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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Guest Blog on Nonfiction in Elementary School

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?

 

Comments

  1. bestbookihavenotread says:

    This specific topic was one of conversation in our school recently. As Director of Curriculum, I had a first grade parent come to complain about how their child was not allowed to check out nonfiction or any book thicker than his pinky. That seems arbitrary and against most of what the current research says about allowing students to have access to books at many different levels. Through a number of informal conversations, I found that most teachers don’t agree with the policy but that they are afraid to broach the subject with the librarian. I’d be curious to see what other elementary schools have in terms of a policy regarding checking out books. Think I’ll need to check into that for second semester.

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    Please do check and report back — this reminds me of the thread about how many books kids are allowed to check out. These efforts at control may do a great job of keeping books on shelves, but at the cost of losing potential readers for those books.

  3. SB says:

    I would have thought that as a teacher librarian we want students to borrow books, and lots of them. Whether they are fiction or non-fiction is not the issue. I’ve now moved to a high school library but always encouraged students to borrow both fiction and non-fiction.

  4. WendieO says:

    In my public library, parents are always amazed when I lead them to the nonfiction section when they ask for books about trucks, space, or animals for their 4 or 5 year old. People have NO IDEA of the number of easy reading nonfiction books for youngsters which also have large pictures or photographs. (Which is why I participate in Nonfiction Monday on my blog and only review nonfiction books for preschoolers and early elementary students.) Wendie Old who blogs at wendieold.blogspot.com