The 5 Best Fiction and Nonfiction Book Pairings for Younger Students

Do you use fiction and nonfiction book pairings with your students? Book pairings are great to use with students of all ages because it helps students understand the characteristics of each type of writing and may just encourage students to read both fiction and nonfiction books. A book pairing simply means that a fiction AND nonfiction book on the same topic can be read together for a lesson to compare and contrast.

Fiction and nonfiction book pairings are important for younger students because it begins to develop their understanding of the difference between the two genres. Make sure you use books that are shorter in length with students in grades K-2 so that you have plenty of time to re-read the books if needed and discuss them in detail during the lesson.

Here’s how to create a book pairing:

  1. Pick a topic (Check out this book list on similar topics from Island Park Library)
  2. Find both a fiction and nonfiction book about that topic. (Check your local library of course or Amazon has pretty much every book imaginable!)
  3. Before reading, create an essential question that will help students identify how the two texts are connected. 

Fun Ideas for Book Pairings:

  • Pair up readers as well- have a buddy class come in and have the older buddies read with their younger buddies.
  • Make sure you capture your student’s imagination when deciding on different book pairings!
  • Diagram the learning! Try having students organize their thoughts and visualize their learning with anchor charts, Venn diagrams and other graphic organizers. I like to use this Author’s Purpose Activity Bundle when pairing fiction and nonfiction books together.
  • Check out these fun book pairings to use in your classroom or reading groups from Reading A-Z.

Here are the 5 best fiction and nonfiction book pairings for younger students (in my opinion):

The Bones You Own by Rebecca Baines  (FICTION)

Students will learn why babies have 350 bones when they are born but mom only has just over 200 plus why milk is good for their bones. There are no chapters in this book and it gives great factual information regarding bones and the body. In addition, at the end it has some great questions that you can ask students. 

paired with

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler (NONFICTION)

Skeleton Hiccups is a silly book all about the best way to help a skeleton get over his hiccups. Students can note similarities and differences between the skeletons in both stories. This is a very simple book that kids can memorize easily and you are sure to get a laugh out of them when you act out the hiccups!

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (FICTION)

Stellaluna is the classic story about an adorable baby fruit bat who is separated from her mother one day and finds herself in a bird’s nest! Her world is turned upside down when she is adopted by the occupants of the nest and adapts to their peculiar bird habits.

paired with

Bats by Gail Gibbons (NONFICTION)

Though people often think of bats as scary, they are actually really shy and  gentle animals. There are nearly 1,000 different species of bats and they live on every continent except Antarctica. The author also discusses efforts on how to protect the world’s only true flying mammal in this nonfiction book that is perfect for elementary students. 

The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino (NONFICTION)

In this amazing nonfiction story about snow, students will learn how snow crystals are formed and if there are any two that are exactly alike. This book was written by a nature photographer and a snow scientist who do a great job curating student’s curiosity about snow. Plus the pictures are beautiful! Snow-catching instructions are also included of course!

paired with

A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett (FICTION)

This story follows a majestic polar bear through an amazing world full of snow and the deep blue sea. Readers will follow him over the ice, through the water, past the other arctic animals and even past a human. This story will make students wonder “where is he going and what does he want?”

The Frog Book by Steve Jenkins (NONFICTION)

Long legs, sticky tongues, big round eyes and other dazzling features-these Caldecott-award-winning authors try to make you wonder-What’s not to love about frogs?

paired with

The Frog Who Lost His Croak by Toni William (FICTION)

In this adorable rhyming story, you will follow the adventures of a little frog who wakes up one day to find out his croak is gone! Follow him on his incredible journey to get it back!

Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin (FICTION)

This adorable story is actually written in the form of a diary…by a spider. We learn that this spider is actually a lot like students-he goes to gym class and has grandparents day at school. BUT he also spins sticky webs, scales walls and takes wind-catching lessons. Funny enough, his best friend is a fly! Students will have fun comparing and contrasting Diary of a Spider with the facts they learn about spiders in the nonfiction text paired below. Plus, check out this Diary of a Spider Scoot/ Center Game to use with it!

paired with

Spiders: Amazing Pictures and Fun Facts on Animals in Nature by Kay de Silva (NONFICTION)

This book uses captivating illustrations and carefully chosen words to teach children about “the humankind’s friend.” There are gorgeous pictures along with captions under them to provide additional talking points with your students. This book depicts the wonder of the world of spiders in all its glory. Children are given a well-rounded understanding of these beautiful creatures: their anatomy, feeding habits, and behavior. 

The following spiders are featured: 

* The mysterious Black Widow 

* The dangerous Brazilian Wandering Spider 

* The shy Brown Recluse Spider

* The deceptive Crab Spider 

* The unique Diving Bell Spider 

* The fun-loving Jumping Spider 

* The beefy Tarantula

What are your favorite fiction and nonfiction book pairings?

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