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Nonfiction Text Features

This week I want to take a look at nonfiction, so I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune and Mrs. Deanna Jump for a deeper look into non-fiction books and some great deals!


Nonfiction texts make up 50-85% of books in children's libraries (Tomlinson & Lynch-Brown Essentials of Children's Literature).  It's a statistic that takes a moment to sink in, but there you have it.  Now, think about the books you read in your classroom.  How many of them do you think are nonfiction?  If you are like me, it's probably not 50-85%.  What does that mean for our students?  It means that many students will struggle to read 50-85% of the books in libraries because they do not have experience with this type of genre in their early classrooms.

It's easy to assume that because a child is reading at a certain benchmark, it means that they are able to read any book at that level.  Nope!  Different genres present different text features and structures, and it is through repeated experience with a specific genre that students learn to read and write in that genre. 

So that takes us to our first discounted product for Two-for-Tuesday.  My Nonfiction Text Features will be on sale for 50% off for today AND tomorrow (as I am a little late in getting this post up today!)  

This product is a great reference tool for students. I hang up the individual feature posters right in front my teacher table so that my students have easy access to them during our reading groups.  

The activities provide a great introduction to the genre when accompanied by the reference posters, and the games are a great tool to reinforce them!

I always do better with concrete examples, so let's take a look at a book that you can actually use with beginning readers.  Koala, by Edana Eckart, is one of many great books from Scholastic's Welcome Books Series. (I also love their Pebbles series!)

This book is a Guided Reading Level F, so it's great for high Kindergarteners and Firsties!  Plus, it's about koala bears... Who doesn't love koala bears?!?

Here is a looks at the simplicity of the text. You don't need anything fancy to start introducing nonfiction. Just accurate, engaging and purposeful.

The first text feature that your students will encounter is the Table of Contents.
It's a great conversation starter and helps introduce many ideas that they can refer back to later in the texts. 
  • What do you think the numbers 4, 8, 16, 22...etc mean?
  • What do you think the words next to them might mean?
Slowly start guiding them to realizing that the Table of Contents is a list of topics in order of how you will encounter in the book.  

One of my favorite things to tell students is that you don't have to read informational texts in order! It BLOWS their minds!  It's a fun way to start comparing nonfiction and fiction. They will often say something along the lines of, "If I started Snow White in the middle of the story, I would be really confused!"

As you may have noticed from the example page above, this book highlights key words in bold! The first time we encounter a bold word, I love asking them why they think the author would do that! Their answers vary, but eventually they realize that they are important words, and often words they don't know.  It's a perfect intro into the glossary!  

Students have fun trying to read the pronunciations, and putting the definitions in their own words. They come to recognize glossaries as a valuable tool, and they excitedly flip to it every time they come across a word in bold!

When we are done reading the book, students often see the index and ask what it is.  

When I remind them that many people do not read the entire book, and sometimes only pieces of them, it will often prompt one of them to exclaim, "So you could look to see if this book talks about eucalytus trees without having to read the whole thing!"  

Often they will ask why books include both an index and a table of contents?  We compare the two to see differences I and similarities. Typically, once they realize that the index is an alphabetical list and more detailed, they recognize its uses separate from the table of contents.

I hope this has encouraged you to select some great nonfiction texts this coming school year! It's an important set of skills that our students will not necessarily pick up without explicit teaching and repeated exposure!

As it is Two for Tuesday, I will keep with tradition and mark down last weeks product again at 50% off!
You can check out last week's Two-for-Tuesday post {HERE} to read more about how to implement this product into your classroom!  Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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