I love pairing fiction with non-fiction books when I read to my kids. I usually start by reading the fiction book. For example, “Frog and Toad Are Friends” is a classic tale of two silly friends who converse and have small day-to-day type adventures. They act like people, dress like people, and think like people, though in the story they are a frog and a toad.
After reading that, read a nonfiction book about frogs or toads. Chances are your local library has several to choose from, but children’s books can usually be purchased really cheaply from Amazon too. Scholastic has a good one called “From Tadpole to Frog.”
Now you can compare the two books. Is anything in the story true about frogs? What truths did you learn from the nonfiction book? Why do you think the author used that particular animal? How would Frog and Toad Are Friends be different with an eagle and a falcon? An elephant and a lion? A mouse and a rat?
It can also be fun to explore some of the facts and fallacies about things in the world (especially animals). Are owls wise? Are lions kings of the jungle? Are elephants afraid of mice? Are pigs really dirty? Go to the library and be a detective…find out!
This can be done for readers of all ages. The key is usually to find the fiction book first. Find a great one, then go search the computer catalog at your library for a companion book about the subject.
It makes the non-fiction book much more interesting because you’ve got a great story attached to it in your mind already. Likewise, the fictional book is enhanced because you are becoming an expert on the topic.
It’s really valuable for kids to master the more difficult language of the world of non-fiction. They learn a great deal when motivated by a great story. Pairing fiction and non-fiction can also be just plain fun. Try it!