Does Nonfiction Mean True?

These discussion ideas are meant for older children. We all have some basic assumptions about the difference between the literary categories of fiction and non-fiction. But there are so many variations or lenses available when we consider the artistic intentions of both. But first, let’s look at the definitions:

Fiction: literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people

Nonfiction: prose writing that is based on facts, real events, and real people, such as biography or history

  • Why do you think it is important to know if a book is fiction or nonfiction? What might happen if someone believed that Pinocchio (for example) was true?
  • Why do you think we need and enjoy imaginary stories? Why do you think they are valuable?
  • Sometimes imaginary stories have life lessons to share. What might the story of Pinocchio teach?
  • What fiction books are you enjoying now? What about the stories seem real or possible?
  • If a nonfiction story is based on a real person, can the author make some parts up? What if they didn’t know the actual weather for an event. Is it okay if they describe a stormy sky?
  • What if a nonfiction book is based on a real person, but only tells parts of that person’s life that support a particular point of view? How is that story true? Untrue?
  • There are many advice books available, everything from how to lose weight to make lots of money or how to find the perfect spouse. What about those books may be true and trustworthy vs fiction and untrustworthy? How can you tell?