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how to determine age ranges for nonfiction

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I'm having difficulties finding info about nonfiction age ranges. Say I want to write a book about viruses. I'm thinking that learned school subjects, in this case biology, has something to do with it. But I can't find specifics on how to determine to what ages biology is taught, so as to get a known starting point for the book to expand on.

Cricket magazines has a 9-14 age range. Would that be true also of books or should I stick with the traditional MG/YA split?

I've found plenty of such info for fiction. For example, differences between MG and YA audiences, based on characters' viewpoints, plot intricacies, empathy, profanity, word count, etc.

Thanks for any clues.
#1 - April 07, 2016, 09:34 AM

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Spence, you can look at several state standards to see when they cover it (Google state standards and a big state like TX or NY or your home state). Briefly, a kid in 1st grade might learn something about a virus causing the common cold, but aside from that, not much else. But in 7th grade they will learn that different viruses cause different diseases and why we need to get shots, and then in high school biology they will go further in-depth.

You can decide the kind of book you want to write. Just because a subject is covered more in middle school doesn't mean you can't write a fun PB for kids in elementary school. There are many precocious children who are interested in all sorts of things. My own kids picked out a great deal of NF because of their interest in bugs, cars, buildings, animals, etc. By 2nd grade they were reading independently but we still read a lot to them.

Vijaya

#2 - April 07, 2016, 09:46 AM
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One time when I was looking for what kinds of science topics are taught at what grade levels, I googled our state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There I found grade bands and specific science topics taught.

Another way to search for the information you want is to go to your library and look at books that are similar to the one you're thinking of, in terms of topic and grade range/reading level/level of detail you imagine for your book. Then you can enter those titles (or the author's name) in the AR Book Finder (http://www.arbookfind.com/UserType.aspx) to find out exact word counts and grade levels.

In general, picture book-type nonfiction goes through fifth grade, and longer works span 6-8th grades.
#3 - April 07, 2016, 09:51 AM
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Thank you, Vijaya and Jody, for your very helpful advice.
#4 - April 07, 2016, 11:01 AM

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You can check math and language arts standards through common core here http://www.corestandards.org/    Note that individual states may have up to 15% differences (omissions or additions) to common core, so common core in California looks slightly different than, say, Nevada. 
Science is, I believe, currently different by states.  If you click around on the common core site you can find the link to individual state sites. 
Another way to find out what is taught in different grades is to stop by a teacher store and browse through the workbooks or to contact your county education office and ask if you can view their textbook collections.  County offices of education often have textbooks on display for public viewing (at least they do in my state).  You might be able to do this in a large school district as well.
#5 - April 07, 2016, 05:36 PM
Rebecca Langston-George
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You are getting great advice here. I would chime in that you might also consult the Next Generation Science Standards. For most educational publishers, this is the benchmark they are writing to.

You can browse or search the standards here: http://www.nextgenscience.org/search-standards

Best of luck!

Kirsten
#6 - April 07, 2016, 05:50 PM
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I would add that it is definitely smart to try to cross-market your NF kidlit book to schools!

But I would also add that if there is a topic you want to write about (say viruses), and you are picturing it as a picture book for K-2 even though it isn't studied in school until say, 5th grade, then go for it anyway! Public libraries will jump on these books -- we love "hi-lo," meaning an "older kid concept with a younger reading level." We get lots of those types of questions: "I am looking for a picture book on viruses for my 6-year-old." We can always use more of these!
#7 - April 07, 2016, 07:20 PM
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Great point about the Hi-Lo Dina.
V.
#8 - April 10, 2016, 05:42 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
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Thanks again, everyone.
#9 - April 10, 2016, 08:15 PM

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