Reading

Nonfiction Reading That Appeals to Girls

Posted on March 28, 2012
Nonfiction Reading That Appeals to Girls

Nonfiction Reading That Appeals to Girls

Posted on March 28, 2012

Nonfiction Reading That Appeals to Girls

No one would dispute that there's a lot of current research outlining ways to target struggling male readers. And although there may be more struggling boys than girls, that doesn't mean teachers aren't facing issues with their female readers. One of the most common challenges teachers voice is how to entice female readers to read informational text with the same fervor many dive into narrative and fiction text. Unfortunately, there's just not much research on this topic or strategies to combat it. However, after analyzing reading habits and with information from educators and experts, a theme emerged... Girls like people! Girls like talking. Girls like relationships. Girls like talking to people about their relationships!

Most females (adult, adolescent, or elementary) prefer historical fiction to historical textbooks. Girls prefer biographies about famous inventors rather than the facts and uses of the invention itself. They'd rather visit a time-period museum with dressed up actors role-playing than visit a museum with archived documents and dusty objects. Girls remember things because of the people behind the things. So back to the initial question—You want to hook your female students with nonfiction? Consider making it less about memorizing the facts and more about the people affected by those facts.

Breathing life into nonfiction

Reveal the people behind different concepts or content-area subjects you teach.

Explain what it was like, how it felt to live in that historical time period, endure that medical illness, or be a kid (the same age they are) in that country. Offer anecdotes in between the information. Give students someone they can directly/indirectly relate to. Students can empathize with a real person's struggles or difficulties. This breathes life into what many females might claim as "boring" informational text.

For example, when teaching conservation, don't just talk about the importance of it and what it means. Introduce your students to Julia Butterfly Hill who climbed a tree and lived there for 738 days because she believed so passionately in the cause. We all want our students to see the bigger picture, the significance behind the concepts. Well, to do that would not only get students thinking deeper, but engage the females in your classroom.

Revealing people

There's more than one way to introduce the people behind the scenes, the people involved in the topic, the people affected by the situation, or a group associated with a concept. You could share photographs and explain their connection orally. Read a short picture book about characters or a newspaper article about a real person in a similar situation. Brochures, magazine profiles, diary entries, museum plaques, video clips, even current Facebook pages are all options as well.

You need to find someone or a group of "someones" who can be tied to a facet of your nonfiction concept. If you want your female readers to be engaged in the facts, put a face behind the information.