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Building Literacy through Diverse Texts

When it comes to helping your child build his understanding of literature and language, the type of reading material you share with him or her matters. In order to develop early literacy, he or she needs exposure to different categories of books. 

While many parents and educators tend to focus on reading fiction books with their young children, these books are not sufficient for helping your child reach his fullest potential for reading, writing, and organization. Children need informational texts, like books about social science, humanities, and natural science, to develop their critical thinking skills, reading comprehension, and other early literacy skills.

The benefits of reading informational texts: increased vocabulary and comprehension skills

While children need to read works of fiction, it is equally valuable for children to work with informational texts as well. Informational texts differ from traditional literature and some works of non-fiction because they do not involve characters, and they primarily exist to give readers information about the natural and social world in which they live.

Young children should read informational texts within the reading categories social science and natural science as they require children to activate different reading strategies and skillsets that help them to increase vocabulary and become better readers and critical thinkers.

Here are some ways in which informational texts can help your child:

Informational texts promote higher-order thinking

Because informational texts can be challenging and often require scaffolding, they typically encourage children to practice higher-order thinking. Strategic scaffolding means that instead of using rote memorization, your child will have to incorporate critical thinking, organize information to make connections, build on prior knowledge, and apply this knowledge in new and unfamiliar ways.

Higher-order thinking is essential for developing problem-solving skills and cognitive thinking skills. If you want to help your child improve her higher-order thinking skills, you should enhance her genre-focused reading to include more informational text.  The Intellectual Bookshop is the go-to-source when making selections at any stage of learning. The reading categories social science, humanities, and natural science might assist.

Informational texts increase literacy development

Research shows that exposing children to informational texts from an early age can significantly improve their literacy development. 

Reading informational texts helps children practice strategies that improve their close-reading skills, which is integral to developing their reading comprehension. Because informational texts usually focus on a central idea and supporting details, children learn to use close-reading to comprehend the text. Close reading allows them to become familiar with the key characteristics and features of informational texts, synthesizing information, organizing information in order of importance, and summarizing. These skills are essential for your child’s growth as a reader and a learner.

Informational texts also provide children with new, content-specific vocabulary. A strong vocabulary is a reliable indicator of future academic success, and it is an essential part of a child’s literacy development.

Informational texts that provide graphs, tables, charts, and similar devices help children develop visual literacy. Learning how to read these devices will teach children how to categorize and process information and to think critically about the information when presented within both academic and real-world settings.

You can find books organized by genre to build vocabulary and comprehension at The Intellectual BookShop. Make your selection by learning stage to help improve your child’s literacy development at The Intellectual Child.

Informational texts boost student motivation

Exposure to informational texts can also help boost your child’s intrinsic reading motivation. When children can read about real-world topics that they find interesting, they will develop an interest in reading that will take them far in life. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland found that students who have the opportunity to read informational texts of interest have higher levels of intrinsic reading motivation than those who do not spend time with books in this reading category.

Informational texts increase general knowledge

In addition to the literacy and organization skills that come from reading informational books, these texts also teach children important information that helps them build background knowledge and translates to other areas that they will need in the future. 

Non-fiction texts help children gain critical content knowledge because it provides them with new information and facts that they can build on in the future. There is an abundance of research that shows that background knowledge helps readers understand subsequent texts and improves their reading comprehension. Informational texts are essential because they can help your child establish a general understanding that they can use to become better readers.

 

Informational texts preparing your child for future academic success

Although your child may not encounter a lot of non-fiction when they are young, they will need to know how to read and understand non-fiction as they move on in their academic career and into adulthood. Many of the books, articles, and other reading material that your child will need when they get older will fall into the category of non-fiction and informational texts. Early exposure to informational texts helps prepare children for future academic success by teaching them how to read and understand non-fiction so they can have a solid foundation to build upon as they grow older.

Informational texts also help children to become stronger readers. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that fourth-graders who read diverse books, including fiction and informational texts, have higher reading achievement than students who only read one type of text. Parents who want their children to be successful as they go through elementary school and beyond should make sure they are reading informational books in addition to works of fiction.

Informational texts introduce your child to different genres

Adding different genres to your home or school library will significantly improve her ability to process and organize information. Literary genres are different reading categories comprised of books that share specific characteristics. When children learn the aspects of different genre-types, they are better able to comprehend similar books that fall into the same category in the future, even if the information presented in these books are unfamiliar. Building background knowledge through genre-study will boost their reading comprehension and help them become active readers that can make connections between different academic subjects and across text-types.

Informational texts are typically divided into a few text categories known as literary non-fiction, expository texts, argument or persuasion texts, and procedural texts.

Literary non-fiction includes essays, speeches, memoirs, biographies, and similar texts. Expository texts, like articles about a particular subject or concept, tend to include navigational tools like a table of contents so that readers can quickly find answers to questions or specific, detailed information about a particular topic. 

Argument or persuasive text is a form of writing meant to convince the reader to act in a certain way. These texts usually include claims, evidence, and warrant to make persuasive arguments. Procedural books are how-to texts that show readers how to complete a specific task or project.

It is exposing young intellectuals to different genres and types of books that fall into each of these categories.

Here are three genres that support these categories:

Social science

The Common Core State Standards Initiative recognizes the importance of incorporating primary and secondary texts into a child’s education. Books, articles, and documents in this category of informational texts teach students how to find trustworthy sources and evidence to back up claims. Often social science reading material falls into the categories of literary non-fiction or argument or persuasion texts.

These texts require specific strategies that children will need for future success: understanding and using context to process information and find solutions, finding the central idea or argument that an author presents in a text, and looking for supporting details and evidence. When children work with readings from this genre, they will also have the opportunity to use visual tools like timelines, concept maps, and outlines that will help them learn to organize information for better retention and deeper understanding.

Humanities

Books in this category study and support the different aspects of humankind, culture, and society. These books can include topics about religion, race, language, politics, philosophy, and other concepts that relate to the human experience. Most texts in this genre are a part of the literary non-fiction category of informational texts.

Books and learning materials about the humanities are valuable because they have practical application in real-world scenarios. Children who read informational texts of this genre are typically better able to gather and abstract information, connect this information to other different subjects or experiences and apply it to their understanding of society and culture and in their daily interactions with others.

Natural science

Natural science books are expository texts that give information about a variety of different subjects or topics. Children who read these books will have far more background knowledge about a host of different academic subjects than children who only read fictional or narrative texts. Reading natural science books is a great way for children to increase their vocabulary, develop their schemas, and find topics that hold their interest and encourage future learning.

These texts are also important because they often use visual tools that can help children learn to organize information. Learning to analyze tables, charts, and graphs that are frequently associated with books and reading materials in this genre is an essential skill that will help children learn to organize and abstract information.

These categories are relevant because each of them provides unique opportunities for children to improve their reading and visual literacy, their understanding of literature, and their language skills.

Incorporating informational texts

The average public-school elementary classroom only spends an average of 3.6 minutes per day with informational texts. This abbreviated time on task is is not nearly enough time for your child to gain the skills that these informational texts have to offer. You can make up for the lack of time spent in this area of early literacy by supplementing your child’s reading with books from The Intellectual Bookshop.

To reap the benefits that informational texts in these categories have to offer, you should incorporate more books about social science, humanities, and natural science into your child’s daily reading time. However, this increase in informational texts should not come at the expense of works of fiction.

To promote literacy and academic growth, you must expose your child to book fiction and non-fiction reading material. The Common Core State Standards Initiative recommends a 60/40 split, in favor of literature, to help create more of a much-needed balance between fiction and informational texts. From the more balanced division, children gain an opportunity to learn from and enjoy reading fictional books without neglecting all the skills that come from informational texts.

The Intellectual Child can help you maintain this balance while offering your child the opportunity to read more informational texts. 

Try using TheIntellectual Bookshop to help develop your child’s understanding of different reading categories like prose, social science, humanities, and natural science. Expanding reading categories invites a full selection of genre-types that will help young intellectuals improve their critical close reading skills. From these essential selections of books, they will gain invaluable background knowledge and learn new strategies for literacy development while keeping with the recommended 60/40 split.

Learning to balance the book types and reading categories will help your child make the most of their fictional and informational texts as they begin helping them learn to organize and analyze their thoughts when reading books from any genre.

Choosing The Intellectual BookShop

The Intellectual BookShop has the reading materials you need to help your child succeed academically. No matter the stage of learning--baby, toddler or child, our website will help you navigate books by genre-type books.

The Intellectual Child understands that sometimes your child’s school is not able to provide all of the tools she needs for success, especially when it comes to informational texts. With tools from The Intellectual Child, you can ensure that your child is on the right track academically. Find out more about how The Intellectual Child can assist you and your child when you visit our website.

 

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The Intellectual BookShop is an independent educational publisher and resource company committed to providing simple learning solutions for use at home or school.

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