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Before choosing nonfiction for children, determine the specific age group and ability level of the children who will be reading the books, magazines, essays, articles, and so on. It is also important to determine the purpose of the nonfiction for children: you will probably want to choose different materials for entertainment purposes than you would choose for educational materials designed to teach a certain skill. Think carefully about what you need from the nonfiction works as well as the interests and needs of the children who will be reading it to ensure you choose the best material.
Teachers often choose nonfiction for children that will hold the interest of the readers while still allowing for teaching strategies. Reading comprehension skills can be taught using nonfiction that is age appropriate and interesting to the reader. Some nonfiction for children will include worksheets or supplemental materials to help students improve reading comprehension skills or other types of skills aimed at synthesis and retention. Look for such materials to make lesson plan writing easier and in-class assignments simpler to design.
Nonfiction for children is writing that is based in fact; look for writing that simplifies historical or current events so the children can understand the main concepts. Simpler, age-appropriate language will help the reader grasp the major themes and concepts of the writing. Choosing writing with words and sentences a bit above the child's reading level can be useful as well, as the reader will be forced to elevate his or her skill level and do supplemental research, such as looking up terms in an encyclopedia or dictionary. This type of writing is best used when a teacher or parent is present to help guide the reader through the more difficult passages.
Look for writing that breaks up the longer narrative into smaller, easily digestible sections. Young readers will be less daunted by shorter sections, and they will be able to stop periodically to analyze concepts, gain perspective, and review the main topics covered in that brief section. Each section should feature a clear heading that gives the student a clear idea of what he or she is about to read; this helps the child mentally prepare for the topic and retain the information based on the heading.
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