4th Grade - Researching Texts

Research and Technology
Researching texts
Locate information in reference texts by using organizational features (e.g., prefaces, appendixes). (research - technology)
The ability to locate, or find, information about a topic or text by using forefront and supplemental parts of reference materials such as indices, prefaces, epilogues, front covers, etc.

Sample Problems


What are reference texts? (informational texts such as dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, atlases, online databases, and other non-fiction books and magazines)


What is a preface? (an introduction to a text)


What are synonyms for prefaces? (foreword, prologue, preamble, introduction, prelude, etc.)


What is an appendix? (something secondary or subordinately added)


What are synonyms for appendices? (addenda/ addendum, afterthought, postscript, epilogue, etc.)

Learning Tips


Practice having your child close their eyes, flip to a section of a book, open their eyes and determine what part of a book it is – the introduction, the middle section of the text, the conclusion, title page, dedication page, copyright page, the prologue, epilogue, etc. without looking at other adjacent pages. The more they practice with different texts, the better they will become and should start to notice patterns that apply generally across texts.


Read aloud a story to your child(ren). Instead of emphasizing the content of the story this time, focus on the beginning and end parts of the book. What does the cover portray? What does the title page tell you about the book? Is there any author information on the back of the book or the front and back flaps? What details can you find on the copyright page, including the year the text was written? Is there any information in the back of the book about related texts – by the same author, in the same series, etc. Can you determine what genre the book fits in (fable, mystery, comedy, informational, etc.)?


Take an “inventory,” if you will, of the books you have, or choose a shelf of books at a local library. Look through each book with your child to have them find these kinds of things:

  • What is the oldest book (has the earliest copyright date)?

  • Are there any books with multiple editions (ed.)?

  • Is there more than one book from any authors?

  • How many books have a prologue? epilogue?

  • How many books have glossaries?

  • How many books have prefaces? appendixes?

  • How many books have an index?


To help your child understand the value and function of an index, have them make one for your home. Discuss the important of describing specific locations, instead of general areas. For example:

utensils…………………(not just kitchen) kitchen, top drawer on right

extra bedding……………………………hallway linen closet, 2nd shelf

movies……………………living room, small cabinet door bottom-right

pain reliever medications………bathroom, 3rd shelf of medicine cabinet

hose………………………front northwest corner of house near rose bush


If you have an old informational book you can take apart (e.g. an old dictionary or encyclopedia), use that to rip out important pages of the text (e.g. index, table of contents, appendixes, preface, copyright page, etc.). Otherwise, use pieces of paper for books parts. Mix them all up and have your child sort the pieces in order from how they should appear from beginning to end in a text.

Extra Help Problems


How can you use a preface? (to better understand the author, the purpose of the text, the contributions made to the text and how it contributes to an area of knowledge, it can also give you tips and hints about how to read the text, especially any special terms, abbreviations, or symbols)


How can you use appendices? (in books they can contain glossaries to define unknown words, in reports they often contain tables and charts to visualize information, they can extend stories as epilogues, etc.)


What is a table of contents? (a list of the contents or topics covered in the text – organized by chapter, section, subsection, etc.)


How can you use a table of contents? (to find a specific part or topic of a text)


What is an index? (an alphabetical list of all the topics, people, places, etc. mentioned in the text and the page number where each item can be found)


How can you use an index? (they are always in the back of texts or the last book in a series of encyclopedias – they are essential for finding a particular item or topic, especially amongst lots of other detailed information)


Where can you find titles of books? (on the front cover and/or on the title page)


Where can you find titles of articles? (usually at the top of the page, or the text that is bolded and larger than the surrounding text)


Why are titles important? (they attempt to encapsulate the entire text or piece of work in just a few words; they may show a glimpse of the author’s style and/or wit)


Why are organizational features of text important to know how to use? (to save time and have a deeper understanding of the text)


What is a copyright page? (a page in the front of a text that tells what edition the text is, what year it was published, the publisher, and sometimes gives a synopsis of the text or key concepts to be found in the text)


What is included in a title page? (the title, author, and illustrator – if applicable, and the publisher and places where published)


What is a dedication page? (a page the author writes to dedicate the text to a person or people; it is not always present in texts)


What is included in a preface? (information about the text, authors, contributors, organization of the text, etc.)


What is a prologue? (an introductory passage or speech before the main action of a novel, play, or long poem)


What is the difference between a preface and a prologue? (a preface is usually for some time of informational text while a prologue is for other types of literature such as plays, long poems, novels, etc.)


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