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MomN

nonfiction early grades

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My first grader loves fiction and will sit for long periods of time to read with me.  We are starting to read more non-fiction as he starts first grade (think Usborne-like books about the ancients).  I'm just curious as to how long I should read these type of non-fiction books in a sitting.  He doesn't really care for them much.  I want to introduce history this year but need to find a way to incorporate these books without too much struggle.

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In general, I think that Usborne books, and books like them, are terrible.

Choose nonfiction read alouds the same way you'd choose fiction--look for a compelling "story" and excellent illustrations.  If you find that things are still a little dull, split the book up and read for short periods over several days and be sure to interject commentary and invite discussion.  

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If he doesn't like Usborne, why not find something else? There are 5 types of non-fiction, so maybe another type would do better for him!! https://www.melissa-stewart.com/img2018/pdfs/5_Kinds_of_Nonfiction_SLJ_May_2018.pdf

Melissa Stewart, whose article I linked, has a book coming out on it pretty soon and a blog with suggestions for books. So Usborne books would fit under her "browsable" books, which might explain why you're getting pushback. If he wants to read them for himself, that could be appropriate. For what you read him, there are plenty of other types.

My ds especially enjoys expository literature but he also likes traditional. I use  https://hub.lexile.com/find-a-book/search  to find books for him. Look at a few books you're reading with him now and search for the lexile level. Then use that to search for more books and narrow to what you need. We've done this for art, cultures, history, science/nature, all sorts of things, so, so fun. And usually the books are stuff your library will have, top hits.

Edited by PeterPan

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In addition to the suggestions above, you might want to introduce non-fiction with subject matter he is genuinely interested in. Science is a great way to introduce non-fiction to preschoolers and young elementary school kids.

Let's Read and Find Out science books are bound to have a book that catches his interest. The Step Into Reading non-fiction books are usually good too. My first grader is really into animals so Step Into Reading's Hungry Hungry Sharks was a huge hit with him. Step Into Reading also has some history titles like Tut's Mummy Lost and Found and Pompeii Buried Alive.

Your library should have many non-fiction titles on a variety of topics and reading levels. Right now I have a couple of young elementary level books on the Stone Age and Mesopotamia from the library and a couple of encyclopedia type books on the same topic for browsing more than straight reading. We have You Wouldn't Want To Be A Mammoth Hunter from the You Wouldn't Want to Be.... Series and that was also a non-fiction hit with my first grader.

Non-fiction doesn't have to be dry encyclopedia readings only. There are tons of non-fiction titles out there that are fun, interesting and engaging, even for young kids.

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Oh, I forgot about A Child Through History, A Street Through History and A City Through History. My son loves looking through those during our history lessons.

I also agree that Usborne can be a bit dense for wiggly first grade boys. We have the DK History Year by Year as our history encyclopedia and we just browse and talk about it, not straight read it.

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Story of the World is engaging and story-like.  We really like it on audio.

My kids also really liked David Macaulay's picture books, particulary "Castle"  (medieval), "Pyramid" (ancient Egypt), and "City" (ancient Rome) - they have and architecture and engineering focus with really detailed drawings.   Stephen Biesty's cross-section picture book series is also excellent.

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