Fiction, Non-Fiction, or In Between?

What kind of books do you like to read? Do you like to learn about faraway places or movie stars or how things work? What about animals or how to draw cartoons or get better at your favorite sport? If you like reading those kinds of things, then you like what’s called non-fiction.

But what about stories about make believe people and places? You know, things like the Wimpy Kid books or Nancy Drew mysteries or Sponge Bob. Parts of the stories might be true — Greg and Rowley might do the same kinds of crazy things you and your friends try, or a lighthouse might really be on that island someone in the story visits. But the story itself — the characters, what they do and what happens — all comes from the author’s imagination. Those kinds of stories are fiction.

Basically, fiction is make believe, and non-fiction is factual. And if you hear someone talking about a novel, they’re talking about fiction. Here’s a quick lesson people always seem to teach at writers’ conferences:

Fiction = Novel. Novel = Fiction.

So, you don’t ever have to say that you’re reading (or writing!) a fictional novel. The two words mean the same thing, so you can either say that you’re reading fiction or that you’re reading a novel. No need to say both.

Neither one — fiction or non-fiction — is better than the other, and lots of people — kids and adults — like to read both. That’s OK, because it helps you learn more (because, yes, you can learn things from fiction, even if it’s a made-up story). Maybe your teacher or librarian at school tells you to get a fiction and non-fiction book each week when you get to take something home. That’s a good idea, because it keeps you from locking in to only reading about a couple of favorite things and nothing else.

When you look at things from your favorite authors, does it look like they focus on fiction, or non-fiction? Or, they might write both. Mary Pope Osborn (one of my favorite authors for kids, BTW) wrote fiction for years — the Magic Tree House series. Then she started working with her husband (and later her sister) to write non-fiction books that went along with some of the novels. They’re called the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers and help explain some of the things in Jack and Annie’s MTH adventures. Pretty cool stuff.

So — here’s the question of the week. Do you like reading fiction or non-fiction better, and why? Leave a comment to share! 🙂



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