You can enjoy teaching realistic fiction in just three steps. (1) Start with the elements. (2) Read short stories. This gets kids hooked! (3) Choose a novel for the grand finale.
How to Enjoy Teaching Realistic Fiction
Start with the elements. Kids need to know what realistic fiction is. Click here to download this free handout.
Take a look at Literary Genre: Realistic Fiction, a 3-minute video by Pang Her. It emphasizes five traits of realistic fiction:
- Realistic fiction is still make-believe.
- It could happen in real life.
- The characters are realistic or could be alive today.
- Characters have no superpowers.
- You feel like the story could happen to you.
Read and analyze some short stories. This is my favorite step. Sharing and discussing let me enjoy teaching realistic fiction.
If you’d like to start with a story read orally, listen online to Butterflies Are Free by Jan Fenimore.
Select some realistic fiction picture books from your library. I like to pick 30-40 books and display them on a table. This invites kids to read realistic fiction. Discuss story elements or have students write out answers on one of these sheets.
If you’d like a printable story, try Jodie’s Daddy Is a Garbageman by Matthew Licht. I love this little story!
Your class already knows the elements of realistic fiction. Now’s the time to incorporate literature standards. Consider the standards you’d like to teach and how they fit with the book. Questions, vocabulary, and summarizing work well with any book. If your novel has strong lessons, teach theme. If it has well-developed characters, teach characterization. If it has wonderful illustrations, touch on the multimedia standard.
My students read The Black Stallion. The novel has well-developed characters and specialized vocabulary. Let’s take a look at how I address these in my unit. You’ll notice that I play to the novel’s strong suits.
Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Keep this in mind when choosing a novel. Teaching a book and reading a book are two different things. For teaching, pick a book with instructional value. If it’s something you simply enjoy reading, consider reading it aloud to your class.
I post new ideas, activities, and free downloads every week. Click here for an index (and to see what’s coming soon!)
Enjoy teaching realistic fiction!