Non-Fiction Books Shared Reading for Emergent Learners

Non-fiction books can be very engaging for kids in Special Education but how do we move from ‘all about me’ and their focused interest areas? What non-fiction texts would grab the attention of our learners and hold it, during group time? Read on for some great ideas shared from the fabulous Jodie Rodriguez.

Growing Book by Book

Jodie Rodriguez from ‘Growing Book by Book’ gave a great webinar as part of ‘Soar to Success 2019’, hosted by Vanessa Levin (Pre-K Jodie specialises in encouraging young children to enjoy a range of books. She makes recommendations for teachers and librarians. I found it so valuable I am going to share suggestions from this fabulous session.

How to choose a suitable Non-fiction book

Many of us can name a number of great fiction books and how to engage even the most reluctant of readers. However, how many of us can recommended a great non-fiction text? A question we need to ask is ‘what makes a suitable shared reading non-fiction book?’ Add in the fact that we have many emergent readers in Special Ed settings and it is a tough challenge? When considering this, Jodie suggests that we keep in mind the acronym W.A.T.E.R.

  • W = wide variety to meet the needs of many
  • A = accuracy. Accurate up to date information
  • T = time. How long is it going to take to engage in the book? Is it suitable for the developmental stage of your shared reading group?
  • E = engaging. Is there a way to have the learners involved?
  • R= Rev up Curiosity. Is there something about the cover or the content that will get the learners thinking at a deeper level? Does it enable kids to connect to their own experiences and extend?

Non-fiction books – The Recommendations

Here are some suggestions from Jodie Rodriguez with links to Amazon (no affiliate just info as a starting point), so you can read some more about them and check out the pictures.

  1. Martin Jenkins

    BEWARE OF THE CROCODILE: Fun topic for emergent learners and full of information about crocodiles.

  2. Laura Weston

    THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN: Black and white with flaps that open to color. Monarch butterfly life cycle.

  3. Sophy Henn

    LIFESIZE: Compare the size of their body parts with animal real size body part pics. E.g., paw of a polar bear, ‘nose’ of a toucan, Minimal text. Large book and pics.

  4. Ivy Press – Shine a light books

    AT THE LIBRARY: Great for back to school or community themes. Hold a flashlight to the back of the page and it reveals hidden objects. There is one for topics like ‘sea shore, rain forest, hospital, fire station etc

  5. Antoinette Portis

    HEY WATER: All the places we find water. Shows labelling so great introduction to aspects of non-fiction texts for transitional learners.

  6. Christy Hale

    WATER LAND: Compares forms of water and the land surrounding the water form at an emergent level.

  7. Christy Hale

    DREAMING UP: Photos of children building with different types of blocks then a picture of a building that could be represented is displayed.

  8. Jory Hurley

    SKYSCRAPER: Great for learning action words. One word on each page for example pour, roll, tip. Simple great big pictures to accompany. Can get all kids engaged in doing the actions. Other books by author: ‘Hop’; ‘Ribbet’; ‘Every Color Soup’.

  9. Hanah Eliot

    CELEBRATE THE WORLD: 4 different books. Great basic introduction to cultures and celebrations. Board books but you could blow up or record and put on an interactive white board: Dia de los Muertos; Ramadan; Luna New Year and Diwali.

  10. Robin Page

    SEEDS MOVE: All the ways seeds can move (blown, on animals, travel in water etc and how they then land and grow

  11. April Pulley Sayre

    BLOOM BOOM! Beautiful full page photos from seeds, to shoots to flowers. Simple text. Repeated line Bloom Boom will make it great for engagement. Others in the series are ‘Rain Drops Roll’, ‘Best in Snow’, Full of Fall and Thank You Earth.

Next steps

So where to now? Because the information came from the fabulous Jodie Rodriguez’s maybe head on over to her website for more great ideas on books. Then, please feel free to share this with librarians and anyone else involved in purchasing or teaching who may like great non-fiction books.

Enjoy exploring everyone and have a great week.

Aroha, Ann

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