5 Non Fiction Articles to Pair with Classic High School Novels – Guide to Refresh your Teaching


Are you searching for new ways to inject some life into the teaching of your novels?

Have the staples of your curriculum grown stale? I use the pocket app to save great pieces of nonfiction that I come across.

Typically, I go back each month and revisit some old classics that get pushed further down the line with each article that I add. Here are five favorites from the last few years and some suggestions about the novels with which they can be paired. It is not an exclusive list.

As you will read, many of these articles are so well written that they can apply to a number of great novels. I encourage you to share your ideas on how they would fit into your curriculum in the comments below.

1. I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything

I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything

by C. D. Hermelin/ The Awl

Pair it with: The Catcher in the Rye

Topic: Phoniness

“A picture of me typewriting had made it to the front page of Reddit. For those who don’t know, being on the front page of Reddit is hallowed ground—the notoriety of being on the front page can launch careers, start dance crazes, inspire Hollywood…. But the overwhelming negativity towards me, and the “hipster scum” I represented, was enough to make me get up from my computer, my heart racing, my hands shaking with adrenaline.”

2. The Only Black Guy at the Indie Rock Show


by Martin Douglas/ MTV Hive

Pair it with: Frankenstein

Topic: Cultural Assimilation/ Identity

“When I listened to rock music as a kid, it often felt like I was sneaking past the guards of racial barriers and into a cool party I wasn’t invited to. But I didn’t want to feel that way. I just wanted to enjoy the music just like everybody else.”


3. Is Google Making Us Stupid: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Fahrenheit 451

by Nicholas Carr/ The Atlantic

Pair it with: Fahrenheit 451

Topic: The future of reading

“I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading.”


4. The Solitary Leaker

1984 book

by David Brooks/ The New York Times

Pair it with: 1984

Topic: Trust within a society

“Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.”


5. Our Kind of Ridiculous: Yous, Mes, and Blackness as Probable Cause

kill of mockingbird

by Kiese Laymon/ Gawker

Pair it with: To Kill a Mockingbird

Topic: Race

“If white American entitlement meant anything, it meant that no matter how patronizing, unashamed, deliberate, unintentional, poor, rich, rural, urban, ignorant, and destructive white Americans could be, black Americans were still encouraged to work for them, write to them, listen to them, talk with them, run from them, emulate them, teach them, dodge them, and ultimately thank them for not being as fucked up as they could be.”

* Warning: as you can see from the quote above, this article has some pretty explicit language.

Encouraging Students to Draw Connections Between Classic Novels and Current Events

Drawing connections between classic novels and current events is a great way to make literature relevant and engaging for students. By exploring how themes and issues from classic literature are still present in modern times, students can deepen their understanding of both the text and the world around them.

One way to encourage students to make these connections is to assign current event articles that relate to the themes or issues in the novel being studied. For example, if teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” students could read articles about racism and police brutality in modern times.

Reading Classic Literature in a Modern Way

Another approach is to have students research and present on a current event issue that relates to the novel.

For example, if studying “The Great Gatsby,” students could research and present on the wealth gap in modern society.

Teachers can also facilitate discussions in class that encourage students to draw connections between the novel and current events.

By asking open-ended questions, such as “How do the themes in the novel relate to what’s happening in the world today?” or “Can you think of any current events that relate to the issues in the novel?” teachers can prompt students to think critically and make meaningful connections.

Importance of Promoting Critical Thinking Skills Through Non-Fiction Reading

Promoting critical thinking skills is a fundamental aspect of any high school curriculum. While classic novels can serve as excellent vehicles for teaching literary analysis and interpretation, incorporating non-fiction readings can also be a powerful tool for promoting critical thinking skills in students.

Non-fiction readings allow students to engage with real-world issues and events, providing them with opportunities to think critically and develop their own perspectives on complex issues.

By pairing non-fiction readings with classic novels, teachers can encourage students to draw connections between the themes and issues presented in the literature and those in the world around them.

critical thinking

It can help students develop essential skills, such as evaluating sources, analyzing arguments, and synthesizing information.

By exposing them to a variety of non-fiction texts, teachers can help them become more effective readers, writers, and critical thinkers.

Furthermore, it can help students build their knowledge and understanding of the world, which can enhance their engagement and interest in the literature they are studying.

By providing a broader context for the themes and issues presented in classic novels, non-fiction readings can deepen students’ appreciation for the literature and help them see its relevance to their own lives.

Fostering Empathy and Understanding

In a world where different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles often clash, it is important to foster empathy and understanding in our youth. One way to achieve this is through reading literature and discussing current events in the classroom.

empathy through reading

When students read books that feature characters from diverse backgrounds or that tackle sensitive issues, it allows them to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

They can learn about experiences that are different from their own, and develop an appreciation for the perspectives of others.

This can also help to break down stereotypes and prejudices that they may have unknowingly absorbed from their surroundings.

Pairing literature with current events can further enhance this experience.

For example, reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, a classic novel that tackles racism and prejudice, while also discussing news articles about similar issues happening in the present day, can help students to make connections and deepen their understanding of a specific problem.


How Can the Teacher Utilize Non Fiction to Improve Literacy Development?

Non-fiction can be a valuable tool for teachers to improve literacy development and language skills in students.

By incorporating non-fiction texts into lesson plans, teachers can help students develop their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills.

Additionally, non-fiction can help students make real-world connections and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Teachers can also use non-fiction to teach research skills, such as how to find and evaluate sources of information.

Overall, incorporating non-fiction into lesson plans can provide a well-rounded education that prepares students for success in their academic and professional lives.

What Are the Two Main Reasons that Teachers Teach Students About Nonfiction Text Structures?

The two main reasons that teachers teach students about nonfiction text structures are to improve reading comprehension and to develop critical thinking skills.

By teaching students how to identify and analyze different text structures, they can better understand the organization and purpose of the text.

This can lead to improved comprehension and retention of information.

Understanding text structures can help students develop critical thinking skills as they analyze and evaluate the author’s message and purpose, and how the text is organized to convey that message.

How Do You Teach Non-fiction in The Classroom?

Teaching nonfiction in the classroom involves several strategies such as introducing text features, exploring text structures, providing graphic organizers, teaching note-taking skills, using real-world examples, and promoting critical thinking.

Teachers can begin by introducing nonfiction text features like headings, subheadings, captions, and boldface type.

Students can then identify the purpose of each feature and how it helps them understand the text.

Using real-world examples can also make nonfiction more engaging for students.

Teachers can use current events or real-life situations to help students see the relevance of the material.

Lastly, promoting critical thinking skills can help students to question the material and develop their own opinions.

This can be done by asking open-ended questions or encouraging students to research a topic further.

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