Guest Post by Natasha Wing
I’m a big fan of endnotes, or back matter. I love it if a book includes a recipe that’s in the story. Or, since I had trouble with timelines in history class, if a book includes a chronology of events. I also love author and illustrator notes. They give insight as to why the story was important to them.
When I write biographies, there are always those little gems of information that I wish I could have included in the story but it just wasn’t the place for them. Instead, I share those nuggets in the endnotes. I also like to give teachers and librarians added value, especially when they are purchasing a hardback book. For instance, in An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers, I’ve included art activities and a color glossary.
For kids, back matter is where they can find the “hidden treasures” of the story.
When recommending a book to your students, don’t forget to mention the back matter. You’ll never know what may spark a child to research the book’s topic even further.
Back matter can help you extend the literary experience. Maybe a class project can be a recipe or craft idea found in the back of a book. Or media specialist can use the website links as practice for students on how to research a topic. There might even be a great idea for a field trip!
Don’t let the story experience end with the story. Read further and see if there’s more to learn at the back of the book.
Natasha Wing is the author of Jalapeño Bagels (Atheneum, 1996) and An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers (Henry Holt and Company, 2009), both of which have back matter. She offers Skype and school visits. With her school visits she’d be happy to include the Josef Albers art projects and information from the back matter in her talks.
What is Back Matter?
It is defined as the part of the book after the main text. It can consist of, but is not limited to:
Afterword — An afterword is frequently a piece of writing describing a time well after the time frame of the main story.
Appendix/Addendum — An appendix or addendum is a supplemental addition to a given main work. It may correct errors, explain inconsistencies or otherwise detail or update the information found in the main work.
Author & Illustrator Notes – Reasons why the author chose to write the book or explanation of what interested her about the subject. May include personal connections, the spark for the idea, or why the subject influenced her life. Illustrator may discuss why he chose a certain media and give the specifics of how he developed the illustrations.
Bibliography – The bibliography cites other resources used in the body. Most common in non-fiction books.
Colophon – The colophon is a brief description describing production notes relevant to the edition such as font and medium used, and may include a printer’s mark or logotype.
Conclusion – A closing summary that might include a statement of opinion.
Epilogue – An epilogue is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature or drama, usually used to bring closure to the work.
Glossary – The glossary consists of a set of definitions of words of importance to the work. They are normally alphabetized. The entries may consist of places and characters, which is common for longer works of fiction.
How to – Instructions on how to make something that was mentioned in the story such as a recipe or drawing.
Index – An index is used to find terms used in the text. Common in non-fiction.
Map – Such as historic maps, routes taken by character in story, location of setting.
Photo Scrapbook – Rather than breaking up the main text with photos, sometimes they are included as a scrapbook in the back.
Postscript – An addition or supplement.
Timeline – A chronological snapshot of events. Particularly of interest in history books, scientific books showing an evolution, or anniversaries of events.
Website Links – Web addresses that link to an organization, a museum, a site that expands on the topic, or a place where kids can have an interactive experience such as an author site, publisher’s site, or teaching tools site.
Here is an activity page from An Eye for Color: