Trade Books 101
What is a trade book?
A trade book is a book marketed to the general public. These are books purchased by libraries and made available to the public through various venues, such as book stores and catalogs. Increasingly, they have also been purchased and used by schools for instructional purposes that foster literacy development and support content areas.
What are the two main genres of trade books?
The two main genres (types) of trade books are fiction and non-fiction. Within each genre are sub-categories that further differentiate different types of books. Libraries use the Dewey Decimal System to categorize books. In general, fictional books are designated as E (for picture books) or Fic (for fiction) and are organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. Non-fiction books include information books, folktales, and biographies. Most non-fiction is organized by subject category according to the Dewey Decimal designation.
What are some of the basic differences in fiction and non-fiction genres?
- Primary purpose is to entertain the reader.
- Narrative structure- usually includes characters, setting, plot, problem and solution.
- Fiction is a creation of the author’s imagination.
- Visuals generally complement the text.
- Primary purpose is to provide information or knowledge that supports the reader’s interest or need for information.
- Various text structures are used to organize and convey information. Some of the more common text structures used are: sequential, descriptive, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and problem/solution.
- Non-fiction is based on an author’s research.
- Visuals may complement a text but often also supplement the text with additional information.
What is an information book?
An information book is a non-fiction book that conveys factual knowledge and supports the inquiry of the reader. The term "information book" is often used interchangeably with the term “non-fiction,” however nonfiction is actually a more global category which includes folktale and biography. Information books or texts usually support content area focuses including all the sciences and history.
What is a science-related trade book?
The Elementary Science Integration Projects uses the term “science-related trade book” to refer to all trade books, both fiction and non-fiction, that have a connection to science. This includes the following genres that we use for Search It! Science to categorize science-related trade books:
Information reference: information texts that use text features such as: headings, chapters, indexes, glossaries, graphs, and captions to organize and present information.
Information narrative: information based books that include elements of narrative to deliver the information. An example would be a book written by a scientist who tells the story of an experiment or project that she has directed.
Experiment-procedural: texts that present scientific demonstrations, activities and “how-tos” .
Science-related biography: biographies that feature the lives of scientists and those who work in science-related fields.
Science-related folktales: folktales that share culturally-based stories based on natural or scientific phenomenon.
Science-related poetry: individual poems or poetry collections that explore scientific themes.
Science-related fiction: narrative texts that incorporate scientific information and/or thinking into the story.
Why use science-related trade books in the classroom?
Often science books are thought of only as reference texts. Science-related trade books offer a great deal more than just information. The following are just a few examples of what science
trade books can bring to the classroom.
- Books model scientific thinking, attitudes, and procedures.
- Books present different approaches to the same subject. When a teacher uses books to demonstrate the many possible approaches to a scientific subject, children's eyes are opened to the diversity and complexity of science.
- Books help students to make connections and ask questions.
- Books that present and explain scientific procedures illustrate the "how-to" of science: observing, experimenting, hypothesizing and recording. They assist students as they investigate their own questions and enable students to make authentic scientific meaning.
- Books invite students to witness the world beyond their own environment.
- Science trade books can help us understand science as more than hands-on activity. They can help students recognize the connection between what people do and the world in which we live.
- Books inspire intellectual curiosity and wonder.
- Science trade books promote science as a human activity. Since trade books are written in a human voice, and are based on the interest and curiosities of a writer, they invite readers to share in the pleasures the science writer has enjoyed in his or her research and writing. Often science books include "science people" as part of the story they tell.
- Science-related books engage reluctant readers.
- Excellent trade books exemplify excellent writing. Narration, description, exposition, and even creative writing can be sparked by topics of scientific interest. Sometimes the language used to pass on the "story" of science is so intriguing, and so inviting, that students "try to write a story like that".
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9912078. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.