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Monday, May 14, 2012

How Much Nonfiction Do You Need?

Just walk in to doors of any school library (think elementary and middle school here--only because that's my focus in these posts) and you'll find rows and rows of nonfiction books. Most libraries use the Dewey Classification System. You'll find nonfiction books on everything you can think of arranged by Dewey classification numbers.


But how much nonfiction do you need? The figures below represent the percentage of books recommended in each range based on an elementary school with about 500 students.

Dewey Elementary    #      Books



000 Generalities 1% 90
100 Philosophy and psychology 1% 90
200 Religion 1% 90
300 Social sciences 5% 450
398.2 Folk Tales and Fairy Tales 6% 540
400 Language 1% 90
500 Natural sciences and mathematics 10% 900
600 Technology (Applied sciences) 7% 630
700 The arts Fine and decorative arts 6% 540
800 Literature and rhetoric 4% 360
900 Geography and history 6% 540
920-921 Biographies 4% 360
[REF] Reference

2% 180




[E] Easy Fiction 22% 1,980
[F] Fiction 24% 2,160


Fiction rounds out the list.for a total of about 9,000 books.



Over half the library should be nonfiction. This fits with the new Common Core Standards that will require 50% of all elementary reading be nonfiction.

In middle school, the recommended percentage of nonfiction jumps to 80%. Common Core standards require 75% of all reading in middle and high school be nonfiction.

The following table is from a middle school of about 700 students. It gives you an idea of the proportions media specialists work toward.


  Dewey     Middle       # Books
[F] Fiction       20% 1,400
000 Generalities       2% 140
100 Philosophy & psychology       2% 140
200 Religion       1% 70
300 Social sciences      10% 700
400 Language       1% 70
500 Natural sciences & mathematics      12% 840
600 Technology (Applied sciences)      10% 700
700 The arts Fine and decorative arts      11% 770
800 Literature & rhetoric       3% 210
900 Geography & history      13% 910
920-921 Biographies 11% 770
[REF] Reference 4% 280
7,000

If you're a writer in the educational market, this should give you food for thought.



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