Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Non-fiction: Teacher-Recommended

Just the other day, I had the chance to listen to a couple of outstanding, local kindergarten teachers talk about important concepts to work on with young children to better prepare them for success in kindergarten. One of the things that the teachers mentioned was to encourage reading more non-fiction books. They said that even though some kids do a great job retelling stories and can tell you all kinds of details about what they heard after they’ve been read a fictional story, many of their students struggle to provide any kind of information about what they’ve learned after listening to a non-fiction book.

I’m always encouraging parents to read factual books about topics that interest their children because of all of the new vocabulary words presented in non-fiction books and the general knowledge that these books provide about the world around them. Hearing that these teachers see a need is just one more reason to expose kids to non-fiction from an early age.

Using the book Elephants (from one of my favorite non-fiction series for young readers, Seedlings) as an example, here are some strategies to help your child with critical thinking and comprehension:

-After reading, ask him to tell you something new that he learned: “What is one thing you learned from this book?”

-If he struggles to come up with something on his own, ask him a question that’s a little less broad: “Do remember anything about how elephants eat?”

-If necessary, guide him even more: “Do elephants use hands to get food into their mouths?”

-If he still can’t come up with anything, you can answer your question: “The book said that elephants use their trunks to get food into their mouths! Can you imagine picking up food with your nose?! Let’s read that part again!”

-Another great approach is to talk about what you hope to learn before you read the book: “I want to know what elephants eat. What do you want to learn? Let’s see if we can find out the answers while we’re reading!”

Are you already in the habit of reading non-fiction with your little ones? If so, what are some ways in which you assist with and check for comprehension and retention?

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