I am a huge fan of using paired fiction and nonfiction texts in the classroom. It’s a great way to get students to try new genres of books. Those who believe nonfiction is “so boring” can learn just how exciting facts can be. And those children who don’t like “make believe stories” can learn how much research actually goes into writing a fiction book. Plus it makes for great discussion, stimulates student inquiry, and covers a multitude of common core requirements. It’s a win all around.
I am using books that are on the 2015 NSTA/CBC Best Science Trade Books list.
Pair it with the fable Two Parrots by Rashin Kheiriyeh. This story explores what happens to parrots who are caged instead of allowed to be free. It is sure to start a lively discussion among students about animals in their natural habitats versus wild animals as pets.
A Baby Elephant in the Wild by Caitlin O’Connell tells the amazing feats of baby elephants from learning to walk within hours of birth to learning what is safe to eat. The photographs and text will engage young readers.
Pair it with any Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems. The two books will be a direct contrast and will make an excellent discussion about the differences of fiction and nonfiction.
Batman Science by Tammy Enz explains the science and engineering behind the batmobile, Batman’s utility belt and the batcycle.
Pair this book with the classic Batman – the World of the Dark Night by Daniel Wallace. Engage your students in a discussion about the difference of science fact and science fiction and how they relate.
The Griffin and the Dinosaur by Marc Aronson is a great book that explains how the ancient myth of the Griffin is related to dinosaur fossils found in the Gobi desert.
Pair this book with the novel Saving the Griffin by Kristin Nitz. Your students can compare and contrast the fictional Griffin with the fossil evidence and draw their own conclusions.
Discussion questions for paired text readings:
- What is the purpose of each book? (to teach, to entertain…)
- Is the information in the nonfiction book different than in the fiction book? List the differences.
- How are the fiction and nonfiction books similar? List the similarities.
- What facts did the fiction author use in their book?
Common Core State Standards
Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text
Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text