When you think of your classroom library, have you ever thought to check the ratio of fiction to nonfiction? Chances are pretty good that the vast majority of books in classroom libraries are predominantly fiction. However, we know that reading nonfiction helps our students scholastically. Informational texts are necessary for learning, right? Yet, are we promoting nonfiction as we should?
Sign #1: Your Students Aren’t Sure If a Book is Fiction or Nonfiction
Sign #2: When you interview your students to learn their reading preferences, they ask, “What is nonfiction?” or only name fictional titles as favorites.
Sign #3: Your students think you have to read nonfiction from cover to cover.
Sign #4: Your students get overwhelmed with wordy or vocabulary heavy texts.
Sign #5: Your students are struggling in the content areas.
What skills can we work on in the content areas WHILE we are teaching the science or social studies concepts?
Well, for starters, we can use the table the contents and index to locate the information we need. We can use the diagrams within nonfiction texts to see just how things like photosynthesis works or identify the parts of an insect. We can also learn to read maps. and so much more.
To help you get started, here is a little flipbook I’ve used in the primary grades. It includes the table of contents, headings, pictures, captions, and charts. It may not include all of your standards, but it is a starting point and is a freebie I had available to share with you.
Teaching nonfiction features makes a huge difference in student comprehension, so it’s important we take time to explicitly teach them and allow plenty of practice throughout our teaching day.