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Nonfiction Reading Practice, Grade 4 Review by Cindy West

Nonfiction Reading Practice, Grade 4
By Kathleen McFarren
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940-5746

If you're concerned about your child's reading comprehension or are simply searching for some comprehension practice, particularly of nonfiction material, the exercises in this book may interest you. They might also interest you as preparation for SAT-style tests. With information about things such as the Internet, Lewis and Clark, owning a business, Mount Rushmore, and Beethoven, the assignments should interest both boys and girls.

Geared toward a fourth grade reading level, the book includes 20 nonfiction topics with three stories each. The three stories within each topic progress in difficulty. Level one readings are typically the shortest, with less difficult vocabulary and easier information about the subject. Level two steps up the length, vocabulary, and amount of information, while level three is the most difficult. None of the stories are longer than one page.

Each story is followed by five multiple choice questions (with bubbles to fill in) and one bonus question. The multiple choice questions require the student to complete sentences, find information directly from the text, and make inferences. The bonus questions ask the student to do such tasks as explaining a concept in his/her own words, drawing a picture of what was described, or giving reasons a particular thing is important.

At the beginning of each of the 20 topic sections, you'll find a teacher sheet with vocabulary that should be introduced before the stories are read. Following the vocabulary page is a full-page visual to help you introduce the topic. For instance, a diagram of child and adult teeth begins the section on teeth, while a labeled picture of a stage and actors is found at the beginning of the section on acting.

Black-and-white pictures or diagrams are included with each of the 60 stories as well. These not only add to the visual interest of the page, but also help in comprehending the information. The bonus six-page section of graphic organizers can be used to help the child think through the readings. The sequence chart can help a student think through a sequence of events, and the multi-section web can help the student pinpoint main ideas. A famous person bio, KWL chart, outline and vocabulary page are also included. A small how-to section is provided for the teacher, and an answer key to all questions is found in the back of the book.

In a section called "Floating Continents," there is much reference to "millions of years." Since it isn't necessary to complete the book in order, there would be no harm in leaving out this section entirely. In that case, the book would still include 19 sections, or 57 stories and activities.

The book was obviously written with the classroom teacher in mind, as there are several references about how to implement the activities with a full class. However, the book would be very easy to implement in a homeschool. I found the stories and drawings to be very appropriate for fourth grade level in their interest and level of information taught. My daughter didn't find the amount of reading or activities to be overwhelming, and there was very little preparation required on my part. This book is a keeper in our homeschool!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008