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Sharing Nonfiction with Kids

In my last blog post, I shared how there's a big problem for children. Kids love nonfiction, yet adults often (unknowingly) limit their access to engaging nonfiction. 

Yes, nonfiction can be a tool for students to research. BUT facts are fun! Nonfiction is so much more than just a learning tool. Let kids love nonfiction by engaging them in nonfiction books in a wide variety of ways.

Thankfully, more and more adults are finding ways to share nonfiction with children. I thought I'd share a few of the ways I've heard how my own books are engaging readers thanks to teachers, librarians, and caregivers like you. Of course, I hope you'll use these ideas to share the love of many more nonfiction books beyond my own. (And this is just a fraction of what educators do to share nonfiction books with kids.)

A Nonfiction Mentor Text

As discussed in some of my teacher guides, The Truth About animal series (Reycraft Books) lends itself well for students to study the question-and-answer format and use book to create their own Q&A writing. When a book is studied in this way, it's called a mentor text. 

One first grade class studied my animal books and then wrote Peep! The Truth About Chicks. Each small group chose a question and researched the answer to it. 

Then, they used the Q&A structure to write and publish their own book. It was truly amazing! These students also had the opportunity to research and watch chicks hatch in their classroom. 

Please see the detailed post at author Beth Anderson's blog for more details.

Animal-Focused Sibert Smackdown

An elementary librarian wanted to provide more opportunities for her students to experience nonfiction. In addition to reorganizing her nonfiction collection, monitoring her read alouds to be 50% nonfiction, Wendy also facilitated an animal-focused Sibert Smackdown for her students who studied a variety of nonfiction titles and voted on their favorite. 

You can learn about the Sibert Smackdown from Melissa Stewart's blog. (She shares the challenge each year.) It empowers students to select their favorite nonfiction book similar to the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award.

Then you can read all about how this librarian was very intentional about choosing books and providing questions and an easy way for even the youngest students to vote at her blog called Listen. Connect. Empower.

(I am greatly honored they chose The Truth About series as the winner!) 
Photo used with permission from


It's not just regular classroom teachers and librarians that use nonfiction books to engage students. All teachers can. 

I was talking to an Agricultural Educator. Krista told me she had taken a workshop that introduced her to Storywalk®. I knew her school would be perfect for a Storywalk®--walking your way through the pages of a book. I was so excited for her and her students. Then she told me she had already found the perfect book to meet her curriculum needs at a local store--and it was my book titled Soil (Rourke Educational Media). This thrilled me even more.
This winter she shared with me that the Storywalk® has had its first student visitors as well as some visitors from the school's microfarm.
Since then, I've heard of other teachers taking their students out to enjoy the Storywalks®--even eighth graders. I'm grateful to be a small part of their school experience. 

These are featured in parks, school grounds, near libraries, and more. There are a variety of ways you can create a Storywalks®.

Study Nonfiction Text Features

Some teachers have used my books to study a variety of nonfiction text features. Text features help readers to learn or find more information about a topic. Examples can be photograph captions, glossaries, and maps, but there are many more. You can learn more about informational book text features here. 
Photo used with permission from

Others use the books to showcase the importance of back matter which helps the reader to learn more about the topic after the story. You can learn more about back matter here. 

Here you can see the six pages of back matter in Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. One spread talks about helping owls. Another spread showcases the incredible anatomy of owls. The last spread includes a hands-on owl activity, glossary, as well as resources to learn more about owls. 

Debate if Dogs or Cats Are Better Pets

If you're around kids much, you might know the Who Would Win series by a variety of authors are quite popular in libraries. (For some elementary libraries they are THE most popular books.)

Knowing that made me even more excited to hear that a librarian, Chrissy Holcombe, is teaming up with a classroom teacher to facilitate a debate. The topic: Are dogs or cats better pets? Her hope is to take the dog and cat debate school-wide in the future.

The debate could be part of an Election Day or Presidents Day study. In addition to Meow! The Truth About Cats and Woof! The Truth About Dogs, Elizabeth Carney's book Cats vs. Dogs would be ideal to include.

Chrissy also told me about a few websites to help teachers facilitate debates. 

If this interests you, be on the lookout for a cat and dog debate guide later this year to go with my other educator guides. With Chrissy's input, I'm eager to put this together as a resource for other educators.
Photo used with permission from

Become Animal Experts

Therese Keegan, a second grade teacher, used Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls to help her students become owl experts. She shared the teaching points of reading nonfiction in a detailed blog post. 

I love how her students notice, learn, and wonder throughout their readings--all the while becoming owl experts.

As a gift!

Author and educator Carol Baldwin gave her grandchildren a copy of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. Since this is packed full of history, discussion, and activities, Carol also created several activity kits to go with it so the kids could complete the activities when they were ready. 

Here you see the pretzel rods, graham crackers, and frosting used to build a log cabin

ELA and STEM Activities in Teacher Guides

I created teacher guides for each of the wild animals I've written about. Thank you, teachers, for the incredible enthusiasm you have for them! If you're interested, find all the owl, spider, and frog teacher guides here. Shark and lizard guides will come near the time of the books' publication.

Kids Love Nonfiction

Remember, kids love nonfiction! Make nonfiction easy to access. Add nonfiction to your read alouds. Not just narrative nonfiction, but expository, too. Include nonfiction on reading lists. Let nonfiction be fun--not just to be used for research! 

Facts Are Fun

After a recent author visit featuring my presentation "Facts Are Fun," the librarian asked a question where the students chorused the answer: Nonfiction. But then, just like during my author visit, that word prompted the chant: Facts Are Fun!! I was so thankful the librarian shared that story with me because even the little things we do matter. Kids remember! Teachers, librians, parents--what you do matters. Celebrate your own curiosity and kids through nonfiction books! 

(If you need some ideas, check out this article I wrote about celebrating nonfiction through nonfiction books. And yes, I provide professional development to help, too!)

I'd love to hear how you're using my books! 

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1 comment

  1. Thanks for including Libbie and I. This is a great post! Carol Baldwin