School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 3. Develop knowledge of organizational structure of informational text to understand what is read

Objective a. Distinguish between fiction and nonfiction text


The teacher should select a nonfiction book and a fiction book related to the same topic. Possible paired text titles that would be appropriate for the primary classroom include: I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe & A Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Palotta; Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson & Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky; Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy McDonald & Building Beavers by Kathleen Martin-James, Owl Moon by Jane Yolan & All About Owls by Jim Arnosky; etc. The teacher would conduct an interactive read aloud of the fiction text selected. Later the same day or the following day, the teacher would display the fiction text and tell the students that they will now read a second book about the same topic. The teacher will then read the nonfiction text. The teacher will define fiction as books that tell stories that did not actually happen and nonfiction as materials that give the reader information about real events, places, people and things. Displaying both texts, the students will help the teacher categorize the two books as fiction or nonfiction text. Using the document camera, the teacher will guide an examination of the two texts and begin a class chart of characteristics that set the two types of text apart. Several pairs of text should be introduced to the class over the next few days and characteristics added to the text chart.

Fiction Text
Stories that did not actually happen
Nonfiction Text
Give information about real events, places, people & things
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson Colorful paintings
Animals talk and act like people
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky Colorful paintings
Animals are shown in their natural way
Little Beaver and the Echo By Amy McDonald Colorful paintings
Animals talk and act like people
Building Beavers By Kathleen Martin-James It tells facts about beavers
Q & A format
Diagram of a beaver
Jubal's Wish
By Audrey Wood
Starts with "Once upon…"
Animals talk and act like people
Events couldn't really happen
From Tadpole to Frog (How Things Grow)
By Jan Kottke
It tells how frogs grow from a tadpole
Table of Contents
Bold face words

After several texts have been added to the class chart, student pairs could examine several texts and sort them into fiction or nonfiction piles. Student pairs could complete an age appropriate chart explaining their thinking

Book Title/Author Fiction or Nonfiction Why?
Owl Moon by Jane Yolan Fiction It tells a made up story about things that could happen but didn't actually happen
Beautiful pictures
Welcome to the World of Owls
By Diane Swanson
Nonfiction It tells facts about owls
Table of Contents
Boxed text

Children could independently divide books in the classroom library into fiction and nonfiction shelves.


After students have become familiar with several fiction and nonfiction texts, the teacher can guide the students to make separate lists of things that authors of fiction do and things that authors of nonfiction do. Based on the samples above this information might look like the example below:/p>

Authors of Fiction might: Authors of Nonfiction might:
Write stories that might have talking animals
Write stories that didn't actually happen but could
Use colorful paintings to make the story interesting
Start the story with "Once upon…"
Tell facts about their topic
Use a question & answer format
Use colorful paintings to make the information interesting
Show animals the way they really act in nature
Use photographs
Use a diagram
Have a table of contents
Have an index
Have a glossary

The teacher could ask the students to choose if they would prefer to write fiction or nonfiction. The teacher may choose a current topic from the content and ask students to write a simple 6-8 page book of either fiction or nonfiction based on the assigned topic, incorporating some of the characteristics from the charts above. Have students share their books with the class and add them to the classroom library.


During small group reading lessons have students identify whether a text is fiction or nonfiction during the prereading routine. Ask students what they might expect to find inside the text based on their knowledge of the two types of text. Response should include content and text features. Assist students in setting a purpose for reading with the type of text in mind.


Once students can recognize the difference between fiction and nonfiction, introduce them to the idea that fiction text is always read from beginning to end but nonfiction text may be read from beginning to end or just certain parts may be read. For example, you could refer back to the fiction book Owl Moon by Jane Yolan. In order for this story to make sense you must start at the beginning and read through to the end. If you read the pages out of order the story wouldn't make sense. Display the book Welcome to the World of Owls by Diane Swanson. Point out that this book has a table of contents and an index to help the reader locate specific parts of the book. If the readers have specific questions they only need to read the parts that may work. For example, refer back to the text Welcome to the World of Owls. Tell the students to suppose that you only wanted to find out how much owls weigh. Using the table of contents, review the chapter titles to see if you could tell which part of the book might tell the reader this information. Because the chapter titles are vague, explain to the students that a reader can check the index for more precise location. The index says that weight is discussed on page 3. Turn in the book to page 3 to see if the information is helpful. Repeat this with age. In this case we have our information without reading the whole book. However, tell students that not all nonfiction has those text features. Display the text All About Owls by Jim Arnosky. This is nonfiction text but does not have organizational features. In this case early readers would read this book about owls from beginning to end and then reread to locate answers to specific questions. Another type of nonfiction that is read from beginning to end is narrative nonfiction. Often writers of nonfiction use this style to hook early readers into reading nonfiction by incorporating a beginning, middle, and end story structure that is familiar to the readers and keep the language conversational rather than factual tone. A good book to introduce this to your class would be The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins. This book is available in big book format. In this book the author tells us about the 2 month sitting period of the male emperor penguins. Children of this age are familiar with the movie "The March of the Penguins" which can provide prior knowledge for the facts presented in the text.