Meaning Matters

Guiding the development of young readers through the use of meaningful literacy experiences


3 Reasons Beyond the Common Core to Write Non-Fiction

Posted by meaningmatters on April 28, 2013 at 4:30 PM

3 Reasons Beyond the Common Core to Have Young Children Write Non-Fiction 

The Common Core has placed a strong emphasis on the use of non-fiction in the classroom. Now learners of all ages need
 to become acquainted with the structures and features of informational texts, 
both as readers and as writers. More recently I have made an extended effort to explore non-fiction writing with my kindergarten children. I see many reasons, beyond the Common Core, that I should have been doing more of this all along.

3 Reasons to Have Young Children Write Non-fiction

  1. Young children are full of curiosity and wonder about the world. Early childhood educators strive to create learners who question and explore. Non-fiction is the genre that best allows us to explore and understand the real world. It is natural to take the concrete, hands-on exploration of the early childhood classrooms and extend it to include a recording component.
  2. Non-fiction writing can offer broader choices and sometimes more appealing features for reluctant writers. Ralph Fetcher has recently published a book titled Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices. In this book he talks in depth about the need to provide boys with choice in writing. He asks teachers to consider how they might give boys more leeway in terms of topic, language, and humor. Many current writing programs do offer brief units of study on non-fiction. Text features of non-fiction can hook reluctant writers. Diagrams offer a way to communicate a significant amount of information with limited writing. This is a nice feature for children struggling with or developing fine motor or phonics skills. In my classroom it has been interesting to watch reluctant writers thrive when given options beyond “small moments” and personal narratives. 
  3. Non-fiction surrounds us in everyday life. Everywhere we look, there are menus, recipes, letters, directions, signs and maps. We use non-fiction writing throughout our day - everyday, which makes it easy to integrate into learning centers. The opportunities in dramatic play and science centers are endless. I have always read non- fictions books with my class. Over the past couple of years, the use of non-fiction in my classroom has become more integrated into my everyday teaching. 


It is funny to think back to a time when my class would generate questions about the chicks that we were hatching, and after school in a quiet classroom I would explore the questions, seek answers and generate charts or notes to help explain the information.  Why did I do this alone? Isn’t this a clear example of why and how to read and write non-fiction? Non-fiction topics appeal to young children’s natural sense of wonder. Now I go through this process WITH my class. 

As teachers of young children we can capitalize upon these opportunities to foster meaningful writing opportunities. 

Categories: Writing, Reading, Mini-lessons

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1 Comment

Reply April Prince
10:52 PM on April 29, 2013 
Great post! Writing nonfiction is also empowering for our young learners because it allows them to become the 'expert.' And some nonfiction topics, like animal life cycles, have an inherent structure that can give reluctant writers something to grasp on to. Thank you for the thought-provoking ideas!