Text Sets Research Guide

What are Text Sets?

"Quite simply, text sets are a collection of sources of information that have a commonality; that is, they explore a shared topic, issue, or big idea. In the classroom, text sets become an essential tool for teaching children to gather and draw from multiple sources of information when exploring topics, issues, or ideas--they are a tool for creating what we hope will be a lifelong habit of mind. ...We know that multiple sources of information enable us to expand comprehension of topics, issues, and ideas in every facet of our lives. To support children in understanding the power of multiple sources and the process of using them thoughtfully, we must present text sets as a natural method of building understanding as we explore big ideas about our world beyond content instruction."

Nichols, Maria.  Expanding Comprehension with Multigenre Text Sets.  New York: Scholastic, 2009.

Useful Databases

Academic Search Complete: Useful for finding book reviews (from the New York Times, Booklist, School Library Journal, and several education journals) about specific titles. 

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD): Find potential children's books based on genre or topical keyword and age/grade/reading levels.  Includes thousands of literature reviews.

Searchasaurus: Includes items such as encyclopedia and newspaper articles.  Searchable by keyword and "lexile level," browsable by topic.  

Student Research Center: Good for finding encyclopedia articles, basic biographies, newspaper articles, and primary sources.  When searching, it is easy to chose which of these items are wanted. 

TeachingBooks.net: A database of children's books that is browsable by subject and grade level.  Useful for finding books on specific topics and of the appropriate levels.

Locating Fiction or Non-Fiction for Text Sets

There are many ways to locate appropriate materials for test sets, including the databases and web resources on this page. If you already have a specific book in mind, check to see if we own that book by searching the catalog by title

If you have a topic in mind, but are looking for specific titles, an advanced search in the catalog is the best place to start.  Type the keyword for your text set into the search box, and choose Youth Collections from the "Location" drop-down box.  

advanced keyword search

When your results come back, pay attention to a few things: location, call number, and current status.  Most of these books will be located in the Youth Collection on the 6th floor of PCL, but some will be in the Benson Collection.  The status indicates whether a book is available (like these) or checked out (a date would be listed under status).  The call number is especially useful.  It not only indicates where in the section the book will be located, it indicates whether the book is a work of fiction or non fiction.  Notice that the call number for the first book about Abraham Lincoln begins with E and the second call number begins with PZ.  PZ call numbers are juvenile literature, so this book is fiction.  E and F call numbers are American history.  These books are non-fiction.  In general, any book that does not have a P call number will be non fiction, with History and Social Sciences at the beginning of the alphabet, and Sciences at the end.        


A keyword search for space gave this result, with a Q call number:


Once you find a non-fiction book about the subject in which you are interested, you can use the call number to browse for similar books in the stacks.  Since the books are grouped by subject, all of the books about Abraham Lincoln, for example, should be near one another.

If you want to include an encyclopedia article in a text set, consider using one of the "useful databases" listed on this page. 

Locating News Articles for Text Sets

The best places to find news articles geared towards kids are the databases (look under the "Useful Databases heading for some suggestions).  Of course there are also some great web resources for this:

Time for Kids

National Geographic Kids

Scholastic News

Once you have an article that fits the text set theme, put it through the ATOS Analyzer in order to make sure that your article is the proper reading level for your students. 

Subject Specialist

 Janelle Hedstrom's picture

Janelle Hedstrom 
Education Librarian

Email: EdLibrarian@lib.utexas.edu

Meet: Request a consultation (available in person or via Adobe Connect)

Books and Articles

Expanding Comprehension With Multigenre Text Sets print

Children's Literature in the Classroom: Engaging Lifelong Readers print orelectronic

Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers, 2nd ed. print

Locating Primary Sources for Text Sets

To search the UT Libraries for youth books that include primary sources, go to theAdvanced Search, type d: sources in the search box and choose Youth Collections from the "locations" drop down menu.  If you want, you can add your topic to the dearch, for example: d: sources AND Abraham Lincoln.

locating primary sources for text sets 

This searches the subject headings (like tags that librarians add to books) of the books in the youth collection for things that mention sources.  There are not a ton of results, but civil rights and American History have better coverage than most subjects.  If you are working with older students, leave the location at all locations and you will get MANY more results.  

If UT does not have primary sources that fit a particular text set, go to these sites:

Library of Congress Learning Page

National Archives

They both have lesson plans and selected primary sources. 

Locating Poetry for Text Sets

To search for poetry in the catalog, start with the advanced search.  In the search box, type d:poetry AND the topic of your text set.  Set the location to Youth Collections.  Like this:

locating poetry for text sets

We have a fair amount of poetry, which should have call numbers in the P's, but if nothing comes up with the topic you search, try a different term.  This searches the subject headings (which are like tags librarians assign to books) for poetry and the topic of your text set, but it may take a few tries to come up with the term the librarians used!

Leveling Books for Text Sets

The UT Libraries have many good database resources for leveling books (see useful databases section above), but there are also some good online resources: 

Accelerated Reader's ATOS is a readability formula that uses many factors of a text to give a readability level (a grade level).  AR BookFinder allows the user to search a database of books by title, and the ATOS Analyzer allows the user to imput a text file of an article or a book in order to get the ATOS readabiltiy level.  This is especially useful for news articles or primary sources included in a text set.  If you need Guided Reading Levels, use this chart to translate ATOS levels to GRL's.   

Lexile Framework for Reading allows the user to search by title or subject and lexile level.  This is useful if the lexile level (the ranges roughly correspond to grade levels) of a specific book is needed or for generating a list of books on a specific topic that correspond to a specific reading level.  (This site is run by the creators of the Lexile measure).  Use this chart to convert lexile measures to grade level.