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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

This Is Too Much Fun — What 7th Graders Think NF Should Be Called

In my school visits I have taken to suggesting a contest to rename NF by what it is, not what it is not. Here are the most truthful (not all positive) but at times spectacular responses from a recent day spent with 7th Graders in North Carolina:

Renaming Nonfiction
I would rename nonfiction “ice cream” because it either gets better and better, like adding toppings, or it gets worse, as in, it melts. –
It should be called “public reality books.”-
I would call nonfiction “true books.”
I would call it the “true life of nonfiction reading.” –
I would rename nonfiction true books because nonfiction is all about true stuff and not about fictitious stuff.
I think it should be renamed true writing because nonfiction means that it is true and fiction is not true. –
I would call it “truthful history” because the information is real and it’s from either past or present. –
I like Marc Aronson’s idea of calling them “reality books” because it’s just like reality. I like the name.
I would rename them “books of knowledge” because when Mr. Aronson was talking to us, he said that nonfiction is really just the knowledge of everyone.
I would call it “trumors” because it stands for true rumors. You’re spreading the truth.
I would rename nonfiction “books of truth and facts.”
I think we should call it “true blue” because it’s true and sometimes it can come out of the blue. For example, Sierra’s book is about potbellied pigs, which is kind of random.
I would call it “real fiction” or “question books” or “question fiction.” Dr. Aronson said that we should keep asking questions and that’s what leads to nonfiction.
I renamed it “riction” because it’s real fiction.
I would name it “books of opportunity.” –
I would rename it “life in plain ink” because nonfiction is REAL because it’s what happens in real life and it’s in ink.
I would call it “universal text” because it explains what happens in the universe and it explains what happens every day.
I’d call it “abfake” because they’re not fake.

And some of their more general comments on NF:

I love nonfiction because it is based on real events and is about the world. It is helpful because you can get a lot of knowledge about it.
I think nonfiction is fascinating and very interesting. It’s my favorite genre because it’s full of facts and ideas.
I learned from Marc Aronson that nonfiction isn’t always boring, it can be fun sometimes.
I think that nonfiction books are sometimes boring but some of them are really exciting. Maybe by looking at the title, finding something interesting will depend on what you like.
I think nonfiction is really good. I read like a nonfiction book a day because they teach you stuff. The more you learn the better, and you can’t lose knowledge unless you get amnesia.
Marc Aronson to me was really confusing. He kept using stories to back up his facts. The stories confused me. He talked about nonfiction like it was a missing link, like with the tall tale of John Henry.
I learned that nonfiction is all that ever happens in the universe. –
Nonfiction seems interesting to me because it can draw your attention like fiction books and it can seem fake. It can seem unreal. –
It can sometimes be boring, but can tell about interesting facts and be somewhat exciting. –
Books help you grow and give you opportunities. They help you grow academically.
You should pick a book about a topic that INTERESTS you. –
Nonfiction is a fun and persuasive, informative and entertaining genre. –
If I had to choose from all the books on the shelf, I wouldn’t choose nonfiction. I don’t think nonfiction has a lot of creativity.
When I think of nonfiction books, I think of boring books. It depends on what you like, though. You should choose a book on what you like. There aren’t that many varieties of books.
I think nonfiction is good because you can learn things from it and you can also see things from different perspectives and learn others’ points of view from their opinions.


  1. Cindy Dobrez says:

    I’ve been doing lots of genre booktalks in which the students have to identify the genre after my booktalk. They have the worst time identifying non-fiction. They often pick historical fiction. We had decided this week, without hearing your talk, that non-fiction was just a bad label and had decided we should rename the section Reality Books figuring they would make the connection to reality tv (which has SO much TRUTH in it. HA). I love the comments from these kids. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I would say their most popular choice is true books. I’d say it is the one I use the most in trying to explain what nonfiction is to kids. But what do we do about the Children’s Press series of True Books? The word lover in me prefers trumors. Reality books does cover the field though. We librarians made a trap for ourselves when we insisted on classifying poetry and folktales as nonfiction though. It is hard to explain those fields when you just got through explaining that nonfiction is real stuff.

  3. Marc Aronson says:

    whenever I point out to kids that there are only two things defined by what they are not — nonfat (pointed out to me by a 6th grader) and nonfiction — they all agree the name makes no sense, and then the contest to rename it begins

  4. Marc Aronson says:

    it seems to me that, wonderful as Mr. Dewey and his system is, we can come up with new terms and more subtle classifications — we do not need to be trapped by decisions made to suit 19th century libraries

  5. I love the moniker “true books”. The problem with “true books” is that is can be interpreted as a positive assertion about accuracy. Even aside from poetry and folklore, there are books shelved as NF that have only “truthiness” going for them.

  6. Marie de Angelo says:

    How about facttion?

  7. Marc Aronson says:

    problem is that can sound like we are fictionalizing history, but good thinking