Lesson plan

Comparing Nonfiction Text Features

Not all nonfiction texts on the same topic are created equal! Using this lesson plan, your class will become familiar with nonfiction features by comparing and contrasting texts on a shared topic.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Text Features Evaluation pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Text Features Evaluation pre-lesson.

Students will be able to compare and contrast two nonfiction references on the same topic by reviewing their text features.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Hand index cards to each student and pair them as A and B partners.
  • Assign the A partners to draw a pen and B partners to draw a pencil.
  • Collect all the cards and redistribute them. Have your students compare and contrast features of the items and share their thoughts with an elbow partner.
  • Call on students to share what they said or heard to the whole class.
  • Explain that although the items are of the same type, they have different designs and may be better suited for different uses. Likewise, today's lesson compares nonfiction books on the same topic, by their text features. Nonfiction text features are distinctive traits commonly found in nonfiction texts.
(10 minutes)
  • Demonstrate a gallery walk (a preview by flipping through and noting distinctive features) through a pair of nonfiction books on a shared topic for your class.
  • Display and complete the Nonfiction Text Features Checklist in front of your students using the nonfiction book pair. Comment on the effectiveness of features and how they are used when encountered.
(10 minutes)
  • Guide your class through another preview of a nonfiction book pair on a shared topic (i.e., examine a textbook that is decades old and a new text like Kids Discover). Have them brainstorm aspects of the two texts that make one text better than the other (e.g., color, quality of the pictures, amount of text features on a page, etc.).
  • Hand out and complete one side of a class set of double-sided Nonfiction Text Features Checklists on the book pair with your students.
(10 minutes)
  • Have your students flip and complete their Nonfiction Text Features Checklists using a pair of nonfiction texts on the same topic.


  • Print out one to two pages of preselected leveled nonfiction text excerpts for students to compare. This also alleviates the need for a full class set of common topic book pairs.
  • Make multiple copies of three to four pairs of nonfiction text selections and place them at tables as stations for students to go to as centers.
  • Download and print single sheet leveled pairs of nonfiction text on common topics for students to evaluate.
  • Coordinate this lesson with a librarian and plan to teach this after the library visit where students can self-select texts on topics of their choice and reading level.


  • Students can expand their response to the "What Do You Think" question with Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How comparison details.
  • Students can write an opinion piece that describes an ultimate third supplementary book for their text pair.
  • Using a tablet or laptop, students can compare two different nonfiction internet sites on a shared topic to evaluate.
(5 minutes)
  • Show students a page from two separate nonfiction texts, each containing two or more nonfiction features.
  • Exit ticket: on a piece of scratch paper, have your class write which text is better and why. Review for student understanding.
(10 minutes)
  • Discuss: What perspectives, voices, and representations are missing from nonfiction texts compared in today's lesson?

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