Whether children and young adults are seeking information about Canada for a school project or looking for magic tricks ideas, the library is often the first stop. Although books are still great resources, electronic materials such as CDs, DVDs, and online resources can be equally effective.

eye means readRead the following materials on this page related to nonfiction electronic materials for children and young adults: Features and Selection.


National Geographic BoxLike nonfiction books, nonfiction software provides in-depth information on a particular topic. Some products are similar to print materials and others have special features. For example, the CD-ROM series called The Complete National Geographic (shown on left) contains the complete set of National Geographic magazines. Each page has been carefully scanned in color. A search tool is provided so that students can search for any topic such as mummies as shown.

Starry NightDK Interactive Learning has a number of nonfiction CDs including Ultimate Human Body and Dinosaur Hunter that are popular with children. The Starry Night series (shown on right) by Space provides information about the night sky.

Discovery Channel produces a series of CDs that can be used in connection with their other educational materials.

Informational resources often provide main menus, indexes, and other tools to help users locate materials of interest. In addition to information, some of these resources also provide games to help students explore the information. Take care when selecting these resources for young children. Consider the reading and interest level of your students. For example, dinosaurs are popular with first graders, but the reading level in some of the popular CDs may be too difficult for your students. The package may still be very useful for the pictures and the animated movies, but don’t expect your students to be able to read the text.

Some software packages are based on books. For instance, The Way Things Work by David Macaulay and Stephen Biesty’s Stowaway are available in the CD-ROM format through DK. They contain all the information found in the book as well as extensions such as timelines and activities. Some software such as the National Geographic Tours uses the book metaphor for presenting information.

I Love the USA softwareA growing number of offerings for children and young adults combine information with games and activities. For example I Love the USA by DK provides information about people, places, and pastimes in the USA while helping students learning about the 50 states.


When selecting nonfiction works match your content needs with the software. For example, many informational resources are interesting but the concepts presented may be too easy or difficult for your learners. Also before you buy, compare the resource with the other materials you already have available. If you already have lots of books, videos, and other resources, do you really need a software package? Explore the unique features the CD-ROM might present such as key word searching, video and audio capabilities, and information organization.

Adapted with permission from Chapter 5 in Lamb, A. (2006). Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today's Classroom, Fourth Edition.

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