Fiction or Nonfiction?
Actually, it’s not a competition!
Recently, an article in Teacher Magazine presented this headline: “Boys Prefer Nonfiction? Challenging the Myth.” The article focuses on an Australian study that looked at what kinds of books kids liked to read for pleasure, and found that:
“More than half of the boys (58 per cent), said they liked fiction or story books ‘a lot’, with 51 per cent enjoying non-fiction and 43 per cent enjoying comics/magazines ‘a lot’; for girls, the figures were 67 per cent, 55 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively.”
Any study that looks at reading habits of young people in an effort to help educators and families better support kids is a good thing, but framing the results in a way that makes it seem like fiction and nonfiction need to compete for the attention of young brains feels counterproductive. (And can we also take a moment to recognize the very gendered nature of that headline?)
Maybe the headline should be: “Kids Like to Read Lots of Different Kinds of Books!” Or maybe: “Make All Kinds of Books Available to Young People and Let Them Pick!”
We are living in something of a golden age for children’s nonfiction books, and it’s a joy to see books being published that are engaging, enlightening, and exciting, exactly what kids (of all genders) need to help them learn. Writers and educators recognize that there are several different kinds of nonfiction books that appeal to different kinds of readers. Some young people like expository nonfiction that offers a book full of facts and figures that’s great for browsing. Others like narrative nonfiction, which tells a nonfiction story using much of the same techniques as a novel. And of course, many kids like to mix it up between fiction and nonfiction.
The critical and creative thinking skills that are born from reading are crucial for kids who are facing a future filled with some very real environmental, societal, economic, and political problems. And the empathy they gain from reading books is important, too.
It takes all kinds of books to satisfy a reader, and all kinds of learning to contribute to the well-being of the world.
Check out some fantastic nonfiction that gets kids excited about learning! Hands-on activities go hand-in-hand with engaged reading!