4 Tips for Teaching Fiction Vs. Nonfiction

Learning the difference between fiction and nonfiction takes practice, practice, practice. Here are some tips for fun lessons, ideas, and games to reinforce this concept.


After choosing your book to read aloud, find a nonfiction book to pair with it. You don’t have to read the entire nonfiction book, just a page or two. Talk about the features of each book and what makes them different.


Practice the words. Even when students understand the difference between the two genres, they still seem to get the terminology mixed up. Usage of the words is essential to correct this. As students are reading, ask if their book is fiction or nonfiction and have them explain why. When they check out books from the library, have them tell you the genre of the books they chose.

  • Play a game of SCOOT with real books. DIRECTIONS: Use sticky notes to number about 15 books (or as many as you have time for)  and place them around the classroom in numerical order. Put students in pairs, then assign each pair a number to begin on. Once everyone is in the right spot, explain that you’ll give them about 30 seconds to determine if the book is fiction or nonfiction. Encourage them to look through the pages for features that help identify the genre. They write their answer on a numbered sheet of paper. When you give a signal, they’ll scoot to the next number. Make sure students understand where to write their answers. For example, if they start at #12, they must write the answer by #12 on the recording sheet. When the signal is given, they’ll move to #13. Each time you give the signal, they move to the next number until they’ve completed them all. When the game is over, hold up each book and discuss the genre as students check their answers.

  • Trash Can Basketball (Trashketball)! Divide the class into 4 or 5 teams. Give each team a fiction and a nonfiction sign. You can download them HERE. Show a book and read the title. Teams huddle together to determine if the book is fiction or nonfiction. After a few seconds, give a signal for one person from each team to hold up their answer. Each team with the correct answer gets one point and a chance to shoot a ball into a trash can to earn extra points.  You can have two different shooting lines and have them choose the one they want to try. The closer one earns their team one extra point and the one farther away earns the team two extra points. The team with the most points at the end wins! To speed the game up, you can have a trash can or some type of container, and a ball for each team so they all throw at the same time. To keep things under control, you might make a rule that when a group gets too rowdy, the other teams get a point. 

  • Here’s an Interactive PowerPoint lesson I created as a review and practice. Because it’s interactive, it’s always a hit. After showing a slide that has a book cover, choose a student or team to answer the question: Is it fiction or nonfiction? Click to reveal the correct answer. This can be played game style and can be used in the trashketball game I mentioned above. There is also an EDITABLE PowerPoint so you can insert a photo of your favorite books.  Click on the image to see it in my TpT store.

  • Play a 25-question Jeopardy-style game with a scoreboard. Divide the class into 2 to 5 teams. Click the point value and the question appears. Students can use small whiteboards to write their answers. After everyone has answered, click the ANSWER button to reveal the correct response. Go to the scoreboard to award the points. Click the image to see this game in my TpT store.


Keep anchor charts or posters on display throughout the year. You can make your own or download these FREE ones in my TpT store. Print the 8 x 10 size OR the 16 x 20 size. The larger ones are on four pieces of paper. Just print and tape them together.

If you need more resources for teaching fiction and nonfiction, take a look at these in my TpT store.