When you think of children’s books, you may think of popular literature genres like fantasy and adventure that captivate the imagination of young readers. But nonfiction books offer a wealth of benefits for young readers too, and can often be more exciting and interesting for many children.
Nonfiction children’s books are a powerful way to encourage reluctant readers by tapping into their special interests. They also introduce your child to new vocabulary and fascinating facts about people, places, things and events, building their overall background knowledge in an engaging and age-appropriate way.
Nonfiction books are also a great way for children to develop critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as the ability to read and understand complex texts, which is a major indicator of sustained academic success.
Here are some tips to help you choose nonfiction books for your child:
1. Talk about nonfiction. Explain to your child that you will be reading a nonfiction book. This means that the book will give you information that is true. This simple task will help your child understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction.
2. Find out your child’s passion. Your child probably has a special interest in something, whether it’s cars, ballet, football, music or animals. Find nonfiction books that suit your child’s interests and read them together to help your child gain more understanding from the text. Don’t worry too much if the book looks too complex; nonfiction books don’t have to be read from cover to cover.
3. Make connections with what’s happening in your child’s life. Are you planning a trip? Collect reading material about the place you are visiting, including websites, maps and travel guides. Is there an art festival happening in your local area? Gather books about painting, artists and different ways people create art.
4. Match their best-loved fictional stories with nonfiction books. Think about the books or films that your child already enjoys and choose nonfiction books that match. If they have enjoyed a movie which features dinosaur characters, find books about fossils, archaeology and extinct species to tap into their new-found interest.
5. Choose books with captions, diagrams, photos, maps and illustrations. Books with different features and parts are a great way to introduce your child to analytical reading. Help them refer to diagrams, charts and illustrations after reading relevant sections of text. Don’t forget to also help them navigate the table of contents, index section and glossary.
6. Go on a day trip. Visit a new place together, such as a community garden, dog park or sporting field, as a way of introducing your child to a new topic. Choose nonfiction books that relate to each trip. If your child has any immediate questions, avoid answering them directly and let them know that you will read a book together later to find out the answer. This will help your child develop a habit of researching questions from informative and factual texts.
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