— by Carol L. Malnor, author of the weekly blog, Common Core: Making the Connection
Educational reforms like Common Core State Standards (CCSS) come and go. I began teaching in 1974, so I’ve seen a lot of them! And while educators and parents can debate the merits and faults of Common Core, these standards have been adopted by 46 states. They are here to stay—at least for a while.
Most teachers will need to make some changes about how and what they teach to meet the new standards, but “good teaching is good teaching” no matter what the standards may be.
An essential “best practice” for good teaching is reading aloud every day. Researchers have found that reading aloud has a myriad of benefits. Here are a few of them:
- Improves reading skills and overall academic achievement.
- Helps struggling readers experience the wonder and magic of books
- Fine-tunes listening skills.
- Build students’ background knowledge and vocabulary.
Picture books have added advantages as they create excitement about reading, introduce children to a wide variety of art, inspire creativity, and serve as models for children’s writing. They also meet English and Language Arts (ELA) requirements for Common Core State Standards, which call for students to pay close attention to words and illustrations and to learn to identify characters, setting, and plot.
What picture books should you read aloud? We at Dawn Publications suggest reading Creative Nonfiction picture books—a genre that’s also known as Literary Nonfiction, and Narrative Nonfiction.
Creative Nonfiction makes facts compelling either by creating a storyline or using some literary technique. Creative Nonfiction has been described as “dressing facts in fiction” and “true stories well told.” It uses the literary tools of the fiction writer and the careful research of the nonfiction writer. Both are equally important!
“Good creative nonfiction helps kids learn to think by engaging their curiosity . . . An engaged reader retains information and often goes on to seek more. Creative nonfiction is of great use with reluctant and challenged readers, who may find their interest piqued, making the work of reading more rewarding than usual. Finally, storytelling techniques can bring to life a subject’s significance in a way that just-the-facts writing can’t always do…”
—Shannon Barefield, Senior Editor at Lerner Publishing Group
Not only does Creative Nonfiction support goals in Common Core, it also meets Next Generation Science standards! Picture Perfect authors Emily Morgan and Karen Ansberry cite research that states, “Books with interesting storylines help students understand and remember concepts better than they would by using textbooks alone.” Research also shows that using children’s literature in the science program indicated gains in science as well as literacy.
Creative Nonfiction picture books can ignite an interest in a science topic that subsequently leads students to read informational text to find out more, and reading information text is a major emphasis of Common Core.
Most of Dawn Publications’ titles are Creative Nonfiction. Our goal is to capture the attention and awaken enthusiasm for nature in children. With engaging text and magical art, our books are designed to direct children’s attention to the marvelous real world around them. We want to engage their curiosity and set children on a lifelong learning adventure.
My weekly blog, Common Core: Making the Connection, features a picture book that aligns with both Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. The books also further Dawn Publications’ mission to help children bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation.
Think of a 3-legged stool.
- One leg of the stool is Common Core standards—helping a child learn through reading.
- The second leg is Next Generation Science standards—helping a child understand and explore the world.
- The third leg is a picture book—helping a child to learn new information about the world and be inspired by creative words and beautiful images. A book that reaches children’s hearts as well as their minds.
I hope to make teachers’ lives a little easier by providing suggestions and lessons that can be easily implemented in the classroom—ways to engage students and inspire them to connect with nature.