Central Idea Vocabulary for Narrative Nonfiction

For students to identify the central ideas in nonfiction, they need the vocabulary to articulate these ideas. Here are some suggestions for words to consider introducing and using with your students during discussions of nonfiction texts. My suggestion would be to start a bulletin board and add these words as they surface in your discussions.

Theme/Central Idea Words & Sample Narrative Nonfiction Texts (Just a note – so many of these texts lend themselves to discussing multiple themes from this list!)

  • Perseverance, Tenacity (like in the book With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote)
  • Humanitarianism (like in Hitler Youth)
  • Cooperation (like in Looking for Miza)
  • Education (like in Hitler Youth)
  • Compassion, Benevolence, Empathy (like in Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez)
  • Destruction, Displacement (like in Disasters: Natural Man-Made Catastrophes Through the Centuries)
  • Empowerment (like in Owen and Mzee)
  • Rebirth, Renewal, Restoration (like in The Prairie Builders)
  • Collective wisdom, Capacity (like in The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon and Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights Set the Stage for MLK Jr.’s Final Hours)
  • Nonviolent, Peaceful, Placid, Amicable (like in We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March)
  • Community (like in The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of Honey Bee Catastrophe)
  • Global citizenship (like in Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert)
  • Friendship, Alliance, Harmony, Solidarity (like in Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom)
  • Courage, Endurance, Determination, Enterprise (like in STAY: The True Story of Ten Dogs)
  • Hope (like in Marching for Freedom: Children Don’t You Grow Weary)
  • Survival (like in Recess at 20 Below)
  • Fear, Trepidation, Reverence (like in March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World)
  • Injustice, Tyranny, Oppression (like in Black & White: The Confrontation of Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth & Eugene “Bull” Connor”
  • Surmounting obstacles (like in Bomb: The Race to Build -and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon)
  • Vulnerability (like in Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust)
  • Diversity (like in What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World and other Global Fund For Children Books, A Rainbow at Night: The World in Words and pictures by Navajo Children)
  • Discovery, Curiosity (like in The Tarantula Scientist)
  • Change, Metamorphosis, Innovation, Transformation (like in Out of the Dump)
  • Communication (like in The Elephant Scientist)
  • Dangers of ignorance, knowledge versus ignorance (like in Hitler Youth)
  • Progress, Breakthrough, Momentum (like in Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez)
  • Instigation, Agitation, Disturbance, Perturbation, Provocation (like in Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice)

2 thoughts on “Central Idea Vocabulary for Narrative Nonfiction

  1. Brittny Pendley

    Fascinating blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design. Appreciate it


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