The Truth Is out There! All Children Love Stories but It's Essential They Learn to Read Non-Fiction Too. Caroline Phillips, Allyson Theo and Si,n Smith Have Tips on Expanding Your Child's Horizons

Article excerpt

Non-fiction is text that is based on fact dealing with real people, events and experiences.

It is different from the world of the imagination (fiction), such as Harry Potter. Examples of non-fiction include newspapers, biographies and blogs.

Non-fiction is an exciting genre and can act as a vehicle to unlock new information about a pharoah's tomb, for example, or help you to discover new recipes or find out how Nelson Mandela coped with life as a political prisoner.

Non-fiction is particularly appealing to boys who like to read facts that they can tell other boys about, Boys, in particular, like to swap facts with each other.

It is important not to forget that non-fiction also appeals to girls, some of whom love nothing better than following the latest fashions and gossip in magazines.

Basically, non-fiction appeals to readers of both genders and all ages: imagine new, glossy and exciting reference books from volcanoes to biographies and board games to the Olympic Games.

What is special about non-fiction? Non fiction texts can... * Address children's interests and questions.

Develop and expand vocabulary. * Build knowledge of the world. * Be found everywhere (road signs, menus, food labels) Use the TV to improve reading Some children's non-fiction is commercially supported by programmes such as Blue Peter and Newsround.

This is a growing market. Currently, an extremely popular TV programme is the Deadly 60 and the Deadly 360 series which has gripped children with its wildlife tales.

The books which support these series are becoming hugely popular reads.

The benefit of having seen the television series means that children already bring prior knowledge, expectation and excitement to the reading experience before even turning the page.

Newly published non-fiction books tend to contain bright pictures, photographs, charts and fact boxes that help make the books more visually stimulating for children.

They also make the reading less overwhelming as children can choose to read as much or as little as they like.

Enhance your child's reading experience WHEN reading non-fiction together with your child, pick up the text, flick through the pages and see what grabs your child's attention.

Talk about what you can see on the photos, diagrams or maps. Find out what your child already knows about the topic and what they would like to find out.

Look carefully at how the text is organised and become familiar with the glossary which will help explain unfamiliar words (normally found in the back of the book). Use the contents page to find a specific topic. It will direct you to relevant chapters. Finally, use the index (at the very back) to find pages with more information about a key word.

The facts your child discovers can be shared with family members and friends. So make opportunities to share what you find out - such as telling people what the Romans put in their toothpaste (something nasty - Google it!).

Select and read the information that suits you both. Read it in chunks that are not necessarily in order. You may just want to scan a page to answer a specific question such as, 'How many crowns does Queen Elizabeth own?' Specific questions, such as this, might benefit from an internet search and print out from a reputable website.

Howto help your child read non-fiction Reading non-fiction requires a slightly different skill to reading fiction. …