Creator of 7Sisters Elementary Literature Activity Guides, Wayne Thorp, explains why reading non-fiction is necessary for elementary homeschoolers.
Why Reading Non-Fiction is Necessary for Elementary Homeschoolers
Children love bedtime stories with happy endings. They love reading about make-believe worlds. Children love stories where the hero saves the day. Children need more, they need to be reading non-fiction materials.
“Why?” you may ask. “What’s the big deal? I don’t think my child wants to be reading encyclopedia articles.”
- Non-fiction reading is an important step in a child’s educational process.
- It prepares students for real world experiences by telling them about the real world.
- Non-fiction builds general and specific background knowledge and boots overall vocabulary.
- Students who comprehend the complex material in non-fiction reading tend to do better in entry level college classes.
- It is also worth mentioning that beginning in the later elementary years, the type of textbooks shift to more non-fiction in nature (think: math, geography, science, chemistry). In early elementary years, simple non-fiction books help children to learn to love the genre before they hit the “heavier stuff”.
My guideline is that by the end of fourth grade, a student’s reading material be 50% non-fiction. Why?
- There are text features in this genre that are not found in fiction. Knowing how to use headings and captions is as necessary as being able to identify characters and setting.
- Being able to read charts and diagrams becomes more necessary as child progresses through school than remembering the nuances of plot.
The best news: it’s never too early (or too late) to introduce non-fiction reading materials to your child!
Non-fiction materials come in many venues: biographies, newspapers, magazines, bus schedules, recipes, catalogs, museum pamphlets, and much more. Topics include cooking, how-to, crafts, health issues, history, travel, and the list goes on.
One way to start is with your child’s interest:
- Is your daughter fascinated by a particular time period in history? Let her read about people and events from that time period.
- Does your son love to read about space travel? Get journals from astronauts who actually traveled in space. Capitalize on what appeals to your child, then it won’t be such a chore to read.
- Early readers who aren’t ready to read non-fiction on their own, benefit from great non-fiction read-alouds. One of the best choices for elementary non-fiction read-aloud is The Reason from a Flower by Ruth Heller. That’s why I use the Activity Guide for The Reason for a Flower with my second graders. The activities are early reader developmentally appropriate and fun. The comprehension skills for non-fiction are just right for younger elementary children.
If you have never tried a Literature Activity Guide, you are in for a treat! Download the guide for You are Special (based on Max Lucado’s popular book for kids) absolutely FREE!
Non-fiction reading is an essential part of a child’s education. It should be as natural as singing the “ABCs”.
Download the Complete List of Elementary Literature Activity Guides to help you with your planning!