Text Connections

Updating my articles for NoveList began when my editor, Beth Gerall, gave me the top ten articles that got the most hits last year.  Number one? Text Connections!

When it comes to text connections, my favorite books are those that have a less obvious link.  When we’re asking students to dig into examining texts, the more the intriguing the study, the more learning and comparison are possible.  Take for example two of my favorite non-fictions this year.  In my opinion, their greatest connection is how the authors express passion for their subjects (a connection that also bears mentioning in terms of Author’s Purpose).

A Little Book of Sloth

Lucy Cooke’s A Little Book of Sloth is totally driven by the photojournalist’s extensive and enthusiastic personal experiences with her adorable subjects. The world of sloths, unknown to most readers, is fascinating and Cooke, a zoologist and the founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, clearly understands the species, their habitat and habits. Her photographic and writing styles are playful.  That well-represents her relationship with over 150 sloths she’s known at her rehabilitation sanctuary in Costa Rica.


Annette LeBlanc Cate is just as passionate in her book,  Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own BackyardLook Up! Bird Watching In Your Own Backyard.  Cate loves birds, bird watching, and drawing.  Her wish to engage others in practices that delight her is immediately clear.  First, she invites readers by using a second person viewpoint. She peppers her nonfiction with intriguing questions and statements that make it hard to resist her exciting suggestions.  Who wouldn’t want to journal discoveries when she writes, “Your thoughts, feelings and observations about nature are just as valid as anyone else’s.  You’re the only one who can keep track of your specific experiences.”  Throughout, the author shows her ability to talk directly to the reader.

Here are a few suggested questions you might use to kick off your text-to-text discussion of these books:

  • illustration vs photographs–what is the impact of each? why did each author choose her particular form to represent the ideas?
  • Find places in the text where the authors’ enthusiasm shows through.  How are these alike? How are they dissimilar?
  • Do the authors use facts? (find examples in the text) Compare where and when the authors use these?
  • Do the authors use opinions? (find examples in the text) Compare where and when the authors use those?
  • Which author uses opinion more often and which uses facts?
  • What impact do these choices have on the reader?
  • Do you consider these books successful? Why? or Why not?
  • Which book is more successful to you? Why?

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