Back matter is the information in the back, offered beyond the main text.
I originally started with as many recent nonfiction mentor texts that I could find. I found lots of biographies with fascinating back matter, but since my book wasn’t a biography, I wanted to closely study books that had similar characteristics to mine.
I had several criteria for the main text of the book:
1) Low word count
2) Lyrical language
3) Science related
4) Stellar quality nonfiction
Some books included a list of books or websites for further reading. A Rock Can Be and In the Canyon both contain a glossary. A few of the authors included an “author’s note” explaining their personal connection to the story. Flowers are Calling and Tree of Wonder include ways that students can take action.
In some older nonfiction books, lengthy back matter offered interesting facts aimed at the teacher. The books on this list had back matter ranging from 1 to 7 pages. Every single one of them was designed to be kid-friendly, appealing, and interesting to read.
How have you tackled back matter?
Marcie Flinchum Atkins is an elementary librarian by day and writes for children in the wee hours of the morning. Her books include Ancient China (ABDO, 2015), Mentor Text Tips, and Mentor Texts for Writers. She also holds an MA and MFA in children's literature from Hollins University. She blogs about mentor texts at www.marcieatkins.com.