Reading nonfiction, also called informational books, with your child is a fantastic way to help your child explore the world. Research shows that informational books can be enjoyable and also help children build
- a child's vocabulary
- their background knowledge
- their understanding of different kinds of syntax
- and more!
The additional knowledge and vocabulary they gain will help them be successful in school and reading later on.
Informational books are interesting, too! Some kids prefer to read about real things. After being scolded by one very stern 4-year-old that she wanted books about REAL dinosaurs, not pretend ones, I have learned to always check whether kids want books about real or pretend bears or crocodiles or wombats.
As you read informational books together, make connections between the text and your experiences. This could mean you read about a historical person before you visit a museum, or about an animal you spotted in your backyard. Some more ways you can connect the text to your world can be found below.
- Read books about real things your baby can experience in their everyday life. For example, you and your baby could read a book about fruit. Then, you both could touch and taste a real apple, orange, or banana from the pantry.
- Read books featuring racially diverse baby faces and talk about how babies look alike and different in positive ways. It’s important to talk with your children about the racial diversity they’ll see in the world from a young age.
- Read a little bit at a time, letting your child’s interest guide how much you read. Don’t feel like you need to read every page and caption. Informational texts are often easier than fictional stories to pause and restart as your child loses or gains interest.
- Incorporate movement into your reading. For example, if you are reading about construction trucks, you could say, “We just learned how a backhoe digs up dirt to make room for the building site. Can you pretend to dig like a backhoe?”
- Let your child tell you what they’re interested in, and support their learning! If they want to learn all about tigers, check out as many informational books about tigers as you can. Reading these books will build both their vocabulary and background knowledge about the subject.
- Look at the book itself and talk about how it is organized. For example, does it have a glossary or an index? Show your child how to use these tools in this and any other informational book they read.
-Kelly, Children’s Librarian, Joel D. Valdez Main Library
Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!
Reading helps children understand how text works and positions them to increase their language and literacy skills throughout their lives.
Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.