The Importance of Nonfiction Books in Classroom Libraries


“A non-fiction writer is a storyteller who has taken an oath to tell the truth”
   ~Russell Freedman, American Biographer

Independent reading time is becoming more and more prevalent in daily classroom curriculum. Having a large classroom library to support student book exploration is integral to maximizing this piece of balanced literacy. During independent reading students are tasked with choosing a variety of texts based on their own interests. Many teachers will try to tempt students to read heftier fiction or curriculum-linked nonfiction, but do we ever allow our students to browse the science section without direction?

Reading nonfiction for the joy of learning builds vocabulary, critical thinking, and analytical skills that are essential in our information-heavy society. Young readers are curious and love to share facts about information they are passionate about, so it is essential that a classroom library include a wide range of nonfiction texts on different levels and subjects.

In effort to keep reading for fun during independent reading… we’ve comprised a list of tips and tricks to help engage students with the all-important, nonfiction portion of the classroom library:

Tips to Keep Nonfiction Reading Fun:

1. Use narrative nonfiction picture books to help introduce topics that may be unfamiliar or difficult to comprehend – illustrations and an engaging plot can make all the difference!

2. Fill at least 50% of any classroom library with a wide-range of nonfiction subjects on many different levels including: science, social studies, history and biographies!

3. Be aware of your own biases – just because you find algebra a bit boring, one of your students might be obsessed with learning equations.

4. Highlight and recommend new nonfiction books that will appeal to student interests, the same as you would fiction titles. If a student loves fantasy titles, a nonfiction book on myths and legends will absolutely be of interest!

5. Share your favorite nonfiction text, even if it is an adult book, to explain why you wanted to learn about the subject and what new information you pieced from it.

6. Reference texts, atlases, and infographic books are excellent ways to foster curiosity in students who may have trouble picking out subjects they want to learn more about.

7. Graphic nonfiction is an excellent way to introduce more visual learners to subjects without sacrificing engagement.

Steps to Literacy
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