What's the Dewey Number for Sharks?: Nonfiction Numbers You Should Know! Part 1

By Tori Hamilton, Children's Library Associate, Glenpool Library

Do you have trouble convincing your child to check out books from the nonfiction section? Does he or she think nonfiction is boring? Au contraire! Some of the most interesting children's books are found in the nonfiction section, but only if you know how to find the good stuff!

While it looks complicated on the surface, the Dewey Decimal System, used by the Tulsa City-County Library and most other public libraries to organize nonfiction, is actually simple and elegant. Consisting of ten broad categories, Dewey assigns a number to each possible topic. Books are then sorted by number so that all of the books on one topic are stored in the same place. When you know the numbers for your child's favorite topics, you'll be able to find intriguing nonfiction quickly and easily no matter which library you visit.

Want to find amazing books in the children's nonfiction section of your nearest Tulsa library branch? Check out these nonfiction numbers every parent should know:

  • 031 and 032, Encyclopedias in English - This one sounds stodgy, but keep in mind that weird trivia, such as the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not, fall into this category. Many children who wouldn't read a novel half that size will avidly read an entire record book, one macabre fact at a time.
  • 133, Ghost Stories - And we're not talking about fictional ghost stories. The books in this category are of the unexplained-phenomena, unsolved-mystery, what-really-happened-that-night variety. Spooky stuff for curious minds.
  • 398, Fairy Tales and Folktales - Fairy tales in nonfiction? How does that work? Well, once upon a time (see what I did there?), all books of every kind, including fictional stories, were classified in the Dewey Decimal System, but as novels became more popular, they quickly outgrew their assigned number. Thus the fiction section was born! Meanwhile, fairy tales are still shelved in the nonfiction section, where they continue to live Happily Ever After.
  • 560s, Fossils and Prehistoric Life - Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs? Dinosaurs! Enough said. But wait! What if you're not into dinosaurs? What if you're more of a woolly mammoth fan? Look up "Prehistoric Mammals" under 569.
  • 590s, Animals - Every bit of the 590s has something fun in it, with mammals under 599, sharks under 597, and ocean life under 593, to name just a few. Whether your child loves turtles, snakes, birds, or big cats, the children's section has the books to fascinate your budding zoologist! Ask a librarian for the specific number you need.
  • 741, Drawing - Your baby artist needs to start somewhere, and the drawing books in the children's section are just the thing to occupy a summer afternoon. How to draw animals, superheroes, cars, monsters, or create your own comic books - the library has it all!
  • 818, American Miscellaneous Writings - Say, how many American Miscellaneous Writings does it take to change a light bulb? I don't know, but if that light bulb joke exists, it's going to be under 818 because that's where we keep the joke books.

Need more inspiration? Don't see your child's favorite topic listed here? No problem! Ask your local librarian, "What the Dewey number for that?" and we'll hook you up!

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