BLOGS  >  NOVEMBER 13, 2023

Pair The Nocturnals Fiction and Nonfiction: A Staple Lesson for Elementary Teachers


How had I NOT heard of The Nocturnals series by Tracey Hecht? It’s an early reader and middle grade reading adventure that pairs fiction and nonfiction science books with incredible resources and lovable character friends – Dawn, the red fox; Tobin, the pangolin; and Bismark, the sugar glider. While I consider myself well-versed in the latest elementary science books and am always in search of the best series with classroom resources, I somehow missed The Nocturnals, but you won’t!

Why Choose The Nocturnals

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recommends connecting fiction and nonfiction texts as part of the staple lessons in elementary school. As teachers, we do this to build background knowledge, develop reading skills, and improve fact analysis and comprehension while increasing students’ overall enjoyment of reading. 

The Nocturnals is a series that grows with the reader. At the Grow and Read level, The Slithery Shakedown provides readers with short sentences, a larger font, and colorful images to draw them in. While the text is simple, the vocabulary will stretch your readers with Dawn snarling, Tobin twirling, and Bismark scurrying. It’s a series that can be read aloud to the whole class, shared in small groups, or read independently. 

The Nocturnals middle grade series, starting with The Mysterious Abductions, will fly off shelves in the classroom or school library! Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark are solid characters whose actions are easy to visualize as they solve mysteries and grow friendships. Colorful illustrations start each chapter (averaging five pages), making it a great choice for reluctant readers. Tracey has crafted her characters so well that students will be rooting for them through the final pages, searching for more adventures, or even starting to research the unique animals on their own! 

Simple Pairing of Fiction and Nonfiction Texts 

Pairing fiction and nonfiction texts is a staple lesson for elementary teachers. The Nocturnals nonfiction books creatively handle the pairing work for you. Not only do they include the text features we need to teach and use, but they weave in a fictional character narrative that sets them apart from other pairings. 

The Nocturnals Presents Nighttime Animals: Awesome Features & Surprising Adaptations (which can pair with The Slithery Shakedown) has the three main characters introduce this nonfiction book, shares fun facts in engaging sidebars, and wraps up chapters in a playful, informative way. 

The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals  (which can pair with The Mysterious Abductions) has similar features but provides readers with a much larger depth of information. Colorful photos, an animal feature guide, fun facts, night notes, an incredible index, and research tips fill this gem of a resource! Our faithful characters continue to liven the pages with their personal connections to the animal information being shared, making this pairing of The Nocturnals seamless. 

Be sure to check out for more information on popular titles and series like The Nocturnals and teacher resources to use with them. You won’t be disappointed by the breadth of content at your fingertips!

Lara Ivey
Veteran Educator

Lara Ivey is a veteran educator and has spent the last ten years as a librarian in Chesterfield, Virginia. She earned her MEd in School Librarianship from Longwood University in 2015. Before joining the library world, she taught elementary students for 20 years, but this year she leaped to middle school to share her love of books and research with tweens and teens. She is a member of the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL), a recent Regional Director, and the 2018 Librarian of the Year for VAASL.

Lara is passionate about using literature and technology to develop learners’ 21st-century skills. When she’s not reading hot new titles discovered on social media and at her local independent bookshop, Lara spends time with her firefighter husband, two children, and dogs…usually playing a game! 

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