Why non-fiction is important for reading development

Roderick Hunt MBE, co-creator of Oxford Reading Tree, asks ‘Why is non-fiction important for reading development?’

Why is it important to widen children’s early reading experience into reading non-fiction and information books? It is because the literate, print-bound world for which children are being educated requires the ability to process information and master the many formats in which information is presented.

Non-fiction is ubiquitous. The digital world, in which children are growing up, is rich in texts that inform and instruct. Learning to read with factual books as well as storybooks is a way of preparing them for life.

Children love facts and information, and while it is vital to teach children to read, it is even more important to help them explore a range of genres for themselves. In this way, children can experience for themselves what reading can do, and realise how it can open the doors of discovery. There’s an old fashioned phrase for it – ‘finding out’!

When children discover facts and acquire information through text and illustration, they begin to read to learn. Through this process, their curiosity will be heightened, and their store of knowledge and vocabulary increased. In short, their reading will be for a purpose and their intellectual development will be enhanced.

As Dr Seuss wrote, ‘The more that you read, the more things you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.

About the Explore with Biff, Chip and Kipper series

Beast Feasts

Series created by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta

Oxford Reading Tree’s Explore with Biff, Chip and Kipper is a series of paired fiction and non-fiction books linked by curriculum-related topics that children will be learning about in the classroom. Each pair consists of an engaging story featuring well-loved characters and a compelling non-fiction book. These topic-linked pairings encourage children to read and relish both text types from an early age, develop and deepen their reading comprehension and foster a love of reading. Carefully levelled, each book also contains inside cover notes to help parents read and explore the content with their child.

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Page spread from Explore with Biff, Chip and Kipper: Beast Feasts, Level 5

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