Do you need another way to build excitement and enjoyment of learning for your students? Try pairing fiction and nonfiction texts.
Pairing fiction and nonfiction texts is an authentic way to integrate Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. It can provide the bridge our ELLs need, as well as providing benefit to all students. It is a great way to build vocabulary and show children the same words in different genres. It helps the children to make connections with the world and themselves.
I participated in a book study on Rigor is Not a Four-Letter Word. In the book Barbara Blackburn talked about how pairing the two builds rigor. I thought I would incorporate it more with my students. Wow, my students and I loved it! It helped to build my excitement because I could pick some of my favorite classic books to experiment with, and the children loved connecting the two because of their natural curiosity. We had so much fun!
I used what I had in my room as my first pairing. One of my groups was reading at guided reading level H, so I chose The Goat in the Chile Patch by Lada Josefa Kratky and Goats are Great by Alyse Sweeney (a Reading A to Z book). I would suggest you pick a fiction book that you enjoy and look for a nonfiction pairing.
Here is a list of Pairings that Scholastic suggests and others that I added.
- How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
- Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons
- Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold
- A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adler
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Ducks! by Gail Gibbons
- Verdi by Janell Cannon
- Pythons: Fun Facts & Pictures For Kids by Lilly Carle
Here are a few tips to help you get started. I have included photographs from my classroom for visual support.
1. Pre-teach vocabulary words. (3-5 words)
Choose words that are in both the fiction and nonfiction texts.
Review 1-2 Tier One words (basic words that are commonly spoken).
Teach 2-4 Tier Two words (high frequency words used in many contexts).
Teach 1-2 Tier Three Words (words that are content-related or applicable to a specific subject).
2. Complete a KWL anchor chart or KWL printable on the subject about which the children are reading.
What do you know?
What do you want to find out?
What did you learn?
3. Have the students read the texts. You may choose what best meets the needs of your students.
- Interactive Read Aloud
- Partner Reading
- Guided Reading
4. Have the children complete a story map or plot summary of the fiction book.
5. Have the children fill in the KWL after reading the nonfiction text.
6. Complete a Venn diagram or graphic organizer comparing the two texts.
7. Compare and contrast in writing how the two are alike and different.
Our English Language Learners may need to be supported by using sentence frames.
Pairing fiction and nonfiction provides rigor in your classroom! It enhances your students’ reading comprehension, expands their vocabulary, knowledge, and interests, and builds great excitement for learning! It is effective no matter what grade you teach. You might want to give it a try.
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