Melissa Stewart: Building Knowledge About Our World
I think if kids want to connect to ideas, a great thing to do is to pair a fiction and nonfiction book. That way kids can have exposure to both kinds of writing. But I think also just looking for the topics that kids are fascinated by. I think one of the best ways to turn a child into a reader is to feed them a steady supply of books on topics that they find fascinating.
And if you’re in a school setting and you can do what’s called a reading ladder where you’re slowly increasing the complexity of the books that you’re handing to that child, that’s a great thing to do. I think also trying to give them stacks of books and just see how they react to them. Which topics do they seem interested? Which writing styles do they seem interested? Which of the five kinds of nonfiction do they seem most interested in?
And that can help you get to know them as a reader, but also get them to know themselves better as a reader. And just immersing them in nonfiction, giving them an opportunity to sort the books into different categories for themselves and to see what the wide world of nonfiction has to offer. They may not realize themselves, teachers may not realize themselves. A great thing to do in a professional development setting is to go to the school library and see what’s on a particular shelf in the nonfiction collection and what are the different kinds of books there. And to discuss ways that different kinds of books can be used in the classroom setting and in the library setting.