Children often have difficulty determining genre and purpose – is the book they select from the library shelf a narrative story? Is it an informative/expository nonfiction text? How can you tell? The following lesson for primary grades is one that you can adapt to whatever curriculum based topics or thematic units you may already be teaching. The lesson that follows (you can download it) involves collecting two books on the same topic – eggs – except one is narrative (Dora’s Eggs) and the other expository (Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones). You can set the stage by defining narrative writing as a story with a character who has a problem or an adventure. Expository texts can be defined as pieces written to provide the reader with information – to teach them something about a topic. What’s interesting is this – as children learn to recognize the characteristics of genre, they begin to read more successfully. Ooh, they might think, there’s the main character! Ooh – there’s the problem! I wonder how the character will solve that problem? Their critical thinking and ability to make predictions and draw inferences increases dramatically. This kind of thinking is also a rehearsal for their own eventual writing. This establishes the reading/writing connection early on, and with a few brushstrokes of guidance from the teacher prior to reading, every reading experience becomes a pre-writing experience.
We’ve chosen two books about eggs, but you could as easily substitute a narrative and expository book on any topic of your choice and proceed in the same way. This particular lesson also includes having children experiment with the use of suspense – just for a little added challenge! Download the lesson and enjoy!
By Julie Sykes
Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones
By Ruth Heller