This study aims at identifying and categorizing books based on chemical ideas for ageneral audience, at analyzing the text understanding and interest in the themes covered in the book by a nonspecialist audience, and at identifying characteristics of the text that can enhance reading with comprehension for that group of individuals. In order to attend to these aims, the catalogues of 59 major publishers, publishing books in Portuguese and English, were searched and 145 books currently available in the market were identified. These books were then grouped according to their themes. In addition, 17 students, with no extensive background in science, were invited to select a book from one of the categories, to summarize it, and to evaluate it using a general framework provided to them. Results show that most of the books are about “biographies of chemists” or about “particular chemicals”, and that readers became interested in some themes covered by the book. An overall understanding of the text was not achieved; in particular, aspects concerned with nature of science were not understood. The readability of the books was constrained by features of the text.
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THE CONTRIBUTION OF “POPULAR” BOOKS TO THE INFORMAL LEARNING OF CHEMISTRY