Early Years Non-Fiction: A Guide to Helping Young Researchers Use and Enjoy Information Texts

Early Years Non-Fiction: A Guide to Helping Young Researchers Use and Enjoy Information Texts

Early Years Non-Fiction: A Guide to Helping Young Researchers Use and Enjoy Information Texts

Early Years Non-Fiction: A Guide to Helping Young Researchers Use and Enjoy Information Texts


This lively and informative text examines children's first experience of non-fiction during the pre-school and foundation years. Its careful consideration of different kinds of quality non-fiction, including books, posters, charts and computer software will provide a helpful framework from which early years teachers can work. Annotated lists, notes, and suggestions for further reading make this is an ideal source of inspiration and stimulation placing literacy teaching in a fresh, modern context. This book offers a rich resource of information, with illustrated case studies and many examples of children's responses to non-fiction providing: * coverage of pre-school and foundation years for children up tonbsp;six years of age * references to research findings on the place of non-fiction in early years * references to the National Literacy Strategy, Early Learning Goals and the National Curriculum for English *nbsp;a substantial glossary of terms relevant to non-fiction reading and writing. The author's zest and expertise helps to give this book an infectious enthusiasm that will permeate the classroom, providing the nursery and primary school teacher, student teacher, or classroom assistant with an invaluable guide and resource tool.


Non-fiction can engage the interest of children from a young age and encourage them to reflect and ask questions. The best non-fiction or 'informational' texts have imaginative appeal and contribute significantly to children's learning. This book aims to present a coherent notion of how to introduce very young children to these texts and to help them take the first steps in informational reading and writing. I have been particularly aware of the needs of student teachers but I hope the book will also be of interest to teachers and indeed anyone concerned with early years literacy. I have kept three things in mind: how children's language and thinking develops; the importance of the range and quality of the texts we select; and the need to create meaningful contexts for non-fiction reading and writing. These three aspects of non-fiction learning work together throughout the book but each comes into sharper focus when appropriate.

Most of what I have to say about the under-threes is in the early chapters while the later chapters concentrate on the years from three to six, the children in what are now referred to as 'the foundation years'. This transition is signalled by a passage headed 'Moving forward' which nudges us towards the concerns of older nursery, reception and year 1 children.

Chapter 1 provides a theoretical framework for the book; it gives a selective review of relevant research on the development of children's language and thinking and offers a model for integrating non-fiction into other learning activities. It looks at what is involved in learning from both first hand experience and secondary sources, and considers how the two kinds of learning interact in good practice. Three important principles, well established in sound early years practice, are identified as underpinning informational kinds of literacy. First, children learn actively; they explore their world like young scientists or young researchers. They learn actively before they come to nursery school and this is one of the strategies the nursery team builds on. Second, learning is energised by taking place in social and collaborative contexts. Talk is powerful in all learning, not least when it comes to conversations around texts. Third, the role of the adult is very significant in extending children's learning. I say 'adult' because, in addition to teachers, parents, other relatives, carers and older siblings are important mediators between children and the world.

Chapter 2 enters the world of babies and very young children and considers their response to the environmental print which surrounds them at home and outside. The account then turns to the board, bath and cloth books-many of these are 'informational' in that they help children name, count and label-and the many exciting interactive books which straddle the boundary between toys and books. Short case studies share the encounters of three very young children with early information books. That very important category of early non-fiction, the alphabet book, is the focus of chapter 3. New alphabet books and old favourites

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