Noticing Nonfiction

Choosing a NF Read Aloud

Kids love expository. They love the fun facts, "wows," and "that's-so-cools" that come with learning about real stuff. Often we as teachers dread the nonfiction units, but it in these units where we sometimes connect with our struggling readers.

I had the opportunity to hear Lynda Hoyt and Seymour Simon talk about the power of the nonfiction read aloud this summer at ILA. Here are some tips for making your nonfiction read alouds a thing of beauty!



  1. You HAVE to make time for nonfiction read alouds. Shorten a fiction one if needed. Also, the beauty of NF is that you can just read sections, chapters, paragraphs, etc.
  2. Approach nonfiction as an exciting story. Use voice inflection, build suspense. Get them intrigued. Look for books that have a WOW factor!
  3. Use photographs and diagrams to bring the text to life. Use your smartboard as a backdrop. Imagine finding a large photo of an underwater scene as you begin to read a book about sharks.
  4. Be picky. Not every nonfiction text is created equal. Picture reading your car's information manual. I don't see any of you pulling that bad boy out for some enjoyable reading on the weekend. That kind of nonfiction is meant to just deliver information. It's okay to look for really cool informational texts.
  5. Look at visuals. Build background knowledge so that kids want to keep reading.
  6. YOU DON'T HAVE TO START ON PAGE 1! Skip around, it's okay.
  7. Sketch, think, visualize and encourage questions while reading.
  8. Look for nonfiction poetry. Kids connect with poetry.



Have fun. Choose some really great texts to share with your students.

Activities for Playing with Nonfiction

Sketch to Stretch

Pause to Sketch, to Think, to Visualize and Talk...then add MORE.

Teacher sketches, AND the kids sketch!


Cover Up

Use a sticky note or oops tape to cover up a heading or text feature.

A heading might or might not be there.

Pause and ask them to predict what might be under the sticky note.


Key Word Strategy

As you read aloud, pause and generate key words from the section. What does the author want you to get from the reading? You can even use Alphaboxes to record. This would be a great strategy for reading in science or social studies!

Big image

What's going on in this picture?

Thanks to Miss Goodman at Birmingham for sharing this awesome idea! The New York Times publishes photos for students (or anyone) to think about.


You could use this several different ways.

  • Oral language conversations using sentence stems. "I notice..."
  • Make an inference about the picture and support with evidence.
  • Practice formulating questions about the picture. Students could write or the teacher could do a shared writing.
  • Place a photo in a literacy station. Students could discuss, write questions, descriptions, or a story about the picture.
  • I wonder...
  • What if...?


The options are endless!

Seymour Simon's BUTTERFLIES: Book Trailer

How can I help?

Please feel free to reach out and contact me for any questions or ideas. I'm more than happy to help!