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Reading Nonfiction (Print eBook Bundle)

Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies

By Kylene Beers, Robert E Probst

We all know the value of helping students define nonfiction and understand its text structures. Reading Nonfiction goes the next crucial step—helping kids challenge the claims of nonfiction authors, be challenged by them, and skillfully and rigorously make up their mind about purported truths.

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This product is part of the series:  The Notice & Note Series

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Also available: Reading Nonfiction Student Bookmarks and Notice & Note/Reading Nonfiction Signpost Student Bookmarks

“When students recognize that nonfiction ought to challenge us, ought to slow us down and make us think, then they’re more likely to become close readers.” That means we need to help them question texts, authors, and, ultimately, their own thinking. No matter the content area, with Reading Nonfiction’s classroom-tested suggestions, you’ll lead kids toward skillful and responsible disciplinary literacy.

Picking up where their smash hit Notice & Note left off, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst write: “Fiction invites us into the writer’s imagined world; nonfiction intrudes into ours and purports to tell us something about it.” This crucial difference increases the responsibility of the nonfiction reader, so Kylene and Bob have developed interlocking scaffolds that every student can use to go beyond a superficial reading:

  • 3 essential questions that set students up for closer, more attentive readings of nonfiction texts
  • 5 Notice & Note nonfiction signposts that cue kids to apply the skills and processes that sophisticated readers use instinctively
  • 7 proven strategies readers can use to clear up confusions when the text gets tough.

We all know the value of helping students define nonfiction and understand its text structures. Reading Nonfiction goes the next crucial step—helping kids challenge the claims of nonfiction authors, be challenged by them, and skillfully and rigorously make up their mind about purported truths.

(click any section below to continue reading)


Fiction v. nonfiction: Different demands for readers
How teaching nonfiction differs from teaching literature

Sneak Preview

Invitations and Intrusions

From Kylene: Early in our discussion of this book, we kept pushing each other to define the most critical difference between fiction and nonfiction. We discarded the idea that one was true and the other not because we read a great deal of nonfiction that we know is not based on facts or truths. Then, during the 2014 Boothbay Literacy Retreat, Bob made the following comment: "Fiction invites us into the writer's imagined world; nonfiction intrudes into ours and purports to tell us something about it."

Everyone in the room stopped taking notes and looked up, and I knew we (well, Bob) had said something that resonated with many. People broke into groups and began discussing this. During dinner that night, Lester Laminack wanted to know more about this idea. Over the next several months, Bob and I continued to discuss this vision of how fiction and nonfiction differ. Eventually, we agreed that his comment captured something we find critically important.

Perhaps fiction allows (at times) a more relaxed reading because it acknowledges that it's inviting us into an imaginary realm. It may ask us to regard as true, for the moment, what we know to be unreal. When we enter the novel we agree to accept many of the inventions; when the author presents to us a character, we accept him or her and pretend for the moment that the character is a living person. When the author shows us something happening, we accept that it happens. Some genres within fiction ask us to accept more than others. In a work of science fiction or fantasy, for example, we may be asked to believe—temporarily, of course—that one can travel through time or upon the back of a dragon. If we are to read that novel with enjoyment, we probably have to say to ourselves, in essence, "All right, while I'm in the pages of this book, I'll pretend that dragons do exist."

This momentary suspension of disbelief does not require us to leave our values and understandings behind, nor does it deny us the right to make our own judgments about the fictional text. Indeed, we may doubt whether the motivations and the behaviors depicted are believable, we may question the ethics of the characters, and we may condemn the morality of their choices. Or the reverse may be true. We may find that reflection upon the fictional text causes us to question some of our own understandings of human behavior, perhaps question our own ethics and some of our own choices. But if we don't accept, momentarily, some of the author's invention, we may as well not read the novel in the first place.

Developing that Skeptical Eye

Nonfiction, on the other hand, enters our world and tells us something about it. It must enter our world if it is to be meaningful to us. We aren't invited into the author's invented world to mingle with her invented characters and witness her invented happenings; the nonfiction writer intrudes into our very real world, tells us about real people, describes real events. At least, we want to trust the writer to do so. The nonfiction text may tell us about the newest tech tool, what caused World War II, how dinosaurs evolved, whom we should vote for in the next election, or how to fix dinner; no matter the content, it will give us information or make some argument about the world we inhabit. Writing that enters our world so directly needs to be read with a questioning stance, one that reminds us to be somewhat skeptical of that person intruding into our world. We don't raise that question about the flying brooms in the Harry Potter novels, but texts about health care, climate change, Ebola, women's reproductive rights, cyber-bullying, testing mandates, marriage equality, or the lengthening of the school year deserve that consideration. Perhaps we have a better opportunity at holding on to that skeptic's eye if we remember we aren't guests in the author's world; he is a guest in ours.


Companion Resources

Appendix A Surveys

  1. Teaching Nonfiction, Grades 4-12
  2. Let's Talk About It Survey

Appendix C Teaching Resources and Booklists

  1. Magazines Most Often Used
  2. Websites Most Often Used
  3. Thirty of Our Favorite Nonfiction Books
  4. Forty of My Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books
  5. Signal Words
  6. Really Template
  7. Word Knowledge
  8. Semantic Map
  9. Chemistry Notes
  10. Math Notes
  11. Social Studies Notes
  12. Possible Sentences
  13. KWL 2.0
  14. Somebody Wanted But So
  15. ABC Boxes
  16. Worksheet for Analysis of Text Complexity of a Nonfiction Text
  17. Rigor and Talk Checklist for Nonfiction


Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies is without a doubt the most easily applicable professional reading I have ever encountered. For those teachers who have been anxiously waiting for the book to be published, it is well worth the wait. For all those Tweeters out there, get ready to tweet (@HeinemanPub) your thoughts, ideas, and success stories. For those Notice and Note Facebook fans, I can’t wait to read your posts. To Kylene and Bob, how can we begin to thank you?
—Linda Biondi on Middleweb
Read the entire review.

"This is much more than a book about nonfiction and signposts.  I believe this is a cornerstone text that will revolutionize teaching of any nonfiction topic."
—Melissa Jones on LivingTheWorkshop
Read the entire review.

Related PD Services

PD Resources From Kylene Beers



PD Resources From Robert E Probst