Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reading for the Non-Fiction Lover

When the boys first started reading, I couldn't wait for them to experience some of my favorite fiction stories. Visions of them reading Charlotte's Web until 2 am danced in my head. I just KNEW that they would especially love fiction, since that is mostly what my husband and I like to read. WRONG! Yes, they have a love of reading and will read until 2 am if they can get away with it, which is great. But, both boys would much rather read non-fiction, especially books loaded with facts about a certain topic. I am amazed when I walk into my 7-year old's room and hear, "Mom, can we ride on the trans-siberian railroad sometime? Or how about going to Europe so that we can ride on a bullet train. Did you know that the Amtrak that we went on was a passenger train? But, it was different than this passenger train in this book." I simply stare at him and think, "Wow! I can't believe how much information he is picking up in these books... and HOW did he figure out how to read 'trans-siberian' anyway?" Benjamin can tell you all about all of the different airplanes and what makes one fighter jet different from another fighter jet. He can also tell you all about all of the different rescue vehicles and what their jobs are.

However, hand Benjamin a fiction book to read and he draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaags his feet. Whereas a non-fiction book will get him enthusiastically reading, he will only read a sentence or a few words at a time in a fiction book and then stop and focus on something (anything) else. They simply don't keep his attention. I know it is important for him to read a variety of texts, so we do a "you pick one, I pick one" reading format. I am amazed at how much more motivated he is to read "nonsense" (as he calls it) when the reward is any book of his choice.

In my quest for age-appropriate, highly motivating, reading level appropriate texts, I came across Zoobooks' younger kids' magazine called Zootles. A big portion of our science this year has focused on various animals, so I figured this would give him a broader range of animals to learn about.  After seeing the samples online, I came to the conclusion that the reading level in the Zootles magazines would be independent reading for Benjamin, even though the target audience is actually a little younger. Since I want to use them for science and reading, I figured that this was the way to go. They have so far been fantastic and I am glad that I decided on Zootles instead of the classic Zoobooks.

Ben was VERY excited to get his very own mail. He was even more excited when he realized that these magazines are about animals. Today, we read the parrot Zootles together. He could read just about everything in the magazine, loved the format, and even read the poetry and fiction story in it. There is also a tear-out guide that gives more information on the animal in a more condensed form. Ben really liked that feature and wanted me to tear it out so he could easily carry it around. It took approximately 25 minutes to read the magazine together, which is PERFECT for a kid who can't and won't stay focused for longer. Overall, two thumbs up for fun and educational magazines for non-fiction loving kids.

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