In my opinion, it’s never too early to introduce informational texts into our children’s lives. If you think about it, when your child was a baby, you probably read aloud concept books (types of animals, colors, shapes, numbers, letters, etc.). That was your child’s first introduction to informational texts. But, as your child becomes preschool age, you may want to consider introducing more complex informational text and even begin introducing a few text features.
I began by asking my three year old if she would like to learn more about frogs and showed her Time For Kids: Frogs! I like to use this line of informational books because they are written at a level for a first or second grader to read independently, which make perfect read alouds for your younger children. We looked at the cover and she pointed out that it was a red eyed tree frog. I explained that we were going to read a book that is informational. Then I asked her if she knew what that meant. She said no, so I explained that an informational book is one that gives us true information. Then I opened to the Table of Contents and explained to her what that was. I said, “A table of contents is helpful when we read informational books because it can tell us where to look if we want to read about a specific topic.” I read the “chapters” aloud to her and asked her which one she wanted to learn more about. She decided on “Chapter 4: Are Frogs in Trouble?” We looked at the page number and she told me which page to turn to. The chapter was only three pages long. I read it aloud and asked her questions about the information on each page. Specifically we discussed vocabulary, because there was a lot of vocabulary in those three short pages (poisonous, camouflage, habitats, and extinction). We talked about what each word meant. We then looked at the back of the book and noticed a glossary (Words to Know). We were able to find two of the vocabulary words back there with definitions which confirmed the definitions I gave her.
This whole experience took a quick fifteen minutes and I was able to sneak some learning in with our reading. I don’t expect that my preschooler picked up on a whole lot of the learning points I was making, but this was the first time we read an informational book with the specific purpose of looking for text features (though she didn’t know that!). I think as we begin to read more informational books with this purpose in mind, she will quickly pick up on and be able to tell me about specific text features.
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