Literacy Corner: Informational Text and Young Children
[Source: Reading Rockets]
by Timothy Shanahan
So the woman who runs my local children’s book store told me that more and more parents of young children are asking for “nonfiction beginning readers” because “that’s what Common Core wants.” Really? In kindergarten and first grade? Aren’t beginning readers supposed to develop their decoding and word recognition by reading simple stories (the ones populated by talking pigs).
I’ve seen “easy” nonfiction books that are full of difficult multisyllable words and proper names. The publishers have made the books (supposedly) appropriate for beginning readers by reducing the number of words in the sentences (until the point they are almost incomprehensible), putting fewer words on a page and enlarging the font. The result is a dumbing-down of the content.
I agree that teachers should be reading more nonfiction to young children but is the interpretation that Common Core wants young readers to be reading more nonfiction on their own correct?
The short answer is that Common Core says nothing about kids’ personal choices and how they spend their out-of-school time. The standards do set educational goals — that is, they establish what it is that schools need to ensure students know and can do. These standards require that kids have the skills to read informational text effectively (which are somewhat different than the skills needed to read literary text).
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