Common Core Standards: Reading and Deciphering Informational Texts in K-5 - dummies

Common Core Standards: Reading and Deciphering Informational Texts in K-5

By Jared Myracle

You’ll notice many similarities on the Common Core Standards between the reading standards for literature and the reading standards for informational texts, but it’s important to remember that the standards for informational texts are used with nonfiction materials.

Your child may easily grasp these skills and concepts when reading fictional literature, but informational texts are often more complex, and students sometimes perceive them to be less interesting because there isn’t a “story” involved. With that in mind, take a look at some of the major skills and concepts in kindergarten through Grade 5.


With adult support, kindergarten students use details from a text to successfully answer questions, ask questions of others, pinpoint the central idea(s), and identify any relationships that exist between parts of a text. They also identify unfamiliar words and attempt to understand their meaning.

When looking at a book, students are able to distinguish the parts of a book, such as the covers and internal parts of a book, along with identifying the author and/or illustrator and their contributions to the text.

Because students read informational texts to gain information on specific topics, they begin the process of identifying information that supports the author’s purpose for writing. Just as they were asked to do with literature, students compare how the same subject is addressed by different texts.

Grade 1

Students in Grade 1 continue to focus on key details and relationships between specific aspects of a text, such as how two events may be related. They also find the meanings of unfamiliar words and use specific aspects of the text, such as the table of contents, appendix, and glossary, to gather information.

Students are asked to tell the difference between what is written in the text and what is represented in illustrations. They continue to use specific details to explain how ideas are supported, along with comparing and contrasting multiple texts about similar subject matter. In Grade 1, students begin to read nonfiction texts independently at times, so be sure to monitor her understanding of the material she is reading.

Transitioning from reading fiction to nonfiction can be challenging for some students, so monitor understanding of these texts by asking questions about individuals or events mentioned in the reading.

Grade 2

Just as students do with literature in Grade 2, they use the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how to gain specific information from a text. This allows them to find the central idea(s) of a text with several paragraphs.

As they read, students explain the relationships between various ideas, events, and other aspects presented in a text, and they are able to use headings, menus, and other parts of a text to identify important information.

Because students encounter a variety of words that are specific to certain subjects, such as science or social studies, take the time to ensure that they understand the vocabulary used when referring to specific content. In some instances, students determine the purpose that an author had for writing a specific text and analyze the main ideas and arguments outlined in more than one text.

Grade 3

In Grade 3, students continue to cite textual evidence when answering questions, including how details contribute to understanding the central idea(s) and theme(s) in a text. They also continue to examine the relationships between events in a text, with a specific emphasis on the order of events and/or cause-and-effect relationships.

As they read, students expand beyond the text to include Internet-based resources, such as search engines and other online material related to the text they are reading, and they continue to use illustrations and other graphics to understand information presented in a text. Students show that they understand why sentences in a paragraph are in a certain order, and how each sentence is related to the next.

Grade 4

Students in Grade 4 continue to refer to specific textual evidence when summarizing or inferring information. They also identify central idea(s) based on specific information from the text, along with accurately summarizing information presented in a text. When reading, students are expected to identify why things occur, or need to occur, in a certain order based on their understanding of what they’ve read.

Students explain how information is organized, as it relates to the development of concepts, in a text. For example, in a social-studies class students may be asked to recognize that text is written along a chronological timeline. With some texts, students analyze similarities and differences between firsthand and secondhand accounts, which lays the foundation for evaluating the legitimacy of sources in later grades.

Students continue to examine information presented in various forms, whether in print or with a graphical representation, in order to expand their understanding of a specific topic. They also use information gathered from more than one text on a similar topic and can write or speak using that information.

Grade 5

In Grade 5, students use specific quotes to demonstrate and support their understanding of a text. They also identify at least two central ideas in a text and find information in a text that supports those ideas, along with accurately summarizing what they’ve read. Students are asked to describe the connections and relationships among multiple aspects of a text.

For example, students may be asked to explain why two historical events are related. Students compare the organization of information and how topics are presented in more than one text, along with being able to successfully navigate sources to find a specific piece of needed information. Doing so allows them to show how evidence supports specific ideas and to use evidence from multiple sources.