Friday, July 20, 2012

Reading Nonfiction with Young Children

In our house, we love books.  We spend hours and hours reading.  We enjoy all books and every day, we read both fiction and nonfiction books.  Occasionally, I have friends ask me how I can get my girls to sit and listen to a nonfiction story.  Their children think that nonfiction books are boring and that fiction stories are more exciting.  I remember feeling like that as a kid, so when I became a mom, I decided that my children were going to love all types of books.  In order to make this happen, we have done several things in our home:

1. We started reading both fiction and nonfiction to our children even before birth.  In fact, when Abigail was a newborn, I was in graduate school.  I had hundreds of pages of research to read each week, so I held her in my arms and read it out loud to her.  As a baby, she heard more research articles than children's stories!

2.  We make sure that the girls see us reading nonfiction books, magazines, and newspapers.  Young children love to do what they see grownups doing!

3. Our nonfiction books are housed with our other books, so my girls don't even know that they are different from fictional stories.  Don't get me wrong; we talk about "real" and "pretend", but they don't see one type of book as being better than another.

4. We choose nonfiction books that are related to their interests.  For example, Abigail LOVES George Washington, so we read many books about him.  Charlotte loves babies, so we have several iBooks about baby animals.  We also read books related to animals we see on trips and about places we've been or that friends/family are visiting.

5. When we read books, we take turns choosing the books.  When I notice that it has been a while since we have read anything nonfiction, I choose nonfiction books during "Mommy turn".

I am thrilled that my girls love books so much and that they get excited when we read all stories.  It makes me smile when they ask to read a nonfiction story, as I love when our story times can be so educational!  I worry that it won't always be this way, but I am thankful that, for now, they love nonfiction books too.

Marla is a former special education teacher and current PhD student and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of two little girls (ages 1 and 4).  She blogs about homeschooling at Marla's Motherhood Musings and her family's experiences living in Zambia at Our Life in Lusaka.

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