5 Kinds of Nonfiction – Evaluate Your Collection

Assess Your Collection with the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction

Since so many of you take time over the summer to evaluate and update your collections to make sure they will best serve your students, we wanted to remind you of the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system, created by author Melissa Stewart.

The 5 Kinds of Nonfiction system helps librarians expand and balance their nonfiction collection to provide a broad array of titles that appeal to different types of readers. It also helps students select books they like, predict the type of information they will find in a book, and use the books for specific purposes. All Lerner nonfiction is classified according to this system, including upcoming fall releases!


Browseable nonfiction contains eye-catching design, lavish illustrations or photographs, and straightforward text. The books can be read from cover to cover for readers who want to know absolutely everything, but other readers have the freedom to focus on the content that really interests them. See all browseable nonfiction titles on lernerbooks.com:

Browseable Nonfiction from Lerner


Traditional nonfiction is made up of survey/”all-about” nonfiction books. They provide a general overview of a topic, are often part of a larger series, and use clean, straightforward language. They are best for an introduction to a topic, and often used early in the research process to build understanding. See all traditional nonfiction titles on lernerbooks.com:

Traditional Nonfiction from Lerner


Expository literature is a form of nonfiction that uses a strong voice and rich, engaging language to creatively share information about a focused topic. It usually demonstrates carefully chosen text and an innovative presentation. Check out all expository literature titles on our website:

Expository Nonfiction from Lerner


Active nonfiction teaches skills that readers can use to engage in an activity. Craft books, cookbooks, books of scientific experiments all fall into this category. Here’s an overview of Active Nonfiction and a look at some of active nonfiction titles. Browse more Active nonfiction books on our website:

Active Nonfiction from Lerner


Narrative nonfiction reads like a novel, but the stories are true. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the world, and appeals to to lovers of fiction and whatever topic a given book covers. Browse all Narrative Nonfiction titles on lernerbooks.com:

Narrative Nonfiction from Lerner

Click over to a 5KNF tag on our blog for a series of guests posts from nonfiction authors, including this post by the 5KNF creator Melissa Stewart.

And checkout the collection of resources on our website related to the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, such as an overview flyer, an audit checklist flyer, and an 11 x 17 poster you can print and hang for a helpful reference to each type at a glance.

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