If you can tell me what is cuter than a student who is missing their two front teeth singing, “All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth,” then you win a prize. I was reading a non-fiction book about going to the dentist with Christa Anderson’s 1st grade class in Montana and they surprised me with a fantastic song. The song that this teacher chose was absolutely fitting since we had just talked about the dentist.
When most people think about reading books to kids, the first thing that comes to mind are our favorite fiction books. That is fantastic. Kids need to hear really good stories, but did you know that most boys typically enjoy non-fiction books. If all of the books that we introduce students to are fiction, then we are doing our students a grave disservice.
Christa Anderson absolutely knows the importance of introducing her 1st graders to non-fiction text. In fact, she even teaches them the different elements of non-fiction text. See, we don’t actually read non-fiction text the same way as we read fiction text. There are many features in non-fiction text which are never seen in fiction books. The following features of non-fiction text make great mini lessons
- Table of Contents
- Bold Print
- Real Pictures
- Zoom in pictures
- Time line
- Color Fonts
Students need to be taught about these features, since most homes in the early years are comprised of fiction text. I often see that when struggling readers are reading, they will completely skip nonfiction features like bold headings and captions and go right to where the paragraphs are to read. This deeply impacts their comprehension because these are details that add so much to the understanding of what we are reading.
Christa Anderson was a great teacher to work with because she totally valued the importance of non-fiction text. In the book that I was sharing there was a list in a chart form and she wanted to make sure that her students saw the list and recognized it as a feature of non-fiction text rather than glancing over it.
I love having the opportunity to work with such amazing teachers and see the wonderful things that are going on in their classrooms. Take a look at part of our experience together.