Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Back Matter that Matters and Sidebars that Support

 By Suzy Leopold

    Today’s craft topic is all about sidebars and back matter.

    Let’s begin with two statements. Are these sentences true or false?

1. _____ Back matter and sidebars are for nonfiction books only.

2. _____ Back matter must be one page only.

    What are sidebars?

  • An opportunity to engage the reader further
  • Fun facts to add context for a deeper understanding of the storyline
  • Adds an additional layer
  • Supports information as a supplemental text
  • Can be read along with the story side-by-side or read separately as two stories in one book
    Elements of sidebars:

  • Facts and information
  • Definitions
  • Charts, Graphs, Maps
  • Timeline

    What is back matter?

  • An opportunity to engage the reader further
  • Adds additional information and supporting facts
  • Enriches a book
  • Increases marketability
  • Supports academic curriculum as a teaching tool
    Elements of back matter:
  • Author’s note
  • Illustrator’s note
  • Words to Know/Glossary
  • Timeline
  • Diagrams
  • Activities
  • Call to action
  • Photographs
  • Letters
  • Crafts, Recipes
  • Activities, Experiments
  • Suggested reading
  • Bibliography and sources
  • Web links
    Think about a current WIP. Perhaps sidebars and/or back matter will enhance your fiction or nonfiction project. Consider features that support your story. There is no need to include every suggested element listed. Select the elements that support, strengthen, and enrich the main story.

    Note some of the suggested sidebar elements are duplicated as back matter items. For example: 

1. Do you think it is best to include definitions for new vocabulary as sidebars in the main text of your story? 
2. Perhaps the vocabulary words would best fit into a section of back matter. The reader can discover and expand on the meanings of these new words through an alphabetized list of Words to Know or Glossary.

    The following titles are recently published picture books that feature side bars and/or back matter. All make for excellent mentor texts to study and evaluate.
    Perhaps you will discover some ways to incorporate side bars and back matter in a project you are currently writing.

    I’m a Hare, So There!
    Story and pictures by Julie Rowan-Zoch 

    This fiction book is filled with humor and includes two pages of back matter.

    The back matter includes facts and information. The reader discovers eight Sonoran desert animals that are similar but not the same.

The second page of back matter encourages the reader to identify and find the Sonoran desert creatures.

    How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and Their Big Idea
    Written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti 
    Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

    This nonfiction book includes both sidebars and back matter.

A map is inserted as sidebars within the main text of the story for the reader to have an understanding of where the story took place. Several pages integrate photographs throughout the story with side bar captions.
    The author incorporated several elements of back matter as well as an afterword, timeline, sources and notes, further reading, an index and more.


One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey Written and Illustrated by Henry Cole                                                             2020 

This fiction picture book is unique in many ways. 

The story is told in pictures only—a wordless picture book.

It is a 48 page picture book.

The story begins on the end pages.

An author’s note is included as back matter.

Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures                                                                         Written by Constance Van Hoven                                                                             Illustrated by Alan Marks                                                                                     2020       

This beautifully illustrated expository nonfiction story applies both picture book elements. The sidebars expand on the story line with facts and information. The four page back matter is extensive and begins with the five categories of species—rare, naturally rare, threatened, threatened, and endangered extinct. The author included words to know, more rare and blue facts, a selected bibliography, tips for viewing wildlife responsibly, and a quote by astronaut, Karen Nyberg.                                     

        To conclude this craft of writing post, I’ll share two quotes:

“If you have back matter, include it the manuscript. Agents and editors want to see your research—the quantity and the quality.” —Teresa Robeson, author

“BACK MATTER? For a fiction book?”—Julie Rowan-Zoch 

    Do you have some current picture book recommendations? Share some favorite book titles in the comments section that include sidebar and/or back matter elements in fiction and/or nonfiction picture books. 

    Check the comments section for the answers to the two true or false statements. Hope you answered them correctly.

    Perhaps you may want to visit the archive for many GROG Blog posts this summer. A Cover to Cover post shares additional information about sidebars and back matter. Part I of a Cover to Cover post covers more ideas various parts of a picture book.

    Next week the GROG Blog will begin a series of summertime posts. We look forward to sharing inspiration for your writing and creating.

    May you enjoy reading, writing, and creating this summer.

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