Posted in Education, Family, history, Library, literature, Opinion, reading, Uncategorized

Why read nonfiction at every age

You either love it or you hate it. There’s not many people who are in between (I’m sure you exist just bare with me). I’ve heard the argument many times “I don’t read nonfiction because it’s boring”, “It’s too hard to read”, “I just like stories that are made up”. All are valid points for certain titles and authors. However, there’s a whole world of nonfiction that is far from boring, hard, and read so much like fiction you’ll be amazed that it’s not made up.

Reading nonfiction is beneficial to you as an adult, and even more so to children. Since common core was initiated, nonfiction became a higher percentage of what children had to read per grade which is a good thing and a bad thing. I hate the idea of children and teens growing a resentment or dislike for nonfiction because they are forced to read it (much like what happens with the classics) but I do like that they are at least being more exposed to it.

Why Read Nonfiction?

0-5

Early literacy education focuses mostly on just inspiring the idea of reading

and the want to read. However, most of the books that children get exposed to in these younger years are fiction. There’s nothing wrong with that, the cartoons and illustrations are one of the main things that draw young children into books in the first place. There are nonfiction books though that are great for this age range. The series of books called the “tabbed board books” that feature real photos of different topics are wonderful for young readers. They see things they can relate to, things they see everyday, and start to learn names for all of these things. Plus they are bright and colorful so they keep their attention.



6-12

I read an article awhile back (I believe the stats were from 2013 or 2012) that said students only spend 5% of their free time reading nonfiction. While it’s not that hard to believe it’s still such a small percentage that I get worried. Obviously, there is a huge correlation between student’s who read on their free time receiving good grades, versus students who do not read on their free time receiving bad grades (not everyone, just the stats).

Nonfiction is great for hesitant readers in this age group. The nonfiction titles may not be as “age defined” as some of their fiction cousins. For example, there are some nonfiction books about the Titanic that a six year old could enjoy or a twelve year old could enjoy. Nonfiction is also great for boys. Yes, I’m being sexist here but again statistics show that after the third grade boys are much more likely to stop reading on their free time than girls are. I still don’t know why that it is I wish I did so I could fix it. However, some of my reluctant boy readers took really well to nonfiction. Sports, war, history, science, things like that are interesting when they are written about the right way. Do some exploring with your student until you find something they like to read about.

                   

12-18

Teens should read nonfiction for the same reason that middle school and elementary school students should: it will help their grades. Period. They will be smarter. You can’t read a nonfiction book (a well written one anyway) and not be a little bit smarter afterwards (unless it’s a political book but we won’t go there).

I feel like when I was in high school there wasn’t a lot of “YA Nonfiction”. Young Adult wasn’t even really a “genre” the way it is now. There was a handful of titles considered “teen” but it wasn’t the powerhouse it is now. YA Nonfiction has come light-years and is sometimes more entertaining than adult nonfiction. Again, it’s just finding what your student is interested and will take to the most.

                                     

18+

You’re not a student (well you may be a college student I don’t know, for argument’s sake we’re going to say you’re not). You’re not a student, you have no papers to write, no reports to be had. Why in the world would you waste your precious free time reading nonfiction? Reading is supposed to be fun, relaxing, enjoyable. Nonfiction is all of those things if you find the right authors. There’s more to nonfiction than studies and statistics being spit at you in the text of page after page of information.

If you are hesitant, or you have tried several nonfiction books but just cannot seem to get into them, try memoirs or true crime. Sometimes true crime can get a little sciencey, but a lot of true crime I’ve read reads more like a soap opera. I adore memoirs if they are well written.

                         

My favorite is history, usually American history but some eras in European history are also pretty fascinating. Some people just skipped this whole section as soon as they saw history. I get it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, there are some amazing authors in this category to try.

Health and wellness is a new topic I’ve been reading. It’s one of the most popular topics at my library but I’ve never really been interested enough to read a whole book on a wellness topic. Now, I can say I have read a few that I didn’t get through because I thought it was boring, and I’ve read a few within a night or two because they were very interesting. Just have to find your niche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science and medical nonfictional can definitely fall into one of those harder to read categories. Certain authors make it more “story like”. Mary Roach is a really good one, and Bill Bryson.

                              

Folklore and fairy tales are categorized as nonfiction. Oddly enough this is one of the most frequent questions I get asked by students and adults; “why?”
Well technically, classic literature and poetry should be in nonfiction as well. All of these forms of writing give a scholar, or whoever is reading the work, a glimpse of the culture that the work came from. So for example, by reading Native American folklore, historians can learn what different values tribes held that may not be documented anywhere else.

 

Feel free to post any other suggestions!

 


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Posted in Education, Library, literature, Opinion, Poetry, reading, teaching, Uncategorized

Thunderstorm poetry, the best of

I’ve said it before, I’m not a huge poetry fan, but there are some that really stick to me and I just keep rereading over and over. I did a post about “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowing Evening” awhile back and I think nature poems can just move you in a way that a story can’t. I saw this post and wanted to share it.

 

The best poems about storms Weather is a perennial theme of poetry, and not just nice weather: more violent and extreme weather, such as storms, thunder, and lightning, has produced some classic poems, as this list of the best storm poems aims to highlight. Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei’. […]

via 10 of the Best Poems about Thunderstorms — Interesting Literature

Posted in Education, literature, parenting, teaching

Five Fascinating Facts about Of Mice and Men

For any teen having to read Of Mice and Men for the first time as an assignment, please try to not hate the book because you HAVE to read it. It’s always been one of my favorites and I’m glad it’s still on some reading lists.

Check out this post about some interesting facts on Of Mice and Men.

Source: Five Fascinating Facts about Of Mice and Men

Posted in Education, literature

The Best Facts about Classic Authors

I have been so surprised with how many of my younger students who have been interested in the classics. I think supporting that interest is very important and knowing background information can make them more appealing.

Interesting Literature

Since we began publishing our occasional series, ‘Five Fascinating Facts‘, a couple of years ago, we’ve covered a range of famous authors across well over 50 posts. What follows are our 15 most popular posts in this ‘Five Fascinating Facts’ series (hence our labelling them the ‘best’ of all our author-related facts posts). Further information (and more interesting facts!) about a particular author can be found by clicking on the links provided, which take you to the full post. For the archive containing all posts in the ‘Five Fascinating Facts’ series, click on the link provided above.

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Posted in Education, Library, literature, parenting

Runny Babbit: a cilly sassroom

I have to say I think that sometimes, due to my own faults, I get so caught up with trying to come up new and exciting activities and programs that I totally dismiss the classics. I have always been a HUGE Shel Silverstein fan but until coming to work at a school library I didn’t think he was still popular. The students love his work and A Light in the Attic is still one of my most checked out books (and Falling Up as well). What’s funny is that on Center Days, when the students have to do an activity at their tables, whoever is at the “Poetry” table always sighs. I already kind of touched on this before so moving on…

Today was the end of our grading period and, with other projects going on, I wasn’t prepared fully for our centers this week. So I grabbed Mary McLean and the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for my first graders. Great, they liked it okay. But for my third graders I gave them the option (with spring coming and the weather finally turning nice) to read that or Runny Babbit. Of course there was an overwhelming amount who wanted the latter.

Not only were they good in class (and quiet for the most part) they all wanted to try and read the tongue twisters. I had to cut them off eventually because they needed time to look for books. Again this should have seemed like such an obvious class day to me but it didn’t! I guess I just wanted to add this post for those newer teachers like myself who are trying to reinvent the wheel, maybe you don’t always have to. Maybe somethings are classic for good reason and you just need to think back on what YOU liked when in school.

Here are some other activities I found after actually looking that include Shel Silverstein’s work as part of the lesson:

<p>Teach Shel </p>

This website is strictly for Shel Silverstein’s work and lessons to go with it. There’s two I am now planning on using in the future.

The Giving Tree Lesson Plans and Creative Writing Worksheets and Ideas

The Giving Tree alone provides so many opportunities for activities with students. I did use this book for an assignment with the older students where they had to do literary analysis on children’s books. This link above is another option for that particular book.

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This is a really neat activity done with third graders about visualizing what they are being read.

Posted in Education, Library, literature, Poetry

‘Her Kind’, Their Kind

I am still struggling with coming up with meaningful lessons for my older students to do next year. This year really got away from me and I know with the centers I have planned I am pretty much already booked. I have started to revisit some of my old favorites in hopes that I would be inspired by them.

In these “centers” I mentioned, there is one for poetry which most students automatically sigh and want to vomit as soon as they see that’s where their name tag is. I, (even as a writer and lover of all things literature) was the same way. School kind of made me hate poetry. If I had to analyze “The Red Wheelbarrow” one more time I was going to put myself in one and roll off of a cliff. I don’t want to do that. I want the students to explore poetry that they will actually like. It wasn’t until I was out of school that I even started to read poetry for fun again and I did end up enjoying some of the poems I grew to hate from having to scrutinize them.

I just reread one of my favorites and I have decided that the students need to just be offered a large variety of poems to read and let me know what they take from it, not what I think, or what the scholars think they should. We obviously will look at imagery and the meanings behind some things they may not understand but all in all I want to know what the poem says to them.

‘Her kind’ by Anne Sexton.

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. © National Portrait Gallery, London Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne – the most famous political hostesses and society beauties of their day – are shown gathered around the witches’ cauldron alongside their friend, the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer. Date 1775  Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire a...

Posted in Education, Library, literature

Analyzing “The Raven”

At the beginning of the year we (8th grade and I) tried to analyze “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. Naturally, when you analyze anything with 8th graders, and most grades I would say, they want to know “did the author mean to do that?” When going into the mood, the theme, the motifs throughout the poem (and “The Raven” is riddled with them) I was asked this time and time again. For some poems I want to say, “no I don’t think the author was really thinking about that when they wrote it.” For “The Raven,” I don’t know. I am torn because I do believe Poe to be one of the most talented writers ever to be in print and yet there is a piece of me that is like “ehh maybe that was an accident?” I found this blog post that kind of reitterates the argument that I wanted to share.

Guest Blog: ‘The Raven’ – Nevermore.