Introducing non-fiction to childrenPosted: July 8, 2020
In our modern world, sources of information assail us from every direction. An internet search turns up dozens, and sometimes even hundreds, of links to information on every conceivable topic. Television provides documentaries on historical events, scientific topics and numerous programmes that cover every aspect of nature. A visit to a grocery store exposes children to newspapers and magazines which share articles on a wide variety of political, social and other topics, not to mention the headlines of newspapers that glare at us from street light and other poles as we travel from home to school and other places during our day.
High school learners are provided with numerous texts and sources of additional information on each and every topic they cover in nearly all of their subjects.
The quantities of information available are huge and not all of it is factually accurate. There is a lot of inaccurate and even total fake information out there.
It is, therefore, vital for children to learn to filter text and identify the important facts and information, in other words, to summarise it. It is also important for children to know they should check information to more than one source in order to ensure it is factually accurate.
Providing children with non-fiction books is an excellent way of ensuring they get accurate and reliable information and, if you select good non-fiction books, they are also appealing and exciting for children.
Here are four tips for choosing non-fiction books:
- Books with large clear photographs are attractive to children and help them contextualize the content of the book;
- Look for books that present the facts succinctly and without becoming bogged down in to much unnecessary detail. After reading the content to or with your child, summarise the main message/s about that topic or on a particular page;
- For very young children, ensure that the content is simple and fairly repetitive with only a few new vocabulary items so as not to overwhelm them; and
- Look for books that provide additional information for adults at the back. This is helpful for expanding on a given topic with your child and answering any questions.
A few great ways of encouraging an interest in non-fiction reading by children are as follows:
- When you are doing something that provokes questions like why is the sky blue or why do bees sting, take the time to look up the answer to this question with your child and show them how to use internet sources and books to find the answers to their questions;
- Integrate non-fiction with play. I did this with my children by showing them how to read recipes when we were baking, using ideas from books when building and constructing with lego or blocks and even with marshmallows and reading to them about mountains, hills, lakes and rivers when we were playing in a sandpit or on the beach. We used sand for lots of fun activities like building forts and a pirate island. I used these opportunities to follow up with a non-fiction story about pirates and soldiers. I did the same thing when we visited any places that lent themselves to learning more about a specific topic like mining or farming; and
- Make your own non-fiction materials and demonstrate various learning points. I build a mountain out of paper mache and showed my children how water carries seeds down into the valleys, Michael and I made a sword and a roman helmet out of paper mache and learned about the Roman Empire and we made a sheep out of cardboard and cotton wool and learned how animals help to distribute seeds.
About Robbie Cheadle
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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