The Common Core State Standards require that we now give equal emphasis to both fictional literature and informational texts. I found this great website that gives more information about this shift from Teachersfirst.com:
There are a number of factors that led to this shift. Numerous studies have shown that students (in general) are engaged in reading very little informational text during the school day—in many cases less than five minutes per day. The study “Reading Between the Lines” (ACT 2006) determined that students who reached the benchmarks in reading for the ACT exam were those who were able to analyze and interpret complex texts. In 2006 the number of students who reached the benchmark was the lowest in over a decade. Why? Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards offers the following:
- K-12 reading is primarily narrative in style, while college and workplace reading is mostly expository
- Research shows that K-12 school texts became easier after 1962
- Instruction is heavily scaffolded in grades K-12, but less so in college
- High school students are not often held accountable for independent reading
The Common Core demands that our students do a lot more reading in the course of their day and that there is a balance of literary and informational text. If we are to move students along a path of reading and understanding texts of greater complexity to assure their college and workplace success, then we need to build in more experiences with expository/informational texts.
So, I am doing my best to expose students to high-quality nonfiction text but with our older reading series that is often very difficult. I have found that it is also extremely difficult to find exemplar informational text at the appropriate reading level. BUT… I have found something I LOVE - National Geographic KIDS books!
I use these books during our guided reading time with my on grade level and above grade level reading groups. (My most emergent readers are not yet ready for these books). These books are very affordable especially if you purchase them through Scholastic BookClubs. I found this set of three books for $8 or 200 Bonus Points. Another great way to get your students hands on these books is by writing a Donors Choose project. I have had a lot of success getting books for my classroom through Donors Choose, try it out!
I am working on a Martin Luther King Book Guide and presidents packet that I will have posted in January!