What Are Nonfiction Text Features

Lesson: What are nonfiction text features?
Parts of a Superhero Behavior

Grade Level: 3-5


  • Nonfiction Title: “How Do Birds Fly” by Roma Gans
  • Assessment Worksheet

Vocabulary:  Nonfiction, genre, ornithologist, migration, earth’s magnetic field

Objectives: Students will be able to,

  • Name and identify different nonfiction text features
  • Use nonfiction text features to enhance their understanding of the text

Activate Prior Knowledge:

Ask, “How can you decide if the book you are reading is nonfiction?”

Ask, “What are some features of nonfiction books?” (Possible answers: table of contents, glossary, index, headings, types of print, photographs, captions, labels, cross sections, maps, close-ups, etc.)

Have volunteers explain each of the nonfiction text features and validate their responses.

Teach: Nonfiction is a special genre or category of books that provides factual information. Nonfiction is written to develop understanding of different topics. Authors use several features in nonfiction text to facilitate reader’s understanding of the topic. Following is a list of features used in nonfiction text.

Nonfiction Text Features

  • Table of contents: The table of contents page is found at the beginning of a nonfiction book. It gives a snapshot of what’s in the book by listing all the chapters and their page numbers.
  • Glossary: A glossary is like a mini dictionary found at the end. It lists new words and their definitions in alphabetical order.
  • Index: Like the glossary, index is also found at the end of a book. It provides a detailed list of terms discussed in the book along with the page numbers. All terms appear in alphabetical order.
  • Types of Print: Authors writing nonfiction often use bold or Italics print to draw reader’s attention to important terms.
  • Photographs: Authors use photographs to help the reader see what the topic looks like.
  • Captions: A caption is a sentence that describes a picture or photograph
  • Labels: A label defines or explains the parts of a picture or diagram
  • Heading: A heading is a title appearing at the beginning of the text. Headings tell readers what the following text is going to be about.
  • Cross Section: A cross section is a diagram or picture that shows the reader what something looks like for inside.
  • Maps: Authors often use maps to help the reader find the location of something
  • Close- Ups: Close-ups help readers see things from up close or from a near distance
  • Sidebars: A sidebar is a box containing extra information that is separated from the main text. Sidebars are often used to include fun facts or additional information about the topic.

Also teach that that some forms of nonfiction writing are newspaper articles, biographies, magazines, periodicals, brochures, and text books etc.

Lesson Activity:

Introduce the nonfiction book How Do Birds Find Their Way by Roma Gans. Tell students that before writing this book, the author did a lot of research about the topic to provide correct information to the readers. Next, read the book aloud to the class.

Wrap Up: Have students share out some of the nonfiction text features they noticed in the book. Then, invite students to share some new facts they learned about bird migration.

Assessment Activity: Students will fill out the following graphic organizer based on the nonfiction text features found in the informational book read to them.

Nonfiction text features I noticed in the book

How it helped my understanding of the topic


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