Information Books in Early Childhood summary

Introduction: This assignment investigates the need for using literature in all interest and subject areas in the early childhood classroom.This assignment fulfills
Module Outcome Three: You will have described classroom environments that are rich in literacy materials and support optimal literacy instruction.
Course Outcome Six: You will have developed activities that support the development of literacy skills in developmentally apporpriate ways.
General Education Competency One: You will have communicated effectively using the conventions of American Standard English in professional and academic environments.
The Assignment:Summarize this article from NAEYC.NAEYC, 2003 “Information Books in Early Childhood” by Nell K DukeThe summary should answer the following three questions below. Each question must have an answer that is a minimum of 7 sentences. Please make sure you read the statement on Plagiarism. Also, do not copy and paste the article – that is plagiarism. TITLE MUST BE INCLUDED1) What is the main focus of the article?2) What are three strategies that are discussed in the article?3) How will you implement (use) the strategies/ideas (from the article) when working with young children?Grading CriteriaThe summary is graded on a 100 point scale; it is worth 5% of your overall class grade. Maximum points are given when length 3 paragraphs with each paragraph containing 7 sentences is met and content summarizes key strategies to use with young children and families. Grading Criteria20 points – Three paragraphs are included, each paragraph has a minimum of seven sentences20 points – First paragraph summarizes the main focus of the article30 points – Second paragraph summarizes three strategies from the article 20 points – Third paragraph gives specific strategies/ideas you will use when working with young children.10 points – correct grammar and spelling are used.
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Reading to Learn from the Very Beginning
Information Books in
Early Childhood
Nell K. Duke
T
he Mitten, Little Bear, Caps for Sale—What do
these and so many other books in early childhood classrooms have in common? They are stories or
narrative texts.
Research indicates that storybooks are indeed the
most common type of text found in early childhood
classrooms (Duke, Bennett-Armistead, & Roberts 2002).
Literacy research and theory both provide lots of good
reasons for including so many storybooks in young
children’s lives (e.g., Snow, Burns, & Griffin 1998).
However, research and theory suggest that other kinds
of books, in particular information books, also belong in
early childhood classrooms.
Contrary to what many believe, there are numerous
indications that informational text is appropriate for
young children and can have significant benefits for
them. Informational literacy can be developed from the
very beginning.
elements, such as diagrams and photographs; text
structures, such as compare/contrast and cause and
effect; access formats, such as headings and an index;
language forms, such as use of timeless verbs and
generic nouns (e.g., “Birds eat insects” versus “That
bird is eating an insect”); and others.
Traditionally, informational text is the text that we
read to learn, as distinguished from the text that we
learn to read. Many educators believe that children
begin to read to learn around fourth grade and that
before this, children are only learning to read (Chall
1983). However, as I discuss in this article, research
suggests that children are indeed able to read to learn
(and be read to, to learn) from a much earlier age. Just
as nonfiction is common in the everyday lives of adults,
so too can it be part of the daily lives of children.
Informational text is developmentally
appropriate for young children
What is informational text?
Perhaps the most important
point to establish is that
informational text is developmentally appropriate for
interact successfully
young children. Although a
with informational text
number of influential theorists
have argued that narrative is
when given the opporprimary for young children
tunity to do so.
(e.g., Moffett 1968; Bruner
1986), that it must “do for all”
(Moffett 1968, x) in early
childhood, there is little research to support this
contention. A variety of studies suggest young children
can interact successfully with informational text when
Nell K. Duke, Ed.D., is an assistant professor at Michigan State
given the opportunity to do so. Several examples follow.
University in East Lansing. She has worked extensively with
An often cited study by Christine Pappas (1993) notes
teachers on developing children’s informational literacy. Her book
that kindergarten children repeatedly read to from a set
on the subject—Reading and Writing Informational Text in the Primary Grades: Research-Based Practices—is due out later this year.
of information books were able to pretend to read those
same books using many of the key linguistic features of
Illustrations © Diane Greenseid
I define informational text as text written
with the primary purpose of conveying
information about the natural and social
world (typically from someone presumed to
be more knowledgeable on the subject to
someone presumed to be less so) and
having particular text features to accomplish this purpose. Features commonly
found in informational texts include graphic
Young children can
1
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the books. In fact
they could read
them with as much
others to be swallowed, and
skill as they read
some few to be chewed and
storybooks. The
digested.”
children showed
strong interest in
— Francis Bacon
both types of text
(see also Duke &
Kays 1998).
Other research (Moss 1997) demonstrates that not
only can children reproduce or reenact the language of
informational text but also they can comprehend such
texts with considerable skill. Eighteen of 20 first-graders
Moss studied could produce retellings of information
books read to them at a level of 3 (out of 5) or better on
the challenging Richness of Retelling Scale (Irwin &
Mitchell 1983).
Research also indicates that young children can
respond to informational texts in sophisticated ways.
Researchers document that first grade students can
make intertextual connections—associations between
one text and another with related content or style—
during an informational text read-aloud (Oyler & Barry
1996). Some primary grade children are even able to
talk about unique characteristics and purposes of
informational texts, given exposure to them (Donovan
1996). One researcher chronicles the range and complexity of her daughter’s responses to informational
texts from age three to six (Maduram 2000).
The Maduram study is particularly important because it examines read-alouds and responses to readalouds by a pre-K child. Almost all of the research
related to informational literacy focuses on grades K
and above. It is noteworthy that what little research
exists on pre-K also suggests that informational text is
developmentally appropriate.
“Some books are to be tasted,
Why informational text for young children?
But just because young children can interact with
informational text, should they? Is this simply another
case of “push down” curriculum? Available research
and theory suggest otherwise. The next section outlines
some long-standing beliefs about early childhood that
actually suggest why informational text might be
particularly appropriate during this period.
Building on young children’s inherent curiosity
Young children are inherently curious about the
world around them. One need only witness children’s
fascination with cars and trucks passing, a puppy
playing in the park, or worms that wash up after the
2
rain to recognize the young child’s great interest in the
natural and social world. Thus books whose purposes
are to convey information about the natural and social
world—like Caroline Bingham’s Big Book of Trucks, Gail
Gibbons’s Dogs, or Linda Glaser’s Wonderful Worms—
seem a natural for young children (see Reese & Harris
1997; Yopp & Yopp 2000).
The dominance of narrative text in early childhood
may be inconsistent with children’s own preferences.
Although the research in this area is riddled with
problems (Kletzien 1999), taken as a whole it suggests
that children do not show overwhelming preferences
for narrative to the exclusion of other text forms.
Rather, children often select nonfiction, informational
texts when given a choice.
Notably, one study indicates that younger primary
children are particularly likely to show preference for
informational text (Kletzien & Szabo 1998). In this study
children in first, second, and third grades preferred
information books at least as often as narratives when
asked to choose between them (with book topic held
constant). Fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders, however,
more often selected narratives. Boys in general were
more likely to select informational texts, but as with
nearly any study in this area, there were substantial
individual differences. Some children, both boys and
girls, exhibited a strong preference for narrative texts,
some for informational texts, others for neither.
When children’s preference is for narrative, they fit
well with the typical text offerings of early childhood
classrooms. When their text choice is informational,
children fit considerably less well. For children at risk
for or struggling with learning to read, there is particular reason to pay attention to research on reading interests and preferences. Interest has an important influence on children’s enthusiasm for reading and can even
support children’s reading development (Schiefele,
Krapp, & Winteler 1992). As teachers we also know that
struggling readers typically show less interest in and
motivation to read than do their more successful peers
(Guthrie & Wigfield 1997). One might suspect then that
making high-interest reading material available to students at risk or struggling to learn to read
may be particularly
ome children,
important.
exIn case studies
conducted with my
hibited a strong prefercolleague Linda
ence for narrative texts,
Caswell (Caswell &
Duke 1998), we examsome for informational
ined the progress of
texts, others for neither.
two boys struggling
substantially with their
S
both
boys and girls,
reading development. We found that
the boys’ reading development
finally took off when their
teachers provided them with
a reading and writing diet
rich in informational
text—a type of text
these boys strongly
preferred. Although
providing these
children with
informational
reading material
was by no
means the only
factor contributing to their progress,
we argue that it was one important factor.
Research involving highly successful adults with
dyslexia shows that one factor the adults had in common was a childhood history of high-volume reading in
topic areas of passionate interest to them—areas quite
often addressed in informational texts (Fink 1995/1996).
While not definitive on the point of interest, these
studies do suggest that young readers at risk or struggling will benefit from high-interest materials, including
informational texts. For many young learners the highinterest nature of informational texts is one argument
for their inclusion in early childhood education.
Supporting vocabulary and world
knowledge development
There are substantial individual differences in children’s development and learning, but there is no question that early childhood is a time of notable growth of
vocabulary and world knowledge (Shonkoff & Phillips
2000). By definition, informational text is written to convey information about the world around us and contains
specialized vocabulary toward that end (e.g., PurcellGates & Duke 2001). Thus informational texts may be
particularly well-suited to contributing to young children’s development of vocabulary and world knowledge.
Even before children can read independently, there is
evidence that they learn vocabulary from texts read
aloud to them (e.g., Elley 1989). Although studies on
this point have been conducted primarily with
storybooks, it is reasonable to think the same would
hold true with information books (Dreher 2000). In one
study kindergarten teachers included more discussion
of vocabulary and text concepts when reading aloud
informational texts than when reading aloud narrative
texts. A first grade teacher in another study devoted
more attention to comprehension in general when
reading informational text aloud (Smolkin & Donovan
2000; see also Mason et al. 1989).
Parents may interact more around
vocabulary and concepts when reading
aloud informational text. A study of
mothers of Head Start children did find
just that; the mothers asked more
questions and introduced more
vocabulary when reading aloud
informational rather than narrative
texts (Pellegrini et al. 1990; see
also Lennox 1995). If anything, we
might expect reading aloud
informational text to have a
greater effect on the development of vocabulary and concept
knowledge.
With respect to development of
world knowledge in general, research is also suggestive.
One study shows evidence that kindergarten children
develop content knowledge from information books
read to them (Duke & Kays 1998). Children’s journal
entries regularly contained content linked to information books that were read aloud. For example, after
hearing the book Potato, by Barrie Watts, about how
potatoes grow, one child drew a cross-section of a
sprouting potato plant. After hearing books about
spiders, a child drew a spider and spider web complete
with entangled prey (an idea discussed in one of the
books). Research involving third grade children whose
science unit contained both firsthand observation and
informational texts shows they learned more than those
children whose science unit contained only firsthand
observation (Anderson & Guthrie 1999).
With regard to intervention on behalf of children who
might have difficulty learning to read or who were
already struggling to build literacy skills, using informational text as a means of developing early vocabulary
and world knowledge may be significant. Researchers
find that on average these children’s vocabulary
knowledge is weaker than that of their peers (Snow,
Burns, & Griffin 1998), and they are more likely to
struggle with
reading later in
school when
substantial informational reading is
may be particularly wella demand (Chall,
suited to contributing to
Jacobs, & Baldwin
1990).
young children’s develEncouragingly,
opment of vocabulary
one study of poor
readers notes they
and world knowledge.
are particularly
Informational texts
3
likely to improve vocabulary development from repeated read-alouds (Elley 1989). Thus, while more
direct research is needed, the evidence suggests that
incorporation of information books in early childhood
settings may lead to improved development of vocabulary and world knowledge.
Developing children’s concepts of
reading and writing
genre of school.” Their views of what constitutes
reading and literacy were shaped accordingly.
Research demonstrates that kindergartners and first
and second grade students who have had little experience with informational text at home or at school show
limited knowledge of such text; their literacy knowledge
is directly tied to the types of literacy they have experienced (Kamberelis 1998). Limited knowledge of the
multiple purposes and types of literacy is particularly
likely to be a problem among children who get most of
their literacy knowledge and experience at school.
In the United States and other relatively literate
societies, early childhood is a time to build children’s
conceptions of the purposes and nature of reading and
writing (e.g., Harste, Woodward, & Burke 1984; Clay
Steps toward bringing informational
1993). These conceptions may differ depending on the
text to young children
nature and uses of literacy to which children are
The joint position statement of the International
exposed (e.g., Heath 1983; Purcell-Gates 1995, 1996).
Reading Association (IRA) and NAEYC (1998) clearly
Thus if early childhood settings do not offer informacalls for young children to experience a variety of texts,
tional texts, children may not learn that literacy is a
including informational texts, in child care and premeans of obtaining or communicating information.
school settings. Early childhood educators have an
In research I conducted in first grade classrooms,
important role to play in increasing the availability of
teachers offered children very little experience with
informational texts for young children. Here are some of
informational text: an average of 3.6 minutes per day,
the things we can do:
even less for children in low socioeconomic-status settings (Duke 2000). As a result, the idea that one impor1. Be aware of the types of text to which we are
tant purpose of reading and writing is to obtain or com(and are not) exposing our children.
municate information about the natural or social world
did not get attention within these classrooms.
Look at your classroom libraries, at the books you
In addition, no one conveyed the
send home with children, at
notion that text can be read nonlinearly.
what you read aloud every day.
Children had not learned that we can
How much is informational? Do
read just parts of a text, not necessarily
children experience a wide arin order, often using tools such as the
ray of texts in your classroom?
do not offer
index, headings, and table of contents to
Do you have colleagues who
informational texts,
guide us. The literacy to which children
would benefit from increased
in my study were exposed was almost
awareness about this issue?
children may not learn
exclusively linear, proceeding from the
that literacy is a means
beginning to the end of the text, in order,
2. Devote some funds for
and in its entirety. This experience
books
and other materials to
of obtaining or commustands in sharp contrast to much of the
the purchase of informational
nicating information.
reading that adults do in their daily lives,
texts.
which in fact is nonlinear in nature
For a while we may need to
(Venezky 1982). Nonlinear reading will
overcompensate, spending a larger portion of funds on
become more dominant with increased use of technolnonfiction to help balance our collections. Information
ogy (Kamil & Lane 1998).
books, children’s nature magazines, and many other
Hynes (2000) illustrates the possible impact of this
nonstorybook texts can increase the diversity of our
restricted representation of literacy in early childhood
libraries and their appeal to a greater number of
by describing a struggling student who did not consider
children with varied needs and interests. Find out from
himself a reader because he did not read narrative
children the kinds of texts and topics they would like to
literature for pleasure. This student and others were
see in their classroom library.
described by Hynes as “living outside the dominant
If early childhood
settings
4
3. Raise parents’ awareness of the appropriateness and value of informational texts.
Parents magazine recently listed “The 50 Best Children’s Books” (Seid 2002). All 50 books are stories, and
all but one are fictional. We need to supplement these
resources with suggestions for informational and other
types of books for young children. When lending
children’s books for home reading, include information
books as well as storybooks.
4. Include more informational texts in
classroom activities.
Although there is limited research identifying an accepted set of best practices for using informational
texts with young children, I have seen a number of activities work effectively. Some have a basis in research.
There is much early childhood educators can do to
incorporate informational text into our classrooms. And
as more early childhood educators develop ways of
using information books in their classrooms, early
childhood researchers will need to study their impact
on children’s learning. Researchers need to look
especially at what happens when children are exposed to a significant amount of informational text
from very early on and throughout several years of
schooling. Currently we know little about the outcomes. Early childhood researchers and educators
have important contributions to make in developing
informational literacy.
References
Anderson, E., & J.T. Guthrie. 1999. Motivating children to gain
conceptual knowledge from text: The combination of science
observation and interesting texts. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association,
19–23 April, in Montreal, Canada.
Bruner, J. 1986. Actual minds, possible worlds. London: Harvard
University Press.
Caswell, L.J., & N.K. Duke. 1998. Non-narrative as a catalyst for
literacy development. Language Arts 75: 108–17.
Chall, J.S. 1983. Stages of reading development. New York: McGrawHill.
Chall, J.S., V.A. Jacobs, & L.E. Baldwin. 1990. The reading crisis:
Why poor children fall behind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Clay, M.M. 1993. An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Donovan, C.A. 1996. First graders’ impressions of genre-specific
elements in writing narrative and expository texts. In Literacies
for the twenty-first century, eds. D.J. Leu, C.K. Kinzer, & K.A.
Hinchman, 183–94. Chicago, IL: National Reading Conference.
Dreher, M.J. 2000. Fostering reading for learning. In Engaging
young readers: Promoting achievement and motivation, eds. L.
Baker, M.J. Dreher, & J. Guthrie, 94–118. New York: Guilford.
Duke, N.K. 2000. 3.6 minutes per day: The scarcity of informational texts in first grade. Reading Research Quarterly 35: 202–24.
Duke, N.K., V.S. Bennett-Armistead, & E. …
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