Informational picturebooks combine words and pictures to create an aesthetic literary experience and to impart knowledge, facts and ideas about the world in a truthful and reliable manner. High quality informational picturebooks present information in a way that inspire children to think, question, feel, connect and wonder rather than simply accept an explanation.
Informational picturebooks appear in a variety of genres using different formats and media. They include topic books which address one specific theme such as dinosaurs or insects, concept books, number books, ABC books, biographies, activity books, picture dictionaries, pop-up books and wimmelbooks. They present real-world information to extend existing knowledge. They include a melange of visual media to support the words, such as artwork, photography, diagrams, maps, charts, and also include different formats and layouts such as text boxes, cut-away pages, flaps, author’s notes, glossaries, indices and content pages. Many include diverse typographic features such as differences in typeface, font, size and directionality of text. For example, text may be written vertically, in wavy lines or follow the contour of an illustration or diagram.
There are generally three main types of informational picturebooks that lend themselves well to the PELT classroom:
- Nonfiction which uses an expository/descriptive and explanatory writing style to convey information, facts, figures. These picturebooks often form part of a topic-book series such as the Picture Puffin Fact Book Series. Literary devices are sometimes used, for example, alliteration (Wiggling Worms at Work) or onomatopoeia (Splish, Splash, Splosh!), a book about water.
- Fiction or verse – information is conveyed through a narrative, for example, The Great Kapok Treeor through verse such as Compost Stew.
- A hybrid form combining elements from i) and ii) – children follow a narrative and factual information is presented separately as statements to differentiate from the narrative. For example, The Emperor’s Egg, The World Came to My Place Today, 10 things I can do to help my world.
10 things I can do to help my world, Melanie Walsh, Walker Books
Compost Stew – An A – Z Recipe for the Earth, Mary McKenna Siddal, Illustrated by Ashley Wolff, Dragonfly Books, 2010
Splish, Splash, Splosh!Mick Manning and Brita Granström, Franklin Watts
The Emperor’s Egg, Martin Jenkins illustrated by Jane Chapman, Walker Books
The Great Kapok Tree – A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, Lynne Cherry, Voyager Books
The World Came to My Place Today, Jo Readman illustrated by Ley Honor Roberts, Eden Project Books
Wiggling Worms at Work, Wendy Pfeffer illustrated by Steve Jenkins, Harper Collins