Early Years Non-Fiction
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Early Years Non-Fiction
An inspirational and perceptive guide which explores children's first experience of non-fiction in the preschool and foundation years. Aimed primarily at the student teacher as well as the busy classroom teacher working to incorporate non-fiction into the curriculum, it is grounded in the world of education, with chapter summaries, copious footnotes and references. Nevertheless there is a wealth of information on how children learn and their ability to distinguish different kinds of writing that would prove invaluable to anyone involved in children's books, whether bookseller, publisher or parent. The emphasis is on helping children to enjoy informational text, and Mallett starts from a viewpoint that reading for information can be just as exciting and imaginative as fiction. The first-hand observations and case studies, most of which are illustrated, are particularly revealing, and BfK's Hal features among the young children observed. Mallett's selection of books is always valuable and helpful, although the very nature of novelty books for this age group means that some of these items do not always stay in print for long. However she is careful to stress that updating, particularly where reference books are concerned, is a key issue, and gives publishers' websites wherever possible. She sets out her criteria for choosing books, whether alphabet book or dictionary. Does it have clear design, clear layout, humour? Is it appropriate for the age group, and above all does it have imaginative appeal? The distinction between fiction and non-fiction is often blurred at this young age group and children move freely between the two in speech and observation. Mallett looks at the role of fiction in informational learning and gives examples of stories and even TV series that can act as the trigger to inspire children's own research and writing. She works on the premise that children are best treated as active learners, and their excursions into the world of reference material are more productive if there is genuine desire to find out for reasons they understand. A useful glossary of terms relevant to non-fiction is included, together with background notes on Early Learning goals and the inclusion of non-fiction in the National Literacy Strategy and National Curriculum. An outstanding resource for anyone involved in early years literacy, this is a worthy companion to the author's Young Researchers, for which she won the UKRA author award in 2001.