With the Common Core State Standards comes an urgency for reading non-fiction in the classroom, which is great…right? Yes, of course we want our students to read non-fiction! Many teachers, however are struggling to find strong non-fiction resources. Many of the classroom libraries I see throughout the week are stocked with fiction, fantasy, classics and old favorites. They have scattered non-fiction texts at best, with selections that pale in comparison to the wide variety of fiction that is available. What is a teacher to do when standards say students must read an increasing amount of non-fiction but resources are lacking? Or worse, when the school budget has no extra money for more non-fiction resources? Fret no more, there are options!
Non-fiction magazines are a great way to incorporate high-engagement non-fiction into your classroom. Click for my picks on classroom magazines. The problem is that many magazines are costly, and it is challenging to know which to choose! One piece of advice: At the moment, Scholastic Magazines offer some free digital resources that are so helpful! It can be tricky to navigate the sites. I’d recommend finding the magazine you like best and going to that magazine’s homepage. From there you should be able to navigate to any free resources. My top picks are: Scope Magazine, Scholastic Storyworks, Art Magazine and best of all Action Magazine (see below!)
Action Magazine: This is an intervention magazine that is high-interest/low level. It is a wonderful resource for struggling readers in middle/high school. The best part is that they have a section of differentiated articles that come at 3 Lexile levels, allowing a teacher to provide one article at multiple levels, yet engage students in one conversation about the text. This is INCREDIBLE! In my dreams, there is an entire magazine that caters to differentiation…perhaps soon.
ReadWorks is another great free resource (you just have to create a login.) If you click on Non-Fiction Passages you can search texts by grade level, skill or strategy or keyword. The passages come with questions. To be honest, I usually create my own questions that align with the standard, skill or strategy I am teaching, but the questions are available if you wish to use them.
Time for Kids is a magazine that I have seen in quite a few classrooms. It’s a great way to fuse social studies and science with literacy. Though the magazine is pay for, full articles are available on the site.
PenPal News is a platform that allows way to pair your classroom with another classroom to read about real-world issues in the news. All texts are hand-picked non-fiction and the curriculum offers standards-aligned questions that peak critical thinking. To get involved sign up here.
*Full disclosure: I work with Michael Bernstein at PenPal News, so I obviously think it’s great:)
If you try out any of these resources and have questions, make sure to email me or leave a comment and I’d be glad to offer any support I can.