The beginning of the school year often begins with a discussion of the broad genres of fiction and nonfiction. In hopes to be a better nonfiction teacher I have finally started reading this text.
Did you know…
- that all writing was nonfiction at the beginning of time?
- the genre of fiction was not found in print until the 1400s and was defined as “an invention of the mind.”
- it wasn’t until 1909 that the genre nonfiction was created to classify any book as being “not fiction.”
- teachers in grades 1-12 were asked how they define the word nonfiction and most said “informational texts.”
- nonfiction often requires MORE background knowledge than reading fiction does.
Here is the best quote from the beginning of this text:
- We wouldn’t argue with telling students that nonfiction texts offer information. But when we tell students that nonfiction means true, then we have created a potential conflict for them because there is a great deal that is classified as nonfiction that happens to be inaccurate, untrue, and occasionally even deceitful. p. 16
Here are some warnings about telling students nonfiction means TRUE:
- we excuse them from the task of deciding if the text is accurate, free of biases, or contradicts their thinking.
- we imply that their job is simply to learn and absorb the information in the text.
- The author is not offering the TRUTH, but one vision of the truth.
So, reading nonfiction is about challenge and change! Readers must:
- question the text
- question the author
- question their understanding
- possibly change their views
The authors recommend this definition of nonfiction:
Nonfiction is the body of work in which the author purports to tell us about the real world, a real experience, a real person, an idea, or a belief. p. 21
What is your definition of nonfiction? Are you willing to change it?