Nonfiction Literature for Children

Old Assumptions and New Directions

Authored by: Barbara Kiefer , Melissa I. Wilson

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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In a literary world that foregrounds fiction, writers and illustrators of nonfiction often receive limited criticism— or praise—except from the young and adult readers who avidly pursue these books for topics of interest across the disciplines. Barbara Kiefer and Melissa Wilson ask what qualities distinguish nonfiction as a literary art form; and point out that for child audiences, the genre is often oriented to entertainment—so much so, that the facts may be distorted or mistaken altogether. They conclude their analysis, however, by pointing to promising research and criticism on the distinctive characteristics of nonfiction that authors, illustrators, and readers find notable and malleable for their own artistic—and learning—goals. In her Point of Departure essay, noted author, Penny Colman, approaches the questions raised by Kiefer and Wilson from a writer and educator’s perspective on the making of literature—with facts.

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