Children’s Bookroom: Books That Tell, Inform, Teach, and Explain

childrens-books-570121_1280Early in my career as a teacher-librarian, I regretfully encouraged younger students to read only fiction books. I steered them away from non-fiction because I saw informational texts (Common Core term) as uninteresting compared to works of fiction. I also believed that lower grade students would not be able to handle or understand informational texts.

However, when I reflect on my own reading experience as a child, I equally favored fiction and non-fiction genres. Therefore, I cannot explain the shift in my opinion about non-fiction reading. I can only say that I am grateful for the enlightenment I received when I began to study for my reading endorsement.

In addition to studying children’s literacy, I also learned from my students. Jamal, a third grader, immersed himself in books about dinosaurs. Another student, Richard, a fourth grader, “kept me on my toes,” to ensure that I added books to the library’s collection on the solar system. In addition, Sierra, a first grader plunged into books about famous people located in the biography section. These children were like sponges reading all that they could learn on their favorite topics.

However, not all children will bother to visit the non-fiction section of the library or bookstore. So, as adults, let’s give them a little nudge to expose them and encourage them to read informational texts. Moreover, the beauty of books located in the non-fiction section is that children may choose to read only a specific portion of the text that they find of interest or that they are researching.

Another way to embrace non-fiction is to pair them with fiction titles. Children will enjoy and gain interest in learning to read and reading to learn. In doing so, the fulfillment of the Common Core Standards occur for both Reading Literature and Reading Informational Text. Overall, it is my wish that your children or students will find motivation as they embrace non-fiction books.

Below are a few recommendations of book pairings:

  • How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon and Bats by Gail Gibbons
  • Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold and A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adler
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan and Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures by Heather Alexander

NOTE: My previous blog post focused on reading connections for babies. If you live in DeKalb County, GA, you may find of interest, news from DeKalb County Public Library: “Literacy Program Aimed at Babies and Toddlers.” If you do not live in the area, I would suggest you check your local library for a similar program.

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Happy Reading!

Vanessa Fortenberry,
Retired Teacher-Librarian
B.A. Music Education
M.Ed., Media
Ed.S., Media
Reading Endorsement