Are Your Kindergarteners Discouraged from Borrowing Nonfiction?
Here is a guest blog from Angela Boccuzzi-Reichert, teacher librarian at the Dr. Lorraine A. Sherwood Library, Merton Williams Middle School in Hilton, NY since 2001.
My four year old son loves non-fiction, bring him to a bookstore or library and he parks himself in the non-fiction section grabbing books on the human body and atlases of the United States. In a recent conversation with a colleague I discovered that upon entering kindergarten the students are “not allowed” to take non-fiction books out of the library. When I asked why I was told it was too much to manage. Thinking this was just a rule of this particular library I investigated and found a number of elementary libraries do the same, the reasoning the books are too hard and my favorite response is we just start with fiction.
I began thinking, with all the studies about boys and non-fiction why do we squelch their desire for facts? Sure the books my son enjoys are too hard for him but he loves looking at the pictures. He asks my husband and I numerous questions about what he is seeing and absorbs the knowledge like a sponge.
Now, as I think of it I am guilty of the same thing. The middle school library where I am the teacher librarian, is well stocked with fiction, while our non-fiction section is lacking. Recently, an ELA teacher did independent reading using non-fiction. Students that usually hate to read, mostly boys, love this assignment and are devouring the books put in front of them. I am currently surveying this team of students to determine what their interests are and where our collection is lacking. This conversation with my colleague has also forced me to think about the importance of non-fiction and the question of why do we as educators focus on fiction when we know the draw of non-fiction for some of our most reluctant readers?