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Balancing Fiction and Nonfiction using Perspective Through Picture Books and Background Builders

By Naomi O'Brien


If you’re anything like us, it can feel like a struggle to make sure you are getting your students enough nonfiction text. Fiction is SO much fun and there are so many great titles that we just want to share with our kids.

One year, in our 3rd year of teaching, the concept of spending two weeks in fiction followed by two weeks in nonfiction and repeating that pattern for the year was introduced.

We’ll be honest- We didn’t think it was going to work. We didn’t think the students would be engaged or interested with that pattern.

We were wrong!

They loved it! Nonfiction texts are a fantastic way for students to learn about the world. Background knowledge is needed in order for students to make connection and understand information. Nonfiction texts help students build background knowledge.

So we decided to stick with this pattern and we created two lines of resources that would help us:

  1. Teach the standards
  2. Teach students how to access the content.

We created Perspective Through Picture Books and Background Builders.

During whole group read aloud, we decided that we never wanted to read our students books or teach lessons that they could likely figure out without us. We make sure that all of the texts we choose are 1-2 grade level above the students we are teaching.

We teach them how to comprehend the texts. It would be a wasted of time (in our opinions) to teach with a text they can already comprehend.

We do this so that when they are reading a text on their own, they can go back to the lessons they learned during whole group and apply them to the text

These lessons are perfect for K/1 students. There standards are so closely aligned that our K kids did amazing with these units!

So, here’s an example of what a month would look like in our classroom:

Because both resources align with the standards and teach everything single standard, we feel very accomplished at the end of a month thinking about all of the exposure and students got with various skills.

During read aloud time we just project the lessons and let the learning begin!

Here is a sample day from Background Builders:

Students are exposed to nonfiction information that builds background knowledge, standards, text features, vocabulary, and standards based comprehension questions. It makes our teacher hearts happy!

The same thing goes for Perspective Through Picture Books. Here’s a sample day from that resource:

The standards for each day are listed, and the lessons are crafted in a way that teaches students how to think critically about the text.

We have created a Create Your Own Bundle that allows educators to pair 5 PTPB lessons and 5 Background Builders Lessons.

These units are also available for individual purchase as well! Click on the image above!

We hope this helps your year run a lot smoother and is an easy way for you to balance fiction and nonfiction lessons in your classroom!



Hi, I'm Naomi

I have been teaching elementary students for over 10 years. Effective reading instruction and accurate social studies at the primary level are huge passions of mine! 

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