A LOVE for Nonfiction!

Hey there!  I hope this post finds you in great teacher spirits! 🙂 🙂  This post is content based, but I just had to put a summer spin on it with the sea turtle!  I hope that is okay HA!  Onward.  I have to admit when I first started teaching I read VERY few nonfiction texts and rarely if ever did my students read nonfiction text on their level.  I didn’t have anything per-say against it…it just wasn’t what was modeled for me, studied in college, and basically I just wasn’t exposed to it.  Thinking back…it’s hard to do but I remember children’s literature in college and we made thematic units based upon narrative texts.  However, we never discussed how we could easily pull in some nonfiction selections as well to pair with.
It really wasn’t until two years ago when we started close reads that I understood what a DIFFERENCE nonfiction texts meant and just how POWERFUL they are for engagement.   I never, ever, never, ever thought that my student would be more engaged with a nonfiction text, compared to a narrative text.  Now, I’m not saying they don’t l-o-v-e narrative texts as well…but there is something about nonfiction that draws them to the edge of their carpet squares.
I know, I know…wow there she goes jumping off one education lily pad to another. No. no. no.  I think we are now good judges of characters and realize that BALANCE is key in education.  So, a paired selection of nonfiction and fiction is perfect!  Anyway, I think it’s great for the students to make connections across the genres!

 When I thought about this post and how to explain why I thought nonfiction was important I couldn’t help but think of the “why” in the our students.  Let me explain it…

Today we will learn about frogs.
Student: Why?
Teacher:  We are going to learn about frogs so we can see how they grow compared to how you and I grow and change.
Student: Why?
Teacher:  Frogs are part of a life cycle that takes many steps.
Student: Why?
Teacher:  It is important to know how we grow and change, but equally important to know other life cycles.

Do you see how nonfiction topics SPARKS the minds of our young learners…I feel that teaching nonfiction “forces” me to explain to students the WHY and allows for them to ask their own WHY questions!

Of course the experts will go to say that as adults we mainly read nonfiction and because of that it is so important to teach our young readers not only how to read nonfiction selections, but also how to love reading nonfiction!

I can go on to say and I’ll explain it more later in the post, but after really incorporating more nonfiction into my classroom I realized how awesome students became WRITING informative selections!

Here is something also to ponder….some will say that young primary students first learn how to read before they can read to learn.  Do you agree?  Do you feel students have to have a firm understanding of reading before they can comprehend and apply their reading into knowledge?  Hmm.  I am under the impression that if a very young child can look at the McDonalds sign and say..”Mommy, look it’s McDonalds!”  They are not only reading, but fully applying that knowledge into their lives! 

 In my classroom I first introduced nonfiction into my classroom through close reads.  It was kind of like the first close read cracked open the flood gate and then it quickly just busted open and flowed freely!  I no longer had to feel like I was “forcing” nonfiction into my day…it just came natural to my students and myself as well.  Below I will take you through an example close read week that complimented informative texts!

Whole Group Reading:

Our close read used the Butterflies informative text from National Geographic, but you can see below the other nonfiction selections we used throughout the week for writing/content!

Adding in fiction and realistic nonfiction books in the week…

Below is a perfect example of how easily we can tie in the narrative and informative texts!

In the weekly close read I also post two essential questions we work on for the week…one is more of a skill-based question and one more life and/or content study based!

No one can deny the importance of vocabulary study in our classrooms!  You of course can study vocabulary terms in narrative texts.  However, I’ve the the students REALLY enjoy the vocabulary words we get from our informative texts!

Experiencing it in Hands-On Ways:

I like to find hands-on ways for the students to experience our study for the week and these butterfly plastic figures were a hit!  For students that had never seen a caterpillar/chrysalis they could now see with their own eyes which will forever change their understanding.
To explain to the students about our vocabulary work, pollination, we used a hands-on exploration activity!  There is just a difference in my teacher telling me about something and me actually experiencing it!

We also had caterpillars in our room and released them once they were big and strong butterflies…I mean just icing on the cake, right? HA!


I admit that it is not always easy to integrate informative studies across the curriculum, BUT when we are to the kids are so into it! This week there just happened to be a text that fit our informative study and math big idea so we went went it!


Yes, I’ll defend your art and crafts projects!  People… the kids deserve to explore their creativity! These two projects took maybe 15 minutes each of class time, but forever keepsakes and memories that will last a lifetime! 🙂

Just as important as the TEACHER reading me informative text…is ME reading it too!  It took me last year to get my feet with with adding in more informative texts whole-group.  This year I knew that I wanted to get those same rich texts…in the hands of my kiddos!  I still remember the day I gave them the first one I made…it was like I just fed them chocolate…they were all over them…pointing and chatting it up, and READING! Most of all…I saw the love and passion…right there! BAM!
Just listen to this little guy…

Here are some snapshots of the readers in action…

You’ll notice that they have REAL pictures and labels for the kids to use!

 Each of the readers also have a fact check page for students to go back into the text and comprehend.

If you’d like to snag up these readers I have two sets!  The first set has 15 topics and the second set has 24 topics.  The topics don’t overlap so they are 39 topics to choose from!


Just as important as reading informative texts…is to WRITE informative stories!  It wasn’t that my students couldn’t write informative stories pre-close reads.  However, now it is just so seamless and the connection between reading and writing is solid!

If we are studying butterflies and our writing focus is informative…BAM we have that in the bag!  Below are the nonfiction writing story booklets from the close read I mentioned above!

Each day we would read a new informative butterfly text during writing and students wrote additional butterfly facts.  I feel as if in the morning we were reading a story about boy who was having a very bad day…and then at writing we were writing about butterflies students would have felt disjointed.  Now it just makes sense!

Not only do we write informative story booklets {on select weeks} during our whole-group writing…students also write nonfiction booklets as a choice option during work on writing.  This is time of independence while I pull reading groups.  I started to see their love for nonfiction writing towards the end of the year and they would come and ask how to spell chameleons, octopus, etc.  So, I made these nonfiction topic cards!

I placed them in a basket and they could easily access them and select one and grab a blank informative writing booklet!

You can grab the topic cards, blank/editable story booklets, and pre-made booklets for 50 nonfiction topics in the packet below!


During small groups we also started doing some informative research projects!  I had the kiddos give me their topic.  I then searched the library for books that matched!

They took the time to dive into the books and record their facts.  Once completed the students put all of their facts into a topic pamphlet and they were able to present them to the class! 🙂

You can grab these research templates for FREE… just click below!

We had several opportunities to bring in great “life” experiences throughout the year and we have several more planned for next year!  It’s just amazing to see the kids light up at these! 
We were were studying ponies we made a trip to a farm and saw REAL ponies!

When our teacher told us there were many colors of apples…we saw it firsthand and tasted them all!

When we learned that seeds needed soil, water, and sunlight to grow…we tested it out!  We saw that our grass didn’t grow for an entire week because there was no sunshine…but them once their sun came out…so did our grass!

I wanted to also share with you the themes I have planned for next year! Most are the same from this year, but a few have changed! Now not all of these weeks are we using nonfiction as our primary text selection.  Actually, 15/35 weeks fiction is our focus.  However, you’ll notice that besides the fairy tale weeks…all of the other themes lend themselves to informative study!


Tales {3 weeks}
Luther King Jr./Diversity
to Plant
& Changing


Now I’ll be honsest…it isn’t always easy to include nonfiction in our weeks.  However, I try to see benefits of it and push through.  I will always try my best to make it easier for you to do this! Together we know what is best and we got it covered:)

I’d LOVE for you to use the following hashtag anytime you are prepping something with a nonfiction focus or as you work on a nonfiction study in your classroom!  It will be great to see all of your ideas as well!

 To celebrate nonfiction I am placing all of my nonfiction resources on sale through the week for 20% off!  Below is what’s included in the sale 🙂

That’s it for today…oh and hey, have a GREAT week!


  1. HI Tara!

    Thank you for an amazingly detailed post. I apologize for this off topic question after all of your hard work, but I just have to ask it. What do you use to take your pictures? They always look so clear! I ask because I just made a slide show for my students and the pictures are less then desirable. I'm on the look out for something better for next year. 😉


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