Most children like to read informational text. If they are interested in the topic, students can engage in this genre with excitement. There is no disagreement that children will need to be fluent readers of informational texts as they move forward in their learning. So, what do our students need to know about informational text?
Google or Pinterest the topic and you will see that the main focus of instruction is text features. I call these the "tricky parts" of reading informational text. While they are important, there is so much more to teach.
Out goal is to create readers, writers, and researchers. Students must be able to comprehend informational texts and use them in authentic ways. This requires the teacher to model the reading of informational texts and teach reading strategies that will promote reading comprehension. Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies can foster comprehension (Duke & Pearson, 2002). Here is a book that will help you understand the importance of comprehension strategies!
Teachers must differentiate instruction within the classroom. Selecting books on different levels will help teachers meet the needs of their students. Here is an exceptional article with videos that will encourage you to support all students. Don't forget to refer to the Continuum of Literacy Learning to see what the text demands are at each level.
Mentor texts are a vital part of informational text reading and writing. Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli in their book NonFiction Mentor Texts, offer a wide range of mentor texts and show how these models illustrate the key features of good writing. This is a great resource!
I encourage you to think beyond the "tricky parts" and go for the development of the genre. We want our students to comprehend and enjoy a wide variety of informational texts. To authentically read and write about topics of interest.