Reading and comprehending informational text requires a distinct set of skills that are in some ways very different from the skills that students use to understand literary or narrative texts. Now, it must be noted that “informational text” is a truly broad term, encompassing everything (depending on who you ask) from memoir and biography to calculus textbooks to shopping lists, and consequently, different reading strategies and skills must be employed by readers when they approach this broad spectrum of text types and features.
Functional text – or texts that are written to help readers accomplish discrete, daily tasks – is one category of informational text that students must learn how to strategically comprehend and employ pragmatically. Dictionaries are not read in the same way that novels are, nor is a user manual read in the same way as a textbook. Building student familiarity with a wide variety of functional texts equips them to be proficient users of the information they will encounter in the real world, regardless of format or text appearance.
With this in mind, I’ve assembled a small assortment of some of the functional texts currently available on Brain Hive that you can make use of in your classroom. This small collection comprises just a small piece of functional text: “how-tos” and instructions. Integrate some of these titles into specific content area lesson plans, or use them as a collection as you introduce the principles of functional text reading to your language arts classes.
- The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery – William Gurstelle (Chicago Review Press)
- Be a Tracker – Chris Oxlade (Hungry Tomato)
- Desserts Around the World – Lee Engfer (Lerner)
- Hacking Fashion: T-Shirts – Kristin Fontichiaro (Cherry Lake)
- Plan an Outdoor Party – Eric Braun
- Learning to Sew – Kathleen Petelinsek
- The Racecar Book: Build and Race Mousetrap Cars, Dragsters, Tri-Can Haulers & More – Bobby Mercer (Chicago Review Press)
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