3 Things You Need to Know about Browsable Nonfiction

Yesterday, an online friend posted an article about “browsable nonfiction.” What is that? I immediately wanted to know. And as I read it made perfect sense.

Browsable Nonfiction Defined

First things first, you need to know what it is. Browsable nonfiction is the nonfiction that I’ve always thought of as bite-sized. These are the books that young readers can pick up, read a bit and then but the book down again. It doesn’t have to be read from page one through page 40. A reader can just as easily read page 4, page 30 and then page 11.

Examples of browsable nonfiction include Guiness titles, DK illustrated books, and anything with a title like 1000 Facts about Faces (or whatever). They are written in bite-sized chunks and are often heavily illustrated.


The next thing that you should realize is that kids love these books. I can’t even tell you how many of these titles my son had. We’d be at a Scholastic book fair, and I’d be browsing chapter books or novels. “Doesn’t this look great?” He, on the other hand, would be loading up on browsable nonfiction. There were books about snakes and sharks, poisons and the Civil War. If he was remotely interested in the topic, one of these books could pull him in .

I hate that I disliked them so much because teachers and librarians know something I didn’t. These books function like . . .

Graphic Novels

Physically, they aren’t like graphic novels other than the fact that they are books. But they aren’t as intimidating as pages and pages of text. Because of this, they pull in young readers who may be reluctant or simply unwilling to commit to something long and dense.

They are also, according to this School Library Journal article, a great way to introduce fiction loving students to nonfiction.

I can’t say that I’ve always been a fan of graphic novels. But that’s changed. I love the art and the stories. I love the cinematic experience. So it’s about high time I got over my issues with browsable nonfiction.

I’ve never tried to write this type of nonfiction but maybe, just maybe, it is about time I tried.


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