Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
Should students read more nonfiction in school? Teachers discuss the issue in an Ed Week forum.
As usual, the question to be asked is, what is the point, presuming we act on the answer?
For people without actual reading disabilities, reading teaches reading. You pick up vocab, facts, themes, ideas, whether it’s in fiction or non-fiction. You become a better reader.
For example, Garrett Mattingly on The Armada. Beautifully written, comprehensive, and reads like a terrific novel. Infinitely better than other books on the subject because it’s well-written. There is no reason to think it wouldn’t serve the goals of a novel, just because it’s true. Mattingly goes into the personalities of some of the major characters and, implicitly, asks what you might do in this or that situation.
Fiction or non-fiction, if it’s poorly written it will put off the kid from reading.
Absolutely, positively, enthusiastically YES!
Schools have far too long underserved and failed to promote non-fiction. Even at the lowest levels, NF is preferred by male readers. And there is much great NF out there which employs narrative and rhetorical strategies.
Few college students are reading fiction in their classes, but the rise of narrative non-fiction in college courses is a trend which high schools are greatly failing to address.
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