Reading different types of nonfiction in the writing classroom

By writing about what they know and care about, children learn that they can use their expertise to inspire and awaken the minds and hearts of others.

Research has shown that there is a profound connection between effective writing instruction and reading. For example: reading, studying and discussing mentor texts, texts which match the kind of writing children are being invited to make for themselves, can yield a positive effect of +0.76 (Young & Ferguson 2021, 2023a). For children with SEND, it can be +0.94 (Young & Ferguson 2023b). To put those numbers in context, anything above a +0.4 is generally considered to have a significant positive impact on children’s writing development. Based on the work of Stewart & Correia (2021), we consider there to be six major types of nonfiction that children like to read and write. It’s therefore important that the mentor texts we share with children reflect these options. This way, children know they can write in these ways too as part of a class writing project. The six popular types of nonfiction are:

  • Traditional nonfiction (objective straight teaching)
  • Browseable nonfiction (teaching through grazing)
  • Narrative nonfiction (teaching through telling a story)
  • Literary nonfiction (teaching and painting with words)
  • ‘Doing’ nonfiction (teaching by getting them doing)
  • Faction (teaching about fantasy)


To find out more about reading effectively in the writing classroom, why not take a look at our eBook: Reading In The Writing Classroom: A Guide To Finding, Writing And Using Mentor Texts With Your Class.

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