Overcoming the Challenges of Teaching Informational Text
It is important that we increase the amount of informational text we use in the primary classroom. However, using it as an instructional tool to teach children to read presents many challenges. Structure and text challenges in nonfiction books are very different from those in the fiction books we are use to working with.
One of the big challenges is that nonfiction books often have unfamiliar concepts. It is important to introduce students to these unfamiliar concepts in your book introduction. When planning your lesson, look through the book carefully for what ideas or words may be unfamiliar to the students. Use the pictures and think about how to introduce each new concept so the first reading of the book will go smoothly.
Here is a video of me working with a group of emergent readers using the book Kittens (Level D/5). I want to make sure the students understand what a newborn kitten is before reading the book.
While this took longer than I usually like for a book introduction, the first reading of the book went very well. My time was well spent.
When I take the time to carefully select the nonfiction book and plan my introduction, I am always pleased at how successful the first reading can go. The enthusiasm from the young readers lets me know I am on the right track!
Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.
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