April 16, 2014

Expository Text Structures: Book Reviews (Compare/Contrast)

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Two weeks ago we began a series looking at the different varieties of informational text.  We interrupted that series last week to think aloud with our readers about some of the important issues surrounding text complexity and Common Core implementation.  Today, as we return to our series on informational text,we shift our attention to compare/contrast.

Compare and contrast text structures present information by illustrating how two or more things, events, or concepts are alike and/or different. Usually the subjects of compare and contrast informational texts are not all that different; in fact, the need for comparison exists in the subtle differences between the items being compared, as is the case with What’s the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile? by Lisa Bullard (from the What’s the Difference? Series from Picture Window Publishers)and other animal comparison texts. This makes logical sense since it would be all too easy to find the differences between, say, a monkey and a snake, since the glaring differences negate the need for a formal comparison between the two. In other words, the compare/contrast text structure works best when there are some similarities and some differences between two things. Other texts in this category compare and contrast the same concept, such as transportation or school, over a period of time (e.g. compare school today to school one-hundred years ago). Texts that exemplify this structure use cue words that either indicate difference from or similarity to what came before.

 

Cue Words:

• although

• however

• nevertheless

• on the other hand

• but

before/after

then/now

• similarly

• also

• in contrast,

• different

• alike

• same as

• either/or

• in the same way

• just like

• just as

• likewise

• in comparison

• whereas

• yet

• meanwhile

 

Graphic Organizer: Venn Diagram

What’s Tricky About Selecting Compare/Contrast Texts?

Once again, there isn’t an abundance of whole books written using this structure. While there are a few, you can expand your options by writing compare contrast paragraphs from books that present two, varied perspectives even though they don’t explicitly compare and contrast them. For example, each book in the Perspectives Flip Book Series from Compass Point Books, tells the whole story of a historical event, such as the Battle of Gettysburg, from opposing perspectives, lending itself easily to compare/contrast conversations or writing.

 

Great books for teaching the compare/contrast structure:

 

Transportation Then and Now by Robin Nelson (from the Then and Now Series from Lerner)

 Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear by Jerry Pallotta (from the Who Would Win? Series from Scholastic)

Can You Tell a Cricket from a Grasshopper? by Buffy Silverman (from the Animal Look-Alikes Series from Lerner)

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