Nonfiction Storytime, Part 3

Through­out my last two arti­cles, I have had the plea­sure of shar­ing my insight on the use of non­fic­tion in children’s pro­gram­ming, and my selec­tion process for non­fic­tion. For my final arti­cle on non­fic­tion, I present a strat­e­gy to use non­fic­tion books to ele­vate learn­ing experiences.


Elevate Learning with Nonfiction

In my expe­ri­ence, you can ele­vate the learn­ing expe­ri­ence with non­fic­tion books through the devel­op­ment of activ­i­ties that con­nect with a spe­cif­ic top­ic or the theme of your pro­gram. Some of the activ­i­ties I’ve devel­oped using non­fic­tion books include the following:

  • Pair­ing a book on farm­ing with a vir­tu­al field trip with a local farmer.
  • Devel­op­ing a sen­so­ry table for fam­i­lies to expe­ri­ence the out­doors (dirt, leaves, twigs, and the like).
  • Tak­ing fam­i­lies on a mini hike around the park when read­ing the book, Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.
  • Con­tact­ing a state uni­ver­si­ty to bring out their bug farm and dis­cuss the world of insects
  • Invit­ing local emer­gency ser­vices to read a sto­ry and demon­strate some of their ser­vices. Pri­or to COVID, we invit­ed the fire depart­ment and they parked their fire engine out­side of the library.
  • Go to out­er space with fam­i­lies by con­tact­ing a NASA Ambas­sador and/or a NASA space cen­ter for vir­tu­al learn­ing expe­ri­ences about out­er space, plan­ets, and the like.

Activate Learning with Nonfiction

Step 1: The first step is your selec­tion of non­fic­tion books. You can select books that con­nect to the theme of your pro­gram, top­ics that are pop­u­lar with this age group, and/or books that are new to the library.

Step 2: The sec­ond step is the design of the immer­sive learn­ing expe­ri­ence. Read through the text and focus on a few facts to high­light in sto­ry­time. Read a non­fic­tion book dur­ing sto­ry­time. Look at the images and devel­op an immer­sive activity(ies). Immer­sive learn­ing should enhance the read­ers’ expe­ri­ence. You might include sounds such as ani­mals or rain, hands-on sen­so­ry activ­i­ties, vir­tu­al expe­ri­ences such as ani­mals in their nat­ur­al habi­tat, or include cul­tur­al­ly-focused activities.

Step 3:  The third step is to think about part­ner­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties. In my expe­ri­ence, reach­ing out to local part­ners ele­vates the read­ing expe­ri­ence. Spe­cif­ic to immer­sive learn­ing, some com­mu­ni­ty part­ners to con­sid­er reach­ing out to include a farmer, a gar­den club, emer­gency respon­ders, a com­mu­ni­ty learn­ing exten­sion office, a con­ser­va­tion­ist, a musi­cian, a den­tist, and a vet­eri­nar­i­an. A local part­ner can cre­ate immer­sive expe­ri­ences for fam­i­lies such as demon­strat­ing the use of musi­cal instru­ments, allow­ing nature explo­ration, explor­ing an emer­gency vehi­cle, or learn­ing about a new cul­ture. The activ­i­ties that are devel­oped by part­ners should ele­vate the non­fic­tion books you select­ed for your program.

More of Mr. Z’s top picks for nonfiction in storytime

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