the world needs to be changed, and that you can begin to see ways to take action.
I’m rushing to make an early train, but readers, are there other categories of books (with examples if you have time) that you would add to this breakdown of NF pleasures? I have not written by topic — nature, science, math, history — all of which can come in the various forms listed above. But have I missed a key area of interest in this pre-dawn typing? If so, please let us know.