◆The fact that you have this book in your hands means you may already believe that
informational text should be included in primary classrooms. Perhaps you have had
professional or personal experiences that have led you to that belief. Perhaps you have
thought of some potential benefits informational text may hold for young learners. We hope this
chapter helps bring together much of what you have been thinking. It is designed to extend your
thinking and provide access to research and theories that support it.
What’s the Difference Between
Informational Text and
Often the terms “informational text” and “nonfiction” are used interchangeably. In our view,
however, they are ...view middle of the document...
It is important to talk about the different types or genres of nonfiction not only because they
have different purposes, but because they have different features to achieve those purposes. For
example, biographies typically focus on a single individual and specific points in time. In contrast,
informational texts, as we
define them, talk about whole
classes of things and in a timeless
way (for example, “Sharks live in
water.”); they therefore have a
generalizing quality. Other common
features of informational
texts include presentation and
repetition of a topic or theme;
descriptions of attributes and
characteristic events; comparative/contrastive
structures; technical vocabulary;
realistic illustrations or photographs;
labels and captions; navigational
aids such as indexes,
page numbers, and headings;
and various graphical devices
such as diagrams, tables, and
charts. Many of these are not
found in other types of nonfiction.
(See Chapter 6 for more
Chapter 1: Why Include Informational Text in the Primary Classroom? 17
By our definition, informational text is:
◆ text whose primary purpose is to convey
information about the natural and social
◆ text that typically has characteristic features
such as addressing whole classes of things in
a timeless way.
◆ text that comes in many different formats,
including books, magazines, handouts,
brochures, CD-ROMs, and the Internet.
Informational text is not:
◆ text whose primary purpose is something
other than to convey information about the
natural and social world, such as telling about
an individual's life, an event or series of
events, or how to do something.
◆ text that always has particular features;
instead, features vary by text.
◆ only books.18 Reading & Writing Informational Text in the Primary Grades
What Do We Mean by
Throughout this book, we use the term research, so we should say something
about what we mean by it.To us, research is the systematic collection and analysis
of data for the purpose of addressing a question. For example, to address the
question “How much time do primary-grade children spend with informational
text in school?” researchers might collect data by observing in classrooms or
administering surveys. By applying specific procedures for collecting data, and having
specific procedures for analyzing them, those researchers are being systematic.
They report conclusions based not just on what they think or guess, but on the
data they collect and analyze.
In this book we focus on practices that are research based.This means that,
whenever possible, the practices we recommend (for example, improving children’s
reading comprehension) have been tested in one or more research studies and
shown to be effective. In some cases they have not been tested themselves
through research. In such cases, the practices are very closely related to practices