Well, it is difficult to know where to start. There are so many positives to reading non-fiction! Most of us read non-fiction text types every day without even realising. It’s all around us, we are constantly exposed to information and non-fiction texts…
Reading for purpose and meaning:
Reading non-fiction texts can help children really appreciate the benefits of reading, which can also help engage reluctant readers. If children can see why it is helpful and useful to read, they are more likely to want to read or may not even realise they are reading. There are words around us all the time; for example, road signs, shop signs, menus in cafes and restaurants, notices and posters such as opening times, customer information, advertising events or rules. At home we also find words all around us; you might take a look at the back of food packets to find out what is in the food and how to prepare it or read a TV guide/timetable to find out what is on. Reading film reviews before going to the cinema or leaflets about visitor centres are other example of reading non-fiction during everyday life. Reading a recipe in order to make a cake or instructions on how to build a model or flat pack furniture are just a few examples. Reading non-fiction is easily built into everyday life and activities which can give reading a real purpose. This will also support children to read for meaning as they are reading to find something out, they need to make sense of it. You can discuss the questions you want to answer before reading or the children may even ask the questions themselves naturally…. “How do we cook the fish fingers?” or “What drinks do they sell?”
Pause for a few minutes and think about everything you have read today….
A wide variety of text types:
There are so many different non-fiction text types from magazines and newspapers to information books, online articles, information leaflets, recipes and instructions. Some people may prefer reading magazines that they can dip in and out of rather than a full length novel. Others prefer reading on digital devices. There is something for everyone! This again can really help support reluctant readers as they can find a style that suits them. Or extend an able reader by providing a different text type and style of text.
What type of non-fiction do you like reading and why?
Reading a range of non-fiction also can support children to understand a wide range of text features (such as headings, sub-heading, captions, labels and bullet points) and different styles of text and sentence structure, which in turn they can apply to their own writing.
What different type of texts have you read today? What text features did they include?
Variety of vocabulary:
Non-fiction texts can provide an opportunity to learn new vocabulary or practise using vocabulary in context, enriching children’s range of vocabulary in both everyday life and specific subject areas. Children can use a range of strategies for tackling new vocabulary such as glossaries or context of the sentence.
Try highlighting subject specific vocabulary in texts. Can you use a new word in a different sentence?
Improving comprehension skills:
If children can see a purpose to reading and real reason to read they are more likely to read for meaning, developing their comprehension skills. Children will want to find information and facts from the text in order to carry out a task such as ordering their meal or building a model or answering questions about Egyptians. They will develop comprehension skills such as asking questions, finding facts and information and developing own opinions.
Try discussing questions you want to answer before reading a text.
Learning about the world:
Non-fiction can teach us all about the world, for example reading about endangered animals, renewable energy and recycling or learning about events around the world and other countries. This supports children to form their own personal opinions and develop skills such as asking questions, checking validity of texts, researching topics as well as developing and improving comprehension.
Exploring the validity of texts can be a particularly important skill to learn and something that should be directly taught in a world of instant access to the internet and online information. Navigating fake news and identifying sites and sources that can be trusted are skills that can be developed through reading non-fiction.
Can you trust what you are reading? Do you agree with what you are reading? Is it true?
Developing subject knowledge:
Reading non-fiction text can help children to develop their subject knowledge, subject-specific vocabulary and personal interests. They can explore topics such as Rainforests, Egyptians, the Great Fire of London, wildlife, animals and bridges... the possibilities are endless. This can inspire children, spark a thirst for knowledge, and excite children about a topic as well as developing reading skills. Again, texts can come in a variety of forms such as information leaflets, information books or online articles and websites. Non-fiction texts may engage children who prefer practical activities, history or factual information. You can use a variety of text types to learn about a new topic; for example when exploring the rainforest you could read leaflets about foods from the rainforest, posters about saving endangered animals, information books, websites, online articles or a recipe on how to make a meal using items that come from the rainforest.
What hobbies or interested do your pupils have? What different text types can you use to explore a new topic?
Non-fiction reading can be fun, informative and inspiring, whilst supporting the development of key reading skills.
What non-fiction texts will you explore today?
Catherine Casey is the co-author of On Track English: Writing and Grammar.
Keep an eye on our Twitter page throughout November as we’ll be featuring an exciting range of non-fiction books to help inspire a love for non-fiction writing in your pupils.
TagsEnglish and Literacy
, Reading and Ebooks