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GRN Interest Group Spotlights Importance of Non-fiction Texts

The Global Reading Network’s Non-fiction Interest Group seeks to empower individuals and organizations to develop and publish high quality non-fiction (also known as informational text) for children in developing contexts, and to share best practices in non-fiction literacy instruction.

Incorporating appropriate non-fiction in early childhood and primary literacy is critical for developing students’ background knowledge and vocabulary, increasing familiarity with academic language patterns, and motivating readers by capitalizing on children’s natural curiosity about the world, according to group co-founders Christabel Pinto of Room to Read and Emily Miksic of FHI 360. Quality non-fiction texts are engaging and appealing, and some children may find their way to reading more easily through non-fiction than through fiction. To date, EGR projects have done well at establishing processes to develop fiction in rapid and scalable ways, and we are challenged to do the same for non-fiction while simultaneously ensuring a high level of quality.

The Non-fiction Interest Group works to discuss current research, share best practices and example texts, and generate innovative ideas for text development. The group’s goals include identifying and developing guidance tools to improve the quality, variety and relevance of children’s non-fiction books. The group also aims to raise awareness of the importance of non-fiction in early grade reading, to support knowledge of how to use non-fiction in early literacy instruction, and to serve as a forum for networking.

Since its inception, the group has organized a series of successful presentations focusing on various aspects of non-fiction:

  • Introduction to the SIG. Sharing survey results and providing an overview of different kinds of nonfiction with examples. 
  • The Missing Genre: Creating Quality Non-fiction Books for the Early Grades, Christabel Pinto, Room to Read. Pinto discussed best practices in developing non-fiction texts in low-resource contexts, sharing examples from Room to Read’s experience developing 30 non-fiction titles in Tanzania. Access information from this presentation here.
  • Comprehension Instruction Strategies in the Early Grades: A Focus on Informational Texts, Mariam Jean Dreher, University of Maryland. After defining informational (or non-fiction) texts and giving examples of various types, Dreher discussed various comprehension strategies readers can use for understanding informational text. She provided practical ideas and examples of strategies teachers can use before, during, and after students read to aid their comprehension. Access materials from the presentation here.
  • Non-Fiction Rocks My World: From Editor to Author of Children’s Non-Fiction Books, Laura Atkins. The author of three books and the editor of multiple award-winning non-fiction books, Atkins discussed many inspirational and informative books teachers can use to engage students in reading and enjoying non-fiction. To download a copy of this presentation, click here.

To join the group, contact Christabel Pinto at Christabel.Pinto@roomtoread.org or Emily Miksic at emiksic@fhi360.org.