We all know by now that informational texts are a huge focus of the Common Core State Standards, with special emphasis placed on how to recognize informational text features and knowing how to use them. Just teaching students the names of these different parts of a book is not enough—though even that can be tricky for beginning readers. They also need to know why they are important.
One way you can help students to understand the purpose of informational text features is to divide the features into categories. You can show them how each category of text feature is there to help them in a particular way. You can teach them to think of these features not as a challenge to understand, but as a set of helpful friends that are there to make understanding the text easier. Here is one way to divide the features:
Features for Finding
These features tell you where things are. If an assignment asks the student a question about something in the text, these features are helpful for the student to locate the information and answer the question.
- Table of Contents
Features for Flagging
These features tell you what is important. If a student is reading a book, these features are a sign, like waving a little flag, that tell them that it's time to pay close attention.
- Bold print
- Bullet points ;)
Features for Explaining
These features take something on the page and tell you more about it. They are there to give you more information and show you how something works or what something means.
Once students understand how informational texts are there to help them—each helping in its own way—it will make it a little easier for them to meet the standards of knowing how to use them even at early grade levels. For low-level informational texts that contain these features and make a good introduction to how they work, check out our paired text series: Fables and the Real World (at a first-grade reading level) and Story World Real World (at a second-grade reading level).
For more information on our informational texts and to see inside pages of books from these series and more, you can click the image below to download an informational text brochure.