Books to Teach Nonfiction Text Features

December 31, 2016

I love teaching nonfiction to my students. My students LOVE to learn all about animals, space, nature, etc. It is real and attainable to them and they just seem to seek that knowledge on their own.
I like to let my students know that with nonfiction they know what they’re in for. If they want to learn about a topic, they can go and grab a nonfiction book, pick it up, and learn! With fiction we often don’t know where the story is headed with its twists and turns along the way. Nonfiction gives us that knowledge right at our fingertips!


I wanted to share some of my favorite books for modeling nonfiction text features and how I use them.
I generally teach nonfiction text features to my first graders in the month of January.


Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop:
I use this book to teach all about the use of photographs in nonfiction texts. This book has big, beautiful photos which really help show the similarities and difference between butterflies and moths. My students get really excited to see these creepy crawly bugs up close and personal. I also like to emphasize how the photograph can give us information that may not be in the text (just like the illustration often does the same in a fiction book).


Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons:
I love Gail Gibbons for nonfiction – her units are jam packed with information and nonfiction text features to explore with your students. This book, in particular, I like to use to highlight labels and captions in nonfiction texts. As we walk through the book, I point out different places Gail Gibbons used text other than in the main area.


Martin Luther King Jr. (National Geographic for Kids):
I use this book about MLK Jr. to show students a biography. As we read this biography, I teach all about the table of contents and the headings. I find this book provides great discussion around why the authors might choose the headings of different sections of the text. I like to have my students brainstorm different headings for those sections after we have read them.


Frogs by Gail Gibbons:
Another classic by Gail Gibbons! After highlighting the nonfiction text features above, I like to review them by using this book and also introduce, the diagram. There is a big, clear diagram in this text that I use to model this feature. My students and I like to discuss the importance of a diagram and why some information is better shared through a diagram than just a paragraph of writing. I generally like to use this book as my example when I am teaching my students how to write nonfiction books as well.


Sharks! by Sally Morgan:
I use this photograph-filled nonfiction text to highlight bold print words, a glossary, and an index. First, I like to model exactly how to use an index and we make note that many of our words in bold can also appear in the glossary for further explanation. I also point out the way a glossary and an index are organized and how that may help the reader.


Pierre the Penguin by Jean Marzollo:
This text is a favorite of mine and I use it to explain that there are different types of nonfiction texts. This story has almost none of the typical nonfiction text features I just mentioned in the above books, so it’s a great twist and makes students really think about the definition of nonfiction and if this story fits the bill. Pierre the Penguin is a true story with a main character who has a problem and solution! It is great to compare and contrast this text with other fiction stories you have read.


You can find all of the above books here:

I have also made read aloud lessons and response sheets for ALL the above books and more that you can find by clicking the image below if you are interested:

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These are some of my favorite read alouds to use when teaching nonfiction in a primary classroom! We go through the nonfiction text features and explore different types of nonfiction like narrative nonfiction and biographies. Head on over to the post to read about how I use each book!

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