Nonfiction Books and Nonfiction Text Sets
How nonfiction and informational texts provide teachers the resources needed to meet the diverse needs of all of their students.
You may be wondering why children should be reading just as much nonfiction as they do fiction books. Isn’t it good enough that a child is reading in general? You are not wrong, children reading helps them become not only better readers, but research shows it leads to more academic success. But nonfiction books play a slightly different role than fiction, which is why we recommend a healthy dose of both! As we grow, the literature around us becomes more and more centric to real life. From studying to reading the newspaper, we are surrounded by nonfiction text. Why shouldn’t this also be important for kids? Exposing children to books about the world around them can aid them in ways that set them up for future success as teenagers, young adults, and beyond!
Benefits of Children Reading Nonfiction Texts
The main difference between reading fiction and reading nonfiction is the former is typically for entertainment, while the latter is for information and content that allows them to explore the people, places, and the world around them. Nonfiction for educational purposes is a huge benefit and can bring even the most reluctant reader to become curious with a subject or content area. Interesting facts presented in a more engaging way for a particular age group allows students to become acquainted with new topics and events or gives them resource material to explore content areas they may already have shown an interest in.
Nonfiction for educational purposes doesn’t stop at learning more about a certain person or topic. It can also show students how to work with different text features. Text features are the components of a book that are not the main body of text. This includes maps, glossaries, indexes, diagrams, bolded words, and more, which aids in teaching and works to facilitate learning. Becoming acquainted with the features they might not normally come across with fiction works provides a student a new way of navigating a complex text to understand its content and develop reading comprehension.
A child’s vocabulary is expanded with nonfiction texts. Words they may not normally be exposed to and learning to use contextual clues to decode the meaning of new words. New language learned from informational texts and nonfiction stories help students to have relevant dialogue about the world around them and opens doors to explore unfamiliar places, cultures, historic events, life experiences, and more. This prompts another beneficial aspect of young readers picking up a nonfiction text: curiosity!
Kids love to ask “Why?” and with nonfiction they will be able to dive deeper into the interests they have questions about, or have prior knowledge in, and develop new questions based on what they read. Prompting further questioning in topics cultivates curiosity and fosters a love of learning to keep them continuing to ask “Why?” and encourages them to keep searching for answers.
Nonfiction can be inspiring to you readers as well! Reading a book about a real-life person overcoming great obstacles can move a child to believe in themselves. That same inspiration can awaken a future passion. One book on planets can lead to the next astronaut!
Other benefits of exposing children to nonfiction texts:
- Provides more of a challenge: Some children may find fiction easier to read and are looking for something a bit more ambitious for their reading level or lexile level.
- Gives awareness to the world around them: Children can learn about how recycling works, how to take care and have a healthy body, differences from their country compared to others, and different cultures from their own.
- Helps with learning a second language: Images familiar to a student allows them to connect to new words.
- Prepares for the future: As a child moves up in grades, the need to know how to understand different text types and utilize nonfiction works increases.
- Teaches them an array of topics about life, both past and current events: Learning new things about the planet, weather, the Native Americans, the Civil War, animals, the human body, or the American Revolution helps children understand more about their place in the world.
- Motivates reluctant readers: Not all kids enjoy reading fiction. A student can discover their love of reading by simply testing out new genres.
- Offers solutions to real-life problems: How did a person in history overcome a matter? A child can use these real-life solutions to their own life problems.
Types of Nonfiction Books
Over the years, the way children’s nonfiction has been presented has gone through more than a few changes and has evolved into what author Melissa Stewart calls the 5 Types of Nonfiction. Not all nonfiction texts are the same. Just because a child likes one form, does not mean they will like the others. Using these categories, you can ensure you have each text type represented whether for your classroom library or otherwise. The five text types include:
- Traditional: How children’s nonfiction has been written for many years. Very concise, straightforward, and expository with primary sources. Some great Capstone series in this category includes Fast Facts About Dogs, Read All About It, and Earth Materials and Systems.
- Browseable: The point of this type is just that, to browse! Intricate photographs and illustrations with short text boxes makes for easy access to knowledge! For this type of nonfiction we recommend our series Mind Benders, Sports Illustrated Kids Crunch Time, Haunted History (scary books are always a good go-to!), and Anything But Ordinary.
- Narrative: This type tells a story and is a great transition from fiction. This is commonly used for biographies or retelling of historic events. Capstone titles to check out in this category are: Bright Dreams: The Brilliant Inventions of Nikola Tesla, Fiery Night, The Brave Cyclist, Mamie on the Mound, Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons, and our Captured History series. Capstone has so many options in the type!
- Expository Literature: A product due to the rise in the internet, expository literature nonfiction is typically narrowed in on a focus topic and presented in creative and innovative ways. Be sure to check out Karl's New Beak: 3-D Printing Builds a Bird a Better Life and Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster for this type!
- Active: These are highly interactive nonfiction books that allow children to truly engage with the text. Wonderful series to get kids into this category are 10-Minute Makers, Outdoor Science, Away From Keyboard, and Easy Eats!
These five types are a great way to look at what your child or students are reading and help them to reach for a nonfiction book every now and then!
Nonfiction Text Sets
Nonfiction text sets cover a range of subject matter including historical, cultural, and political topics. They include relevant reading passages from a variety of genres and are great for social studies and STEM teachers, or for building background knowledge or diving deeply into a literary movement in reading classes. Themed sets provide teachers the resources needed to meet the diverse needs of all of their students. Capstone offers nonfiction text sets for:
Each package provides six books selected to support the range of reading, content, and lexile levels within each classroom. Packages provide six copies of each title, with multiple reading levels for the same topic. You can provide grade-level content for all your students at their reading level, connect common core content instruction with literacy instruction, and give varying content depth, all based on students’ needs and readiness. Capstone can also customize to any nonfiction text set theme you may need for your classroom, lesson plans, or state standards.
Nonfiction is all around us and that includes children. What students read matters and by reading these texts, they can explore the world around them and pursue topics that interest them.