Musings from week 3: Fiction or Nonfiction – Should the readers decide?

There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” – Frank Serafini

Growing up, I remember reading a large number of fiction books compared with nonfiction. I loved the feeling of getting lost in a story and still to this day can indulge in this type of activity for many, many hours at a time. My single memory of actively choosing to read a nonfiction book resulted in me borrowing and re-borrowing the same book for a whole term. I remember it being a book about ponies and I loved it. Shortly after reading that book, I successfully managed my convince my parents to buy me one of my own.

As a student, nonfiction reading was non-negotiable for the purpose of school, however everything else I read was fiction. This trend continued as I worked through my teaching degree and into fully fledged adulthood. Not surprisingly, my love of fiction has been passed onto my children, who are showing a clear preference for the fiction genre. But should they be reading fiction almost exclusively just because that’s where their interest lies or do they need to be reading non-fiction just as often?

The students at my current school are blessed with a well-resourced library that has a wonderful collection of both fiction and non-fiction books, although I would argue that the collection is not as well balanced in the early years, with a far greater number of fiction books compared to junior nonfiction. Library lessons run by our teacher librarian toggle weekly between discussing fiction and nonfiction books. To promote exposure to both genres, students are required to borrow books from both fiction and nonfiction, although whether or not they are read at home becomes the choice of the student.

I have always been firmly in the camp of encouraging students to read for enjoyment. During leisure reading time, children should be able to read what interests them if they are going to develop a love of reading. Self-directed and inquisitive children are more than likely going to lean towards nonfiction as they search for new knowledge and information while other students use fiction books as a means to escape. Naturally as teachers, it is our responsibility to teach students how to read and comprehend both fiction and nonfiction and to teach them that there is value in, and a purpose for both.



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