I’m going to blow my stack … just bear with me. Please fellow teachers, please do NOT teach students that fiction is fake and nonfiction is real. Fiction is STORY and nonfiction is INFORMATIONAL.
You see, it’s simple. You can teach the concept of fiction in a variety of ways. For example … you can explain that it has a main character who encounters a bad guy, conflict, etc and then he has to solve that problem, overcome it and will change in some way. It’s very easy. If this is too complicated, you can tell children that fiction is a story where there is a main character doing something. But please, don’t say it’s FAKE. It could happen. It could be realistic fiction. Fake is plastic apple; fake is a phony smile; fake is movie set … fiction is not FAKE. Students get confused with this concept because then when you teach fact version opinion … they get REALLY confused because then they assume that an opinion is fake as well because it’s not real. Struggling readers get very confused with these terms. You see, in my tutoring business, I work with a 14 -year-old who told me last night that fiction is fake and nonfiction is real. Consistently for several years I have heard my young students explain these concepts in these terms–someone has to be teaching them this crazy stuff.
In addition, nonfiction is not REAL. Nonfiction is INFORMATIONAL. If they read a reference book about wizards and mythical heroes through the ages … ummm those characters aren’t REAL. Nonfiction is to inform the reader about an important topic. Plus, there are nuances of fact versus opinion as well. If a biography is written about John F. Kennedy–it could have incorrect facts, it could be “fake”, the information could have been fabricated. Oh dear, what do they do now?? Is a bad story about JFK now fictional? Or is it a poorly written informational piece?
Bottom line: Fiction is a STORY with a main character, the protagonist … who faces a series of problems called the rising action leading to the point you have been waiting for character to do .. called the climax … and when she solves this problem the actions after that are call the falling action and when all the loose ends are tied up at the end, it’s called the resolution.
Nonfiction is informational … it’s not necessarily meant to be read from front to cover unless it’s a biography or memoir. It’s a resource. It’s packed with facts which can be proved or disproved–that’s another post. Even though biographies are stories about people–they are written in a certain fashion–usually in chronological order. Autobiographies do the same thing except from a different POV.
Please I beg you … don’t confuse their minds with REAL vs. FAKE.