Causal Argument – picklerick

Reading more nonfiction literature causes your brain to sharpen. When you read informational text, you’re usually making an effort to fully comprehend the text. Whereas when you’re reading a fiction or science fiction novel, you’re likely reading for pleasure. People who just read for fun may not realize that they are not fully comprehending the text. Public schooling often fails to teach the proper way to close read text. According to Ness (2011), students are struggling with close reading at an increasing rate. This could be caused by a few things. When kids receive summer reading, it is almost always a fiction novel. This makes it easy for the students to skim through the text, gaining little to no value or skill. Caitlin Dakin says, in her thesis paper, “It is essential in today’s educational world that teachers begin to transform their classroom instruction of fiction literature into short informational complex texts to give the students the opportunity to meet the demands of the common core learning standards.” Reading informational, nonfiction text will always beat fiction.



Dakin, C. (2013). The Effects of Comprehension Through Close Reading (Unpublished masters thesis). St. John Fisher College.

Amanda Christy Brown and Katherine Schulten. (2012, December 13). Fiction or Nonfiction? Considering the Common Core’s Emphasis on Informational Text. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from

Bartlett, B. (2014, June 20). 4 Bad Side Effects of Reading Fiction According to the 19th Century. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from

7 thoughts on “Causal Argument – picklerick”

  1. Picklerick, your sources need to be identified in an APA-style References section. More on that later.

    Meanwhile, since one of your sources is a Masters Degree dissertation not available in the Rowan library database, you’ll need to build that citation by hand. There’s help at Citation Machine (find it in the sidebar as Son of Citation Machine). Here’s a link to the very page you’ll need.

    Follow that link and fill in the blanks. Let me know in a Reply that you found this helpful, please.


  2. You’re working on a fascinating topic here, Picklerick, one in which proving anything causal will be complicated. You’re not there yet, but I applaud the effort, and I’m curious to see what you’ll discover.

    My reactions to this draft are mixed.
    1. There’s fiction and then there’s fiction. Much of it is fluffy, requiring little reader analysis or engagement. Much of it, though, is complex and layered, inviting if not demanding quite a bit of close attention for anything like successful reading. The dividing line between fiction and non-fiction, therefore, might not be as bright as your brief notes above would indicate.
    2. There are fiction readers, and then there are fiction readers. Some readers are content to skim, it’s true. But others—especially those interested in uncovering the craft—study fiction texts every bit as carefully as physicists reading each other’s papers.
    3. Now that I’ve blurred those lines, my overall impression is that for the purposes of your paper, you’ll want to NARROW and LIMIT your focus [the same thing I always say because it’s so true] to a more specific wedge of reading. In your case, judging from what I see above, you mean

    “For the purposes of classroom instructional reading designed to achieve core value academic literacy” reading nonfiction will always outperform reading fiction.

    4. Regarding “summer reading,” I would suggest that if both a novel and a nonfiction text about the D-Day invasion were assigned to students, they’d be just as likely to skim the nonfiction as the fiction, with exactly the same rationale: I won’t be expected to know everything, but if I can pick up some key facts and a sense of the “story,” I can sound sufficiently informed.
    5. We (sometimes I will speak as if you and I are co-writers, Picklerick; I hope that’s OK) need to be precise in our comparisons. Readers CAN read fiction very closely. Readers CAN skim non-fiction hoping to “get by.” In a classroom setting, teachers tend to ask different questions of their students about the different texts.
    5a. Their questions about fiction invite students to interpret what they’ve read, to respond emotionally, to speculate, to argue.
    5b. Their questions about nonfiction demand that students “stick to the facts,” report what the author said, suppress their own reactions.
    6. When Caitlin Dakin says teachers need to “transform their classroom instruction of fiction,” she means that “the demands of the common core learning standards” don’t give a crap about speculation, imagination, or emotional responses.

    How’s that for an angle? You don’t have to abandon anything you’ve done. All your preliminary work still serves a new argument. All you have to consider is whether “reading nonfiction causes your brain to sharpen” is the hypothesis you can prove. Maybe the hypothesis you can prove is that, “If we want our graduates to ABSORB THE MOST INFORMATION from what they read, to meet the Common Core requirements, then nonfiction texts are the most appropriate.” Of course, if we wanted students to ask meaningful questions, challenge the information they’re presented, or create new narratives of their own, fiction might find its way onto the curriculum.

    Are you glad I took a look at your draft and asked pertinent questions, Picklerick, or are you a little annoyed that I’m challenging the hypothesis you’re starting to feel comfortable with?

    (Your answer might depend on whether you prefer fiction or nonfiction. 🙂 )

    Reply, please, if you ever want me to annoy you again.


  3. Thanks for the reply professor. I fixed the APA-style reference section. You made great points, some that I didn’t consider when writing this. I’ll have to narrow my arguments down more to account for the blurred line between fiction and nonfiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, PR. I appreciate your quick response and the upgrading of your References section. I interpret your Reply as an invitation to continue to interfere with your efforts. But I’m much more likely to do so if you put your posts into the Feedback Please category.


      1. I’m going to take your advice and change my thesis to, “In order for students to get the most out of their academic reading and meet the Common Core requirements, nonfiction texts are the most appropriate option.”
        I think this will help me with my rebuttal assignment.


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