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There’s a big debate raging, sparked by the new Common Core State Standards, which require public schools to ramp up the use of nonfiction text in the classroom in a big way. ?There seems to be a lot of back and forth about whether or not these new standards will help or hurt our children. ?Will they be more prepared for college and the workplace? ?Or will their imaginations die on the vine?
Personally, I don’t know the answer to these questions. ?I do know that my own kids have been exposed to both fiction and nonfiction at home and in the classroom, and seem to be equally enamored of both. ?At the moment, my daughter delights in reporting the adventures of the mouse protagonist of The Tale of Despereaux which she is reading at school, and my son has just surfaced from total immersion in the Alex Rider adventure books now that he’s read all nine cover to cover. ?But when he came home with a biography book report assignment, they both started reading the “Who Was” stories and now they can’t get enough of Helen Keller, Paul Revere and a number of other historical figures who, while not talking animals or super spies, are heroes in their own right.
As an English major and avid reader of fiction, I confess to a bias toward flights of fancy over the more prosaic. ?I also happen to be married to a History major who will back Stephen Ambrose to my Jane Austen any day. ?I’m not sure who would win that particular fight–I like to think that the power of Persuasion could hold its own even against Undaunted Courage. ?Truthfully, though, it needn’t be a fight at all, but rather a united front with a common goal:?inspiring our kids to read, read, read!
At the end of the day, encouraging them to read by exposing them to a wide variety of genres and subject matter is the best way I can think of to start them on the path to becoming lifelong booklovers. ??And that’s a love affair that should start at home, before they can even read the word curriculum.
Here’s why we like ALL kinds of books!
Fiction/Sci-Fi/Fantasy??Let your child’s imagination run wild with books that allow them to think outside the box and foster creativity, while ?exposing them to universal themes in a nonthreatening manner.
History and Historical Fiction ?Allow them to learn from and about history! ?They will gain a different perspective on the present by connecting more deeply with the events and characters of the past.
Biography? Kids get inspired by biographies and often can identify with role models and inspiring people when they know more about their life stories.
Informational??Why, why, why? ?Kids are full of questions, about how things work, why things are the way they are, and these kinds of books provide the answers they crave. ?Kids often love becoming an “expert” on topics that interest them!
Poetry ?Rhyming can help teach kids how language works, and often children’s poetry can be whimsically funny. ?In addition to some chuckles, what a great medium for kids who aren’t ready for the focus required of lengthier writing.