Ready to Read update – shared reading of non-fiction

Issue: Volume 94, Number 16

Posted: 7 September 2015
Reference #: 1H9cu_

The Ministry of Education is delighted to publish two new Ready to Read non-fiction books for shared reading. Both books are reports and support the Living World strand of the science curriculum.

Shared reading

Shared reading builds fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension; encourages enthusiasm for and enjoyment of reading; and fosters understanding of the features of a wide range of texts (including narrative, poetry, and non-fiction texts). It gives students access to texts that would otherwise be too difficult for them to read independently.

Stick Insects

Stick Insects describes the characteristics of stick insects and includes visual language features such as labelled diagrams, subheadings, text boxes, and bold print for key words. It has a thematic link to the Ready to Read guided text In the Bush (Red 3).


Camouflage describes what camouflage is and how creatures use it to stay safe. The teacher support materials (TSM) for this book provide information about several other Ready to Read and Junior Journal texts that include supporting information; in particular, information about predators.

These big books are accompanied by small book versions for students to read and enjoy independently once they are very familiar with the big book through repeated shared readings. As with all Ready to Read books, there are TSM and audio versions(external link).

Increasing access to non-fiction

Stick Insects and Camouflage support one of the recommendations of the 2013–14 Ready to Read review – to increase access to non-fiction through shared reading. Within the Ready to Read series, at all levels up to Turquoise on the colour wheel, texts for guided reading are narratives. Non-fiction texts for guided reading are introduced at Purple, by which time most students are well on the way to having effective processing systems and are more able to manage the often complex conceptual content and language of non-fiction texts. These new, non-fiction shared books affirm the importance and appeal of reading non-fiction (or information) texts right from school entry.

Why use non-fiction texts for shared reading?

Shared reading books are not linked to colour wheel levels but there is an indication on the backs of the books as to when they might best be introduced to students. For example, Stick Insects may be read and enjoyed with students right from school entry or used as a model for report writing for older students. Camouflage is a longer, more complex text and may be better introduced to students in year 2. Teachers can decide on the appropriate levels according to their reading purposes and knowledge of their students.

Here are some of the ways in which shared reading of non-fiction texts can support students’ reading and content area learning.

Shared reading of non-fiction:

  • Increases student access to non-fiction texts.
  • Provides high-interest reading experiences and a springboard for wider reading around a topic.
  • Expands the range of materials students are exposed to, supporting them to develop their personal reading preferences, both in regard to genre and to topics.
  • Provides exposure to ideas that may be outside students’ direct experiences, building their knowledge of the world.
  • Introduces students to the features of non-fiction texts, including particular text structures and uses of language.
  • Supports specific cross-curriculum purposes.
  • Supports processing behaviours that students can apply as they attempt the texts for themselves after multiple shared readings.
  • Provides opportunities for students to apply comprehension strategies to non-fiction texts.
  • Builds students’ understanding of the ways that non-fiction texts can be read (which can be different from reading fiction). For example, rather than always reading from start to finish, readers may focus on sections of particular interest, search for specific information, or use visual language features such as text boxes or a glossary to support word-solving and comprehension.

(See the 21 November 2011 issue of the Education Gazette for a full discussion of shared reading of fiction texts.)

We’d love to hear from you We know you will enjoy sharing these engaging new books with your students. Please share your feedback about your use of these books and your ideas for further non-fiction texts for shared reading by contacting our publishing provider at:

Replacement copies of Ready to Read books may be ordered from:

Feedback from trialling

All Ready to Read books are trialled before publication. See below for teachers’ comments about these engaging new titles.

Stick Insects

  • "The layout of the book presented new ways of looking at text – the questions as headings were often the same as the questions the children had wanted to know prior to the reading."
  • "The text encourages curiosity and draws the children in."
  • "Children were able to use the text to find answers to their wonderings."


  • "The students loved the theme of the text, and had a lot of prior knowledge to bring to the reading. The New Zealand creatures were common enough for the students to know what they were."
  • "The children were delighted with the photographs. They found it 'inviting' as a first read."
  • "It was high interest and great to have some non-fiction with a New Zealand context."
  • "High interest and a topic that we don’t have many books about."
  • "A great resource to support children with their report writing."

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:12 am, 7 September 2015

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