How to Engage Students by Pairing Fiction and Nonfiction Texts

Hello, my name is Jill Richardson. I am honored to have the opportunity to share with you today!

 

It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

Do you need another way to build excitement and enjoyment of learning for your students?  Try pairing fiction and nonfiction texts.  Most of my career has been in teaching reading in the primary grades.  This year I am teaching English as a Second Language and loving it! 

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 this year 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.
  1. Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
  2. Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop
  1. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
  2. Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser
  1. How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
  2. Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons
  1. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  2. Bats by Gail Gibbons
  1. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman
  2. Police Officers on the Go by Alyse Sweeney
  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  2. Snowy Weather Days by Katie Marsico
  1. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  2. Recycle That! by Fay Robinson
  1. Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold
  2. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adler
  1. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein
  2. New York City by David F. Marx
  1. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  2. Ducks! by Gail Gibbons
  1. Verdi by Janell Cannon
  2. 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.
It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

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.

It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

For example:

Ducks
What do you know?
What do you want to find out?
What did you learn?

It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

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
It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

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.

It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

6. Complete a Venn diagram or graphic organizer comparing the two texts.

It's possible to engage kids by pairing fiction and nonfiction texts. This post gives a list of suggested pairings and tips on how to start this process.

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.

Please enjoy for free: Verdi!  Compare and Contrast Verdi with a real Python! (Paired Reading!)


Jill Richardson

Jill is an ESL teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Her love is teaching reading in the primary grades.  She has been teaching for over 25 years in both private and public schools.  She has been a literacy teacher for grades K-5, an early education director, a literacy facilitator, and a classroom teacher of kindergarten, first, and second grades.  Find Jill on TPT and on Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “How to Engage Students by Pairing Fiction and Nonfiction Texts”

  1. I will be trying this,it sounds interesting to me.What i usually do though is pick a fiction book and we will make connection to real facts using some elements of the story.

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