Everyone who has paid any attention to recent research knows the value of giving students experiences with nonfiction text. As a matter of fact, some researchers suggest that 50% of reading material should be nonfiction. Does simply changing out book titles, though, ensure students are growing as readers?
Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke share some great pointers for teacher of reading in Text and Lessons for Content Area Reading (Heinemann, 2011) and Text and Lessons for Teaching Literature (Heinemann, 2013).
- Text should be shorter, not longer
- Readers should self-select their text, not read teacher-assigned material
- Readers should have background knowledge on the subject, rather than be exposed for the first time through heavy print
- The reading material should be of personal interest to the reader
- The text should contain visuals
- Readers should be proficient in visualizing, inferring, questioning, and rereading, not just scanning for answers
- Readers should be allowed to mark in the text, not prohibited
- Readers should be able to discuss the text before, during, and after reading, not reading in isolation
- Readers should have experience writing in the same genre, not just reading in the genre
While a print-rich environment can literally change a person’s life, adding nonfiction titles to classroom or home library is not enough to build a reader. Reading experiences, even SSR/DEAR times, should be intentionally planned and scaffolded.