Engaging Readers in Informational Text

Do your students gravitate more toward fiction books? I have often faced this problem as well. When I think about it, maybe it isn’t a problem, but it is something I need to be aware of in the classroom.

We want our students to have a wide variety of interests. Different genres are important for students and they need to find ways to become engaged in many different areas of reading.

Reading informational text helps the students understand more about the real world, learn facts about real things, and helps them learn to use tools in reading that they may not find in fiction resources.

The question remains though…

How do we get our students interested and engaged in informational text?

Some kids just love informational books. My son for instance is one of those kids. He is only in Kinder but he doesn’t favor Critter books, he wants space books or snake books. However, most of the kids I have taught favor fantasy or even realistic fiction.

There are five things that you can do as a teacher to help the student engagement of informational text increase in your classroom (not matter what age of student you teach!)

1. Direct teach the difference between a fiction book and a non-fiction book.

This may seem very basic, but so many kids (even in 5th grade) come up and say…”is this informational?” They truly do not know! It is not the fault of anyone, it is just something they have not learned to grasp yet. I always show this video, and I LOVE it! Kids of all ages love it too!

Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction Video

It shows two movie clips about penguins. One is a fiction movie and one is a documentary (informational is what I call it in class!) I feel it really helps the kids grasp the difference. Then of course we look at actual books and discuss the difference.

Making an anchor chart helps tremendously too! I like this one from Mrs. Denson’s Adventures!

Part of the Common Core ELA Standards requires students to be able to read informational text and determine meaning. We think this reading note can be really handy and useful!:

2. After you know they understand the different it is time to immerse them in the text. 

Kids need to have time to read informational text to become familiar with the types of texts they like, and learn how to work their way through the text. The best way to do this is to provide informational text sections in your room.

I love Creating Readers and Writers Blog and she has a picture on her blog of a set up for the younger kids with informational text!

Creating Readers and Writers:  Nifty Nonfiction Blog Post  {See Mrs. DuMoulin's classroom library... it's packed with fun and exciting nonfiction!}:

It is easy to duplicate this with the older kids too though! Just book baskets, labels, and informational books!

3. Read informational text aloud to students! 

If the kids know you are interested in it, they will be too. Also, there is something that we teachers add to ANY text that makes it more special. 🙂 My favorite sets to read to my students are the I Survived Series and the Who Was or Who Is Set!

The kids LOVE these books and they are great for the teacher to read because you can get in some history lessons too! 🙂

4. Teach the students how to work through text features. 

Text features can be a bit overwhelming for struggling readers. The bold print, captions, graphs, etc. The students see all of those “extra words” and “numbers” and want to give up.

I have fallen in love with this DIY text feature poster from Create Teach Share’s Blog!

I have fallen in love with Non-Fiction over the past few years. I used to find…:

The kids love putting all of the pieces on and they have a great visual to look back at throughout their readings! We used file folders and old magazines from Scholastic! Worked like a charm! The students really need to understand all of the features or they will want to shut down while reading.

5. Lastly, encourage students to choose books they are interested in reading. 

So many times, students just go grab a book, flip through it, then grab another 5 minutes later. Lather, rinse, repeat until reading time is over. Am I right? I love this blog post from Conversations in Literacy!

Giving Students Choices with Informational Text- great freebie for doing this!!:

She talks about giving the kids choices but also about helping the kids choose a book that is right for them. Students can be easily disenchanted with reading if they are not interested in the books. Having the students take time to think about what attracts them to a book, what topics they are most interested in, and what they are curious about will help them develop a love for reading informational text!

I hope these 5 things have helped you think about informational text in your classroom and how you can better assist the students in your room to become engaged in reading all types of literature!

Happy Teaching!

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