The Tension Between Fiction and Non-fiction Texts

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It has been interesting to read about the requirements of the US Common Core curriculum, which stipulates that 50% of the reading undertaken by a Year 4 student should be non-fiction and 50% fiction. By the time American students are in Year 12, 70% of their reading will constitute non-fiction titles (Mosle, 2012). In the past there has been a natural leaning in primary schools to start children new to reading on fiction texts. This prevalence of mostly exposing children to one type of genre has in my opinion been hard on them once they hit secondary school. The majority of subjects and the content therein, is primarily non-fiction.

Therefore I agree that there needs to be more focus on non-fiction texts during the primary years so that students are more familiar with this type of genre once they are in secondary school. On a personal note, I have noticed that my son, who prefers non-fiction texts, also enjoys undertaking research on the Web and has become adept at finding quality information sources. My daughter, who prefers fiction and finds non-fiction “boring”, uses the Web more for entertainment. This could also be a gender issue?

My children’s school use the Benchmark Reading system to level and group children in reading. It’s curious to note that the upgraded Benchmark Reading system now requires children to “pass” a fiction AND non-fiction text before moving on to the next level. Previously, it was mostly fiction texts with the occasional non-fiction texts (which children would often find more difficult to “pass”).

Our library is a reflection of this trend. The picture book and Junior fiction sections are reasonably well stocked. However, the Junior non-fiction section is sadly lacking and this is not the result of children wanting to use digital formats only. It is a section that gets eagerly picked over and students are left wanting more.

Reference
Mosle, S. (2012, November 22). What Should Children Read? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/what-should-children-read/

1 Comment

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One response to “The Tension Between Fiction and Non-fiction Texts

  1. Interesting point! Although I enjoy non-fiction, I still find it harder to get through than non-fiction and think it probably makes up only a third of the books I read. It still might take up half of the time I read though. Anyway, I suspect that you’re quite right that the perception of non-fiction as harder might in part be due to the fact that we don’t learn how to read it early on.

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