Paired Fiction and Nonfiction for Literacy

Paired fiction and nonfiction can help students learn to think critically while comparing text types – and enjoying fun stories!

This week we’re highlighting our Spring 2021 series My Community. With four illustrated fiction titles and four photo-driven nonfiction titles, all at GRL A-D, this series explores different types of communities and how they change over time. Easy-to-read nonfiction text describes communities in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Fiction titles explore communities through simple stories with charming art. I Look Up, for example, has a child noticing her surroundings on a rural farm, while Wait, Ride, Walk has a family using public transportation in a city. Each book uses simple text patterns to support emergent readers as they build recognition of high-frequency sight words and gain content vocabulary.

My Community is part of Lerner’s Pull Ahead Readers brand, which presents core early learning topics using paired fiction and nonfiction. Educators find this paired approach helpful for a variety of reasons. According to Lisa Romano, vice principal at Montgomery Lower Middle School in New Jersey, nonfiction can give critical context for understanding the motivations of characters in fiction. Readers can gain empathy by better understanding the time and place where a story takes place.

“Reading nonfiction can help students better understand the psychological setting—why characters may be considering or thinking about things the way that they are,” says Romano. “We are building their empathy muscles” and helping them “consider what others were thinking and why.”

Furthermore, readers with differing learning styles can engage with common themes and have deeper, more meaningful discussions on the topic with the help of fiction and nonfiction. When children are learning to read, pairing fiction and nonfiction can help them better understand the characteristics of both types text types. Educators can do side-by-side comparisons to encourage students to think critically about how content is being presented and how to learn from both types of writing.

Paired texts are a great way for students to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills while also fostering empathy for others. Check out My Community and the other Pull Ahead Readers to see paired fiction and nonfiction in action!

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