What's Special About Nonfiction?
This lesson introduces students to the concept of nonfiction — the role it plays not only in class, but in daily life.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
This lesson will provide students with a strong foundation for reading, writing, and using nonfiction.
- See that while nonfiction may be different from a fairy tale, storybook, or novel, it can be fun to read
- Understand that nonfiction will play a role not only in this year's curriculum, but in daily life for years to come
- Identify some of the basic characteristics of nonfiction literature
- Classroom social studies or science textbook
- Example of fiction (e.g., storybook)
- Samples of nonfiction literature (books, menus, maps, magazines, etc.)
Step 1: Discuss what nonfiction is with students:
- Point out examples that are all around them: books about their favorite animals, lunch menus, maps, classroom magazines, etc.
- Define nonfiction: It gives information. It explains, informs, or persuades.
Step 2: Use the chart below to guide a discussion of the characteristics of nonfiction and how reading nonfiction is different than reading stories or novels. Use examples from a social studies or science textbook to illustrate some of these characteristics.
Characteristics of Nonfiction Text
Step 3: Reassure students that these unusual features should not discourage them. Explain how these characteristics are “clues” that will help them understand what they're reading.
Step 4: Have students share experiences they've had with nonfiction. Try these prompts:
- What books about real people, places, and events have you read?
- Do you enjoy reading these types of books? Why or why not?
- When you look at an article or a biography, do you look at the illustrations and read the captions?
- What websites do you visit?
- Have you ever had to read directions for a board game or ingredients in a cookbook?