To start our non-fiction reading unit, the 4th grade learned and discussed that non-fiction books present information in different ways and, as a result, appeal to different kinds of readers. Of course, all students must interact successfully with expository and narrative non-fiction texts, but developing the skills to do so takes time, patience, and practice. Which is what we will be working on!
To begin our study of different non-fiction texts, we read Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade By Melissa Sweet. As the title suggests, Balloons Over Broadway is about Tony Sarg, who invented the puppets that the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade displays each year. We discussed how this book is a narrative but stays within the non-fiction fence. Facts must be woven thoughtfully and artfully into the text to feel like a seamless part of the telling. We talked about how the author wants kids to cheer and gasp at Tony Sarg's story but, at the same time, cannot make anything up. Every detail in the book has to be documented. It has to come from a reliable source since it is Non-Fiction.
After reading the book, I asked students to think about their own non-fiction lives. What do they like to read about, or what do they know a lot about? Do you read more narrative nonfiction or expository non-fiction? What interests you as a non-fiction reader? Then, I challenged them to create a Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon out of Lego based on their own non-fiction reading lives. Here is a video of their creations that we edited together.