Fiction vs. nonfiction

JUST FOR PARENTS

May 27, 2001

Often when selecting a read-aloud book for young children, we tend to reach for fiction. Yet, as adults, most of our reading is nonfiction: manuals, newspapers, maps and the Internet. Research studies have revealed the scarcity of nonfiction reading in the early grades in school, too. This is ironic because young children really love to learn about the world around them. By integrating nonfiction books into your read-aloud agenda, you will help your child think critically and use skills that will prove valuable in later grades. One way to initiate this is to read a fiction and a nonfiction book on the same topic. This way, you can point out the some of the differences between the two.

* You read a fiction book from beginning to end. In a nonfiction book, you jump ahead, skip around and use strategies (such as looking at captions) to discover what the writer has to say).

* You may read a fiction book only once. You should always reread a nonfiction book for different purposes (first as an overview, a second time for finding details, and a third to take notes and answer questions).

* Children can be more easily mesmerized by a storybook than factual material. It's a lot harder to concentrate on the latter -- a lot of thinking and processing goes on, so break it up into shorter sections and allow time for the information to be absorbed.

* The pictures in fiction books relate to the events and characters in the story. In nonfiction, pictures, charts, graphs and other visual aids assist in retelling important facts and adding additional information.

* Memorial Day is celebrated the last Monday in May to honor the soldiers who died in any war in which the United States took part. Try the technique of comparing fiction and nonfiction books while helping your child learn more about the meaning of this holiday.

FICTION: "The Promise Quilt" by Candice Ransom; "Civil War on Sunday" by Mary Pope Osborne; "The War" by Eve Bunting; "Drummer Boy: Marching to the Civil War" by Ann Warren Turner

NONFICTION: "Civil War for Kids" by Janis Herbert; "The Soldier: Consolidated B-24 Liberator" by Paul Perkins, Michelle Crean and Dan Patterson (photographer); "Going Solo" by Roald Dahl

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Memorial Day and grieving

As the nation observes Memorial Day tomorrow, families coping with their own personal losses have a new resource -- the kind that can only come from someone who's gone through the same kind of grieving process.

"Dancing on the Moon" tries to explain the concept of death to children. Janice Roper's experience in losing an infant son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome inspired her to write a book dealing with the turmoil of emotions her daughter Selena was going through with the passing of her brother. The Maryland Center for Infant and Child Loss offered Roper the resources to make the publication of the book possible. It can be ordered from the publisher, SIDS-ES, by calling 877-935-6839 or online at www. DancingOnTheMoon.org. All profits from the book will go to grief support and information organizations.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Children's Chapter Book Best Sellers

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling. (weeks on list: 88)

2. "Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire" by J.K. Rowling. (45)

3. "The Bad Beginning" by Lemony Snicket. (29)

4. "The Vile Village" by Lemony Snicket. (3)

5. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling. (127)

6. "Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling. (102)

7. "Artemis Fowl" by Eoin Colfer. (2)

8. "The Reptile Room" by Lemony Snicket. (7)

9. "The Ersatz Elevator" by Lemony Snicket. (12)

10. "A Mother's Gift" by Britney and Lynne Spears. (5)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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