Introducing non-fiction to children

In our modern world, sources of information assail us from every direction. An internet search turns up dozens, and sometimes even hundreds, of links to information on every conceivable topic. Television provides documentaries on historical events, scientific topics and numerous programmes that cover every aspect of nature. A visit to a grocery store exposes children to newspapers and magazines which share articles on a wide variety of political, social and other topics, not to mention the headlines of newspapers that glare at us from street light and other poles as we travel from home to school and other places during our day.

High school learners are provided with numerous texts and sources of additional information on each and every topic they cover in nearly all of their subjects.

The quantities of information available are huge and not all of it is factually accurate. There is a lot of inaccurate and even total fake information out there.

It is, therefore, vital for children to learn to filter text and identify the important facts and information, in other words, to summarise it. It is also important for children to know they should check information to more than one source in order to ensure it is factually accurate.

Providing children with non-fiction books is an excellent way of ensuring they get accurate and reliable information and, if you select good non-fiction books, they are also appealing and exciting for children.

Here are four tips for choosing non-fiction books:

  1. Books with large clear photographs are attractive to children and help them contextualize the content of the book;
  2. Look for books that present the facts succinctly and without becoming bogged down in to much unnecessary detail. After reading the content to or with your child, summarise the main message/s about that topic or on a particular page;
  3. For very young children, ensure that the content is simple and fairly repetitive with only a few new vocabulary items so as not to overwhelm them; and
  4. Look for books that provide additional information for adults at the back. This is helpful for expanding on a given topic with your child and answering any questions.

A few great ways of encouraging an interest in non-fiction reading by children are as follows:

  1. When you are doing something that provokes questions like why is the sky blue or why do bees sting, take the time to look up the answer to this question with your child and show them how to use internet sources and books to find the answers to their questions;
  2. Integrate non-fiction with play. I did this with my children by showing them how to read recipes when we were baking, using ideas from books when building and constructing with lego or blocks and even with marshmallows and reading to them about mountains, hills, lakes and rivers when we were playing in a sandpit or on the beach. We used sand for lots of fun activities like building forts and a pirate island. I used these opportunities to follow up with a non-fiction story about pirates and soldiers. I did the same thing when we visited any places that lent themselves to learning more about a specific topic like mining or farming; and
  3. Make your own non-fiction materials and demonstrate various learning points. I build a mountain out of paper mache and showed my children how water carries seeds down into the valleys, Michael and I made a sword and a roman helmet out of paper mache and learned about the Roman Empire and we made a sheep out of cardboard and cotton wool and learned how animals help to distribute seeds.
An airplane Greg and I built in the sand at the beach
Gregory learning about prehistoric mining at Grime’s Graves in Norfolk, England

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  3. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  4. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books



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Are there benefits to singing and rhyming verse for children?

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

Growing Bookworms

I love nursery rhymes and children’s poetry. When my boys were younger we used to listen to children’s songs and nursery rhymes in the car wherever we went. We used to sing along and I even bought them bells and shakers so that they could join in the music making.

One of Gregory’s favourite nursery rhymes was Aiken Drum, a popular Scottish folk song and nursery rhyme. It is believed to have its origins in a Jacobite song about the Battle of Sherifmuir (1715).  You can listen to a version of it here:

I find nursery rhymes very fascinating, particularly when I probe the origins of some of them. Ring a ring o’ Roses, for example, is alleged to have originated from the black plague. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague and posies of herbs were carried by people as protection and to cover up the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a symptom once the disease had progressed and then the sick person usually died and so literally “fell down” dead.

I have often wondered, however, whether there are any specific and acknowledged benefits to be derived by small children from listening to nursery rhymes and being read to in rhyming verse. If I think of Dr Seuss books, they are all in rhyming verse and they are always punted as being a really good choice of early readers.

I decided a little bit of investigation was in order, especially, as my own books, co-authored with Michael, are written in rhyming verse. The experts listed the following benefits to singing nursery rhymes to your children and reading to them in rhyming verse:

  • Children love the sound of their parents voices, so singing by a caregiver calms and sooths a small child;
  • Children enjoy the changes and variation in tone that result from singing and reading in rhyming verse. This helps inspire a love of language in children, thereby naturally increasing their desire to read and write;
  • Rhymes help children learn to identify the different sounds that make up a word, how to play with words, change them and pair them together which greatly aids learning how to read;
  • When reading in rhyming verse, most readers tend to speak clearly and slowly. This is beneficial to children as they are able to hear the way the words are formed properly;
  • Songs and rhymes have a positive impact on children’s language and literacy development;
  • Children that participate in singing and telling of nursery rhymes often learn to speak more quickly;
  • Rhyming teaches children about word families;
  • Rhyming teaches children the patterns and structures in spoken and written language;
  • Rhyming helps children learn how to spell as they realise the words that sound similar often share common letter sequences;
  • The repetition of rhymes helps build memory capabilities;
  • Nursery rhymes or other rhyming stories and tales help preserve your culture and create a bond between generations; children, parents and grandparents; and
  • Nursery rhymes and rhyming verse help children to hear a steady beat which researchers believe results in better reading skills.

I thought this was rather an impressive list of benefits and nursery rhymes and stories told in rhyming verse are such fun. So dust off your old nursery rhyme books and grab your Dr Seuss and other rhyming verse books and get going.

Happy reading and singing!

Just as an aside, Puff the magic Dragon is one of the nicest rhyming verse story books I’ve ever read.

 

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.