Saturday, February 20, 2021

Text Set: Studying Intentional Layout in Informational Text

 Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

One more week of Informational Text Mentors--This week we'll look at the intentional ways authors and designers set up a page in order to support reader's understanding. With more and more visuals in our world, looking at layout as a reader and learning to make intentional decisions about layout as a writer is key. 

We'll start this week's Text Set with a non-book example to study.  If you don't know Nicholas St. Fleur (, you'll want to check him out! (Thanks to author Melissa Stewart for introducing me to his work!)  Nicholas St. Fleur has created several increidble infographics for The NY Times for Kids print publication. He ha a few samples on his website. These are perfect for exploring the idea of intentional design and layout.  Thinking about decisions the creators made, what is most important, how the images and words work together and how size and font changes are all important ideas to bring up to begin this study. And while you are at it, explore the rest of this author's site. His dinosaur book is another worth exploring! 

When How We Got to the Moon arrived in the mail, I screamed, "Every page in this book is a mini lesson!"  And it's true. The visuals in this book are incredible and every single page can be studied for layout decisions. Many of the pages are stand-alone and make sense without reading the rest of the book. And each page is PACKED with so much information. Choosing a few pages to explore together, comparing the different decisions John Rocco makes on different pages based on the purpose/big idea of what he wants readers to understand is key.  

Who Got Game? Baseball Amazing But True Stories by Derrick Barnes (author of I Am Every Good Thing and Crown!) is filled with  short information pieces about baseball. There is more text to this than in the other examples so it will give readers and writers something different to explore.  There are a variety of text sizes, text boxes and visuals set up in ways that the text and visuals work together to share information.  The fonts are something else to take a look at --change of font and color is done with purpose. 

I like Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls because the pages have similar layouts with some differences based on needs of the reader. The left side of the page poses a question about owls. Then there is a main paragraph answering the questions. Several visuals connect to the answer and the layout of these is different depending on what is being communicated by the visuals. A smaller detail is often included in a talking bubble near the edges of the page.  (And if you do get this book, make sure to take off the book jacket and look at the reverse side of the cover for a fun surprise!).

Firefighters' Handbook and Astronaut Handbook (both by Meghan McCarthy) are engaging for readers as they give so much information in different ways. There are detailed diagrams, how-to pages with important vocabulary. Q and A and more. This book is designed to flow together even though there are so many different layouts.  There are similarities and differences in the two books too that are worth exploring.

You can find a downloadable pdf of this list at frankisibberson,com. 

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