What is non-fiction?

Non-fiction reading
Non-fiction texts are read, studied and written throughout the primary-school years. Our parents' guide covers instruction texts, recounts, information and explanation texts, persuasive writing and argument texts and explains what you need to know to support your child.

A non-fiction text is any text that is not a story. Each year at primary school, children will focus on a range of narrative, non-fiction and poetry texts in literacy.

Non-fiction texts studied at primary school include instruction texts, recounts, information texts, explanation texts, persuasive texts, biography, journalistic writing and argument texts.

Instruction texts

An instruction text is a text such as a recipe or manual. This will include a 'You will need' list (ingredients or tools) and then numbered points on how to carry out a certain activity. They include imperative ('bossy') verbs, such as 'put', 'stick', 'stir' etc.


A recount text is a piece of writing that explains an event that has happened. A diary entry is a recount text, as is a newspaper article explaining an event that has happened. They are usually written in the past tense and include the use of time connectives.

Information texts / Non-chronological reports

An information text is a text giving information about a particular thing, for example: Ancient Egypt, recycling or volcanoes. Information texts are sometimes called non-chronological reports, because they are reporting information about something without mentioning the order in which something has happened.

Explanation texts

An explanation text is one which describes a process, for example: the water cycle, how bees make honey or how a car is made. They are usually written in the present tense, with numbered points and diagrams or pictures to make the process clear.

Persuasive texts

Persuasive texts can take a number of forms, for example: an advert persuading you to buy some chocolate, a poster encouraging people to stop smoking or a travel brochure enticing the reader to go to a particular country.

Biography and autobiography

An autobiography is someone's account of their own life; a biography is a writer's account of someone else's life (usually someone famous). Writing of biographies is usually linked to the theme the class are studying.

Journalistic writing

Children will read news reports and look at the features, such as: headlines, pictures, captions, quotations, paragraphs, formal tone, etc. They will then be asked to write their own newspaper report, usually related to a theme they are studying.

Argument texts

An argument text is a text written about a subject, where the writer is either 'for' or 'against' the subject (a pros and cons text, in other words). For example, you could write an argument text for or against zoos, smoking, school uniform or e-readers. Argument texts include facts and research and are usually written using formal language.

When studying non-fiction texts, children will usually be given a range of texts that fall within the genre of text they are studying. They will be encouraged to look at the features of these texts and how they are set out. They will then be encouraged to gather their own information and start drafting this into a similar text. Teachers will support children with the editing and re-writing process until they are ready to write their 'neat' piece of writing.