So I will admit that when I was a classroom teacher, I tended to choose fiction books for class read alouds because I enjoy reading that genre more than nonfiction. When students would ask for reading suggestions, most of the time I named authors who wrote mostly fiction books (those were the authors I enjoyed reading). I saw some of my students gravitate more towards the nonfiction area in my classroom library. I started asking questions to help me understand more. Some students told me that they enjoyed finding our more about "real" things and how things worked. For some students it was easier for them to make connections to the information presented in nonfiction books. I quickly came to realize that just because I enjoyed certain things as a reader, I should not try to force those preferences on anyone else.
Recently I have been finding great information about nonfiction books and students:
- "Children should be exposed to many different formats of reading material, of which books are only one" from Nonfiction Reading in the Primary Grades: How and why it's good for young learners
- "The benefits of reading nonfiction include learning to decode such visual clues as charts, graphs, diagrams, sidebars with specialized information and even the meaning of parentheses." from Nonfiction should be on kids' summer reading lists
- "Nonfiction books are a great way to learn about a topic that you and your reading group haven't studied in depth." from Fiction of Nonfiction?
Here is a great webquest about to help students discover the differences between fiction and nonfiction: http://library.thinkquest.org/5002/Basic/ficnf.htm
Here are some publishers on Big Universe that have nice collections of nonfiction books:
Big Universe Learning has a large selection of nonfiction. You can do an advanced search and click on nonfiction to see the wide variety of options.