More Insights to Realistic Fiction and more…

Realistic fiction, also known as contemporary or modern realistic fiction, is where everything in the book feels real and follows the real world in terms of events, characters, setting, etc. My students love realistic fiction. Why? Because it’s so relatable. The struggles the characters go through are issues and situation that could really happen and because of that, they evoke some empathy from the reader. The language used in these types of books are equal to what is used in our students’ every day conversations with their peers and parents and outsiders and often realistic fiction deals with topics that are not usually openly discussed but are prevalent in kids’ lives. Some of these touchy topics are death and loss, sexuality and family dynamics being restructured.

I am currently reading Gabi: A Girl in Piecesby Quintero and to me, it would be considered realistic fiction. The way it is written, as journal entries, is relatable to many teens. And the language she uses as she writes her entries are that of what a teenage girl would sound like. She cusses some, she discusses her thoughts and why she said what she said to a friend or parent and the issues, like teen pregnancy amongst Hispanic girls, makes this book empathetic to young adult girls. Monster was another book I felt was realistic in a sense that any 16-year-old who commits a crime can be on trial for that crime and be put in prison. The language in this book was also one that was informal and sounded exactly like a sixteen-year-old, African American boy.

I want to be careful when bringing up some of these tough, but realistic topics with students; however, I do want my students to feel comfortable coming to me and talking about these issues that may have been brought to light through a book that is fiction but feels real in so many ways.


 

Nonfiction is something that is real versus made up and contains facts, images and resources over the subject. It contains a wide range of books and there are nonfiction books for all ages. Nonfiction is the only genre that is defined by what it is NOT; I thought that was interesting to think about. Most authors will include their research notes, provide more resources for the reader to go to as well as an index and/or a glossary of terms. This can be helpful when a student is researching a specific topic and wants to find other resources to use.  And while there are tons of authors who write nonfiction, there are many in children’s literature that always are a go-to for research books.

Criteria for Evaluating Nonfiction for Children

  1.  What are the qualifications of the author?
  2. Are the facts accurate?
  3. What is the purpose and scope of the book?
  4. How does the organization of the book assist readers in locating information?
  5. What role do visuals play?

Even my son and I read nonfiction books together, and we have since he was about two (he’s five now). It’s fun watching his eyes light up when he learns a new word or something new that’s real. He especially loves reading about science and enjoys performing the experiments (with adult help).  Children at all ages can enjoy nonfiction because it teaches them something they may not have known!

I need to continue to look at the criteria for evaluating nonfiction books, so I will be sure to get my students and teachers the correct and appropriate books for their needs. Nonfiction is such a large selection, but fortunately it can be narrowed down by topic which can help it not feel so overwhelming when searching for a book.


 

I LOVE reading science fiction. Sci-Fi is definitely my guilty pleasure when it comes to reading for myself. Other than knowing what I like when reading this type of story, I knew very little professionally before watching this video here.

I learned so much listening and watching Dr. Karin Perry’s video over fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction is a subgenera of fantasy, but fantasy isn’t always sci-fi.
Some of the different subgenera are:
-Apocalyptic
-Post-apocalyptic
-Steam Punk
-Cyber Punk
-Bio Punk
-Dystopia
-Virtual reality/gaming
-ESP (extra sensory perception)
-Robots
-Aliens
-Time travel
She gave some wonderful examples and titles that I am eager to read!
I also learned that some subgenera can be blended and bleed together.

I need to become more familiar with authors of science fiction and fantasy. I also would like to find more of these types of books for students in the elementary level. Many seemed more appropriate for middle or high school.


 

Graphic novels are books like comics, where they tell a story through the picture with speech and thought bubbles. Graphic novels can be enjoyed by all ages and cover every type of genre and subgenera. Just as there are certain names for each part of a book in general, there are specific names for parts of a graphic novel that make it unique. Panels are what you would call the squares that are the scenes. Gutters are the space between the panels. There are dialogue and thought balloons (which I use to call speech bubbles, but now know better). Captions are more like describing the scene and what’s going on, rather than speech or thoughts.

The wonderful thing about graphic novels is that they appeal to all readers, not just those who struggle or are emergent. They are written for all levels, subjects, and ages and therefore help promote literacy since they are more in depth than a picture book and still contain all the literary elements of a normal book.

Some good graphic novels for:

  • Young readers: Squish(my son loves these, and they are easy reads for us), BabyMouse,and Comics Squad, all by Jennifer and Matthew Holms.
  • Science Fiction: Odd Duck
  • Historical Fiction: Dogs of War
  • Contemporary fiction: Roller Girl, Drama
  • Memoir/Bio/Autobio:El Deafo, Steve Jobs
  • Nonfiction:Hazardous Tales(many different ones such as Donner Dinner Party, Big, Bad Ironclad)
  • Adaptations:The Golden Compass(I love this series!)
  • Books that are hybrids between novel and graphic novel: Wonderstruck(such a great book!), The Marvels, Hugo Cabret

 I have used some graphic novels to teach writing in fourth grade; the speech balloons and thought balloons are great when teaching children to draw out what they are wanting to write about and then move it into a text structure as a narrative. The book What Do Authors Do?is a graphic novel written to show kids how authors go through the writing process. I have used this the past few years to begin the writing process, and my students have enjoyed it.


 

According to Richard Peck, there are ten questions you should ask while reading a novel. Click here to see the full list.

Out of the questions to ask, there were several I often ask myself when I read. One specific question I always ask is How is the main character different from me? I will admit that I also ask myself how I am like the character, but not always. I also ask What in the story has happened to me? What does the title tell you about the book? Does it tell the truth? I generally look at the title and ask myself what it tells me about the book, but I often go back once I’m about half way through the book and re evaluate the title because sometimes it hides little hints and truths that I didn’t pick up on at first. 

There were many questions I did not think to ask such as What would the story be like if the main character were of the opposite sex? or If you were to film the story, would you use black and white or color and WHY? I have never thought to switch the main character’s gender, but how interesting it is to think about now. I can picture a few books I am currently reading not making much since if the genders were reversed. I also never thought about filming the book in color or black and white, but I can see how that would be an interesting way to talk about the tone of the book in class. 

I enjoyed reading through Peck’s list of questions and will be using these for future novels I read or discuss with others and with students.

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