I like stories. Stories that are cute, stories that are fun, stories that rhyme or have pretty pictures, stories with happy endings, lots of stories. :) However, I know that non-fiction has it's place and is very important. It's not that I dislike non-fiction, but given the choice I'll usually pick a fiction book.
Soooooo, I was recently reminded just how important it is for children to hear nonfiction read aloud. It taps into a whole new set of listening skills. Evidently my kids need lots of practice!
When we were learning about penguins we read a nonfiction book. It had great information and a lot of fun facts. I realized how important those listening skills are. My class has a habit of blurting out answers without thinking. One page was about different kinds of penguins and their names. The question was "Why do you think the penguins have this name?" One was the rockhopper penguin.
You should hear some of the answers I was getting. "Because it has those feathers on his head" and "becasue it can swim", So, I'm saying "Now listen the name is ROCKHOPPER penguin". Someone answers "because it can slide on it's tummy!" Me again: "The name is ROOOOCKHOOOOPPPPER penguin.... what could that be telling us?" At this point I'm trying not to laugh. Who has a great inferencing activty? I need it ASAP! Someone FINALLY gets the correct answer and then we move on to the chinstrap penguin.
Things are not much better here. Some answers include "because he has a chin" and "because he likes to be scratched on the chin, like I like to be scratched on the back!" I decided it was time to give lots of clues and move on. :)
The thing that really got me was the comprehension questions at the back of the book. I had to get a piece of paper and start writing the answers down! They were so funny. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud! The question was to name 3 types of penguins. They managed to get a couple (with reminders) and then I started giving hints about the chinstrap penguin. Here are some of the answers and I promise I am not making this up: "copper head penguin", "copper strap penguin", "copper hopper" and "robber hop". The answers were coming quick. At this point I'm thinking we really need to be reading lots more nonfiction! Retelling fiction is a lot different than recalling information and names of things.
**Disclaimer- Before you think my little sweet kinders are totally dense, I do want to point out that they did get some questions correct in between the ones I told you about!**