Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction Books: Part 3 A

This is the third post in a three four post series highlighting how to use more nonfiction in the primary/early intermediate classroom. The first two posts can be found here:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

The intention with each of these posts is to share a practical “how to” list of how to read more, celebrate more and use more nonfiction picture books in our classrooms. For reference, last year I taught a Grade 2/3/4 class.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together

3 A: Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read This post will touch on these questions:

  • How to generate excitement about nonfiction texts?
  • What are some ways to get students reading more nonfiction books?

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

One of the best ways to create a buzz about nonfiction texts is to make authentic connections with the authors, illustrators and photographers that are making the books we love to read! We read a lot of nonfiction titles in my classroom and its is always exciting for the children to be able to communicate with the people behind the books that we have loved and shared together.

I would like to share three of our important connections here.

FirstNic Bishop.

When I had the opportunity (thanks Adam Shaffer) to introduce author and photographer Nic Bishop at this year’s Western Washington’s Children Literature ConferenceI knew that my students had to be part of the presentation. We spent time with Nic Bishop books (titles like Butterflies and Moths, Lizards, Spiders, Frogs, and Snakes). I asked the children to explore the books with these questions in mind:

  • How were these photographs taken?
  • What skills (besides photography) would the photographer need?
  • What would be the rewards in this kind of work?
  • What would be the challenges?

I then made a slide show that showcased some of their answers. The children were thrilled that they had “come with me” to help with the introduction! Here are a few photos that were part of the slide show.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Second, with author Melissa Stewart.

We took forever to read No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young (with illustrations by Nicole Wong) We had to stop to talk, to write, to talk some more. So much learning in this book! It was one of our favourite read alouds of the year! A very special thing happened when I tweeted a picture of one child’s picture and writing to Melissa. She shared this on her blog, Celebrate Science. One little boy now has dreams of being an illustrator for nonfiction picture books!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That Students were so excited to see a classmate’s work on a real author’s blog! It was such a surprise to see his work up on the big screen!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

And third, with author Deborah Heiligman.

Another one of our very favourite read alouds this year was The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I shared all of our learning and connections with Deborah in this post on my classroom blog Curiosity Racers: For the Love of Math It is worth reading to see how very engaged my students were with this book and to figure out just what those cards they are holding are all about!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Provide time to read nonfiction books

Of course, with many nonfiction books in the room and lots of book talking highlighting nonfiction texts, many students are already reading nonfiction books.  To ensure that all students were having the opportunity to be making nonfiction a choice and having guidance in choosing nonfiction texts, we decided to set aside a specific amount of time once a week (we grew it to 20 minutes and some kids read longer) and called it Nonfiction Reading Day. Of course, many children read nonfiction daily. But after a few weeks of honouring nonfiction reading with a special time, more children began choosing nonfiction more often throughout the week.

On Tuesday (the day we chose) I made sure to book talk nonfiction titles and my Teacher Librarian (who is in the room with me for every Reading Workshop)and I help students select nonfiction books that are a good match for them in terms of reading and interest level.

A great way to introduce more titles is also through book sharing circles. I group children into small groups of 6-8 students and have enough for 2-3 books per child. Every few minutes, we pass the books to our left and have a small amount of time to explore the titles just passed to us. At the end, we place all of the books in the center of the circle and students have a chance to share which books would be their first choices to read “next.” These conversations help to further promote the excitement about the books and invariably, many of these books are nabbed as students head off to read.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

On Nonfiction Reading Day, we acknowledge that the volume in the room will be noisier than our usual independent reading. It is hard to stay quiet when we read nonfiction because there is just too much that is too tempting to share. Many students also love buddy reading with a nonfiction text. I do specific mini-lessons with some ideas about how to make this go well.

Many days, we gather back to the carpet and sit knee to knee with a partner or a trio and share highlights from our nonfiction reading that day. Students are encouraged to ask questions and share their learning. We have a chart that we have created together in the room with some prompts to help out. A few examples:

  • Share a favourite illustration or photograph and explain what is significant about it
  • Read aloud a particularly interesting part and ask your partner if they have any questions about what you read.
  • Share something new that you learned.
  • Share a fact that was confirmed for you.
  • Talk about something you still don’t understand or have further questions about.
  • Give some reasons why someone might be interested in this title.

Time to read is a huge piece of generating excitement about nonfiction texts. Without this time to self-select titles, explore a variety of texts, talk about what we are reading and actually sustained time to read, our love for nonfiction won’t grow at the rate it does with all of these things in place.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Share the #NFbooklove!

I love to welcome volunteers into my classroom during Reading Workshop. Often, when students get to choose which book to read to a volunteer, they choose a nonfiction text we have shared together!  This picture below is very special. My student, who dreams of becoming a doctor is reading Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman to our volunteer who is currently applying to medical schools. I shared highlights of the conversations about this book in my classroom here.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

This picture was taken during the last week of school. My student is reading A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke to a guest visiting our room. She chose this from our Favourite Read Alouds bin. Why so significant? This was the first nonfiction read aloud I shared with my class back in September! Truly a testament to the joy these books bring to us.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Up next? Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together – – > 3 B: Reading and working with the texts 

Please continue the nonfiction conversation with me. I welcome any questions or feedback in the comments section :-)

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four “finally found” titles

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014This week I want to share four titles that have nothing in common beyond their nonfiction status except that all four of them are books I have been dying to read and have, finally, FOUND!

If you haven’t discovered these titles yet, I pass on high recommendations! These are must reads.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Medal

My local bookstore seemed to always be out of copies of this beautiful title but I finally found it at my local public library. Now I see not only why this was an award winning title, but also why so many raved about how amazing it is! Susan L. Roth‘s collage images are stunning and I love the alternate orientation of the book – it is shared vertically rather than horizontally. But, it is, of course, the story that is so important. So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops. Both captive bred parrots and wild flocks are being supported by the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program.

This book has many extras in the final pages to support further learning:

  • an extensive Afterward with full colour photographs of the different birds discussed in this book and more information about the recovery program.
  • a timeline of important dates
  • a list of the author’s sources

 Parrots over Puerto Rico  NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (published in 2013)

This cover has been staring at me from various book lists and blogs and finally, just recently, my requested copy arrived from the library! I immediately included it on this list of Swoon Worthy Nonfiction titles because the illustrations beautifully narrate a story all their own. Brief and lyrical text tells the story of Mandela’s life and his determination to see his people live in a free South Africa where apartheid was abolished. Kadir Nelson‘s back pages flush out details of the story he shared. A book guaranteed to get students talking about Mandela, his inspiration and his leadership.

Nelson Mandela NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston with collages by Susan L. Roth (published in 2011)

This book recently came onto my radar. This was a title by Dianna Aston that I didn’t know and art by Susan L. Roth? I had to find it. Luckily our public library had a copy for me to request! I knew nothing of this story of Simon Rodia (called Uncle Sam) and his big dream that resulted in the spectacular Watts Towers (up to 100 feet high in parts) in Los Angeles. Absolutely stunning folk art that you can’t imagine until you see it. More information can be found on this website. It’s worth taking a peek to see what the towers actually look like.

The end pages include close up photographs of tower sections. There is also an author’s note that gives more details about Simon Rodia and his work. Building these towers took thirty-four years and was done completely alone without even a ladder or any drawings/plans. There is also a step by step guide to creating your own Watts Towers for children to try.

Dream Something Big NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White (published in 2011)

Ape by this author/illustrator team is one of my all time favourite nonfiction read alouds. Next year, I am looping my Grade 2/3/4 class into a Grade 3/4 class and will have many of the same students. Students expressed a lot of curiosity and interest about endangered animals and threats to animal populations which is related to the habitat and communities strand of the Grade 4 Science curriculum.

This book by Jenkins and White introduces students to a huge variety of endangered and extinct animals. With some creatures, like the tiger, more details are provided about the animal including reasons for its vulnerable status. Definite themes come through about why certain populations are threatened: lack of space, destruction of habitat, invasive non-native predators, climate change and exposure to medicine administered to another species. Again, there is hope. Stories are shared of animals that were close to extinction and now have healthy populations – like the American bison. There is an index in the back and a list of online resources to find out more about what animals are endangered and what organizations exist that are trying to protect them.

This is a title I will be purchasing for our class collection.

Can we Save the Tiger? NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 87/65 complete! If I were counting (and I am), I would announce that that is 22 books over my goal and it’s still July!

This week, I have had some wonderful conversations via twitter with Alyson Beecher who blogs at Kid Lit Frenzy and author Melissa Stewart about sharing nonfiction with our students. This inspired me to write a series of posts sharing my passion for nonfiction books. The first two of three posts are complete and linked here if you haven’t had a chance to check them out. I would love any feedback from this #nfpb2014 community who shares such #NFbooklove!

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

Coming soon: Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together

 

Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction Books: Part 2

This post is part of a 3 part series about using more nonfiction titles in our Elementary classrooms. A link to the first post is included here:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

The intention with each of these posts is to share a practical “how to” list of how to read more, celebrate more and use more nonfiction picture books in the late primary/early intermediate classroom. For reference, last year I taught a Grade 2/3/4 class.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

The message of this post is simple: read more nonfiction titles aloud more often!

Wanting to do that is the easy part. Finding the time in our busy schedules is another thing! Here is how I have managed to find more time to share more nonfiction in my classroom.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction Books: Part 2  The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

Set aside designated time to read nonfiction titles 

Block nonfiction read aloud into your weekly schedule. Don’t trust that you will alternate fiction and nonfiction read alouds. Sharing picture books and poetry and novels needs designated time as well. If you are already doing those things well, you see many benefits to reading fiction aloud and you won’t want to give it up. When you actually schedule time to read aloud nonfiction, it won’t be instead of anything else. Nonfiction can play the starring role. I have two 40 minute blocks of time a week for nonfiction read aloud. This is at minimum – I often fit more time in during other parts of the week.

Of course, that still doesn’t answer this question: What are things you might give up in your schedule to fit in more nonfiction time? I always think we can be strategic to find time for things that we value. Thinking about some of these things might help.

  • Build oral language skills (listening, speaking, retelling, summarizing, asking questions, etc. ) during your read aloud session. The listening and speaking component of Language Arts needs dedicated time in our schedules. Why not build a lot of these skills while sharing nonfiction titles? We often use nonfiction read aloud time to really develop these skills. This is when we do much of our “turn and talk” time with a partner or a small group. Students have the chance to share out to the whole group, listen attentively, build on other comments or questions and practice predicting and inferring. We also work on summarizing, listening for specific information and asking questions. All of this talk time to review makes a huge difference in how much information students recall. I have the students do some of the following things with their “turn and talk” partner or small group as we work through a nonfiction title over multiple read aloud sessions:
  1. Share what you already know about this topic. Sometimes I have the students share facts (questions are okay too) back and forth one fact at a time to really practice turn taking. For example, if we are going to read a book about elephants, the exchange might sound something like “They are huge” “They live in Africa” “They have a trunk” “They use their trunk to drink” “Is their trunk like a nose? Do they even have a nose?” “Their skin is wrinkly and grey” “I think they eat leaves”
  2. Talk about some things you are wondering.
  3. Answer specific questions based on an image on the page i.e. Look at this picture of the hippo in the water, why do you think hippos spend so much time in the water?
  4. List at least 3 (or more) new facts we learned yesterday about __________ (refer to specific section of the book)
  5. What is the most interesting thing you have learned so far?
  6. Explain _________ to your partner. Partners, was any important part missed? For example: Explain the differences we have learned about crocodiles and alligators.
  7. What are you hoping we will still find out?
  8. Listen to the next heading (or chapter title) what do you think we might read about in this section?
  9. Which of our questions never got answered?
  • Use your nonfiction read alouds to support curricular themes in science and social studies. This is huge. I launch every unit/theme with a book, often multiple books! Enhance the rich learning that nonfiction titles help us support through discussion, reflection writing, vocabulary building and opportunities to retell and summarize our new learning in a variety of ways.

Here are some examples of the “work” we do with nonfiction titles in my classroom. We are reading great books and covering curriculum!

After reading When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island by Celia Godkin and some sections from a variety of nonfiction books about volcanoes, students completed a labelled diagram of the parts of the volcano.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

We then completed a paper bag volcano experiment where small groups had to follow a series of oral and posted instructions.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

As we read, we keep track of questions we are wondering so we can revisit as we read and when we are finished the story. Students love to notice, “Now we know the answer to that one!” Reading No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young (with illustrations by Nicole Wong) took us multiple read aloud sessions. There was so much to learn in this book!

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

I love when another adult can work collaboratively in the room with me. As we read aloud, we ask the children to provide us with any key words from the text after every few pages and one of us notes them down on chart paper. Both of us can then circulate during “turn and talk time” instead of one person trying to balance all of the pieces of guiding the lesson. These key words help the students when they are doing reflective or summary writing.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

We also often list questions from the students during the read aloud and then code them when we are finished reading. Did our questions get answered? Do we need to do some research? Or can we infer to figure out the answer. R = Research I = Infer FO= Found Out If we want students to do writing, we might provide prompts like those listed below and have them look at our questions on chart paper to help guide their responses.

  • I discovered . . .
  • We found out that . . .
  • Now that I know _________, I think ___________
  • I am still wondering . . .
  • I still have some questions.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

Sometimes, my Resource Teacher (RT) comes into support writing when we have already read a story aloud and done a lot of the thinking work. I have different students take turns summarizing what happened in the book. This allows the RT to be caught up with the information and provides the opportunities for different students to practice summarizing and sharing key points.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

One of our favourite activities to do with nonfiction titles (especially if we are reading more than one text on the topic) is to fill out a Knew/New Chart. This idea is from Adrienne Gear and her Nonfiction Reading Power book (which is amazing if you don’t have it!) We filled out this chart after reading both Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret and The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

Read aloud some more!

Get creative about using nonfiction titles throughout your week. It’s easy to find ways to share more nonfiction titles to support things you are already doing.

  • Use specific nonfiction titles for those ten to fifteen minute times that happen upon you in the classroom. Kids actually cleaned up and are ready before the bell? The presentation is late in the gym? The play finished early? Use that “found time” to share nonfiction titles. I always have two or three titles in a bin beside our carpet area ready to do just that. Many of these books can be shared a page at a time with lots of success. Some of my favourites for this purpose? Titles by Steve Jenkins feature big here!

Found Time? Read some nonfiction! The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

  • Model ways to buddy read with nonfiction titles. Are your kids big buddy readers to a younger class? I like to model how to share various books with my students so their buddy reading time is more successful and fun. I often choose nonfiction titles to do this. First, I get to share these as read alouds and then my students, in turn, share them. My favourites for this purpose?

Nonfiction Titles perfect for buddy reading The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

  • Inspire an art project! Launch an art project with a nonfiction title. Some of my favourite books to do just that:

Use nonfiction to inspire an art project The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

A few recent of art projects inspired by nonfiction books.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

This image (above) was complimented by Nicola Davies author of One Tiny Turtle (that inspired this book) Below some students are painting their turtles.

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

Teaching with a Passion for nonfiction: Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

And how can I end this post without sharing some of my very favourite nonfiction to read aloud? Here are some titles that I have used with a lot of success in my primary/early intermediate classroom. Rich, rich learning opportunities!

 Fantastic Nonfiction to read aloud Part 2 The importance of the nonfiction read aloud There's a Book for That

I know there are many teachers out there doing amazing things with nonfiction texts in their classroom. This post is hardly a comprehensive list of everything that can be done with the read aloud and is not intended to touch on how to teach specific nonfiction genres. Please share your own ideas and links in the comment section! Let’s continue the nonfiction conversation.

Next post? Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together 

3A Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read

 

Monday July 28th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

My favourite picture books of the week are all kinds of amazing! I figured since I didn’t share any last week, highlighting a number of them this week will be okay!

Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann

Lyla Browning is different and when you are having a bunch of girls to a birthday party, that doesn’t seem like a good thing. As Ginger’s party progresses, it turns out that in close proximity, true colours shine through. And some seem to be shining a little more brightly after all. Lovely story about choosing friends for how they make you feel.

Two Speckled Eggs #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry 

A cute little story about having friends and being part of a community. An ideal story time title for younger students.

 Turtle Island #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM written by Elizabeth Bluemle with illustrations by G. Brian Karas

I adore any illustrations from G.Brian Karas and this rainy journey through the city has many charming images. But the rhythm of the text makes this book a delightful read aloud! It would be a book you want to practice before reading aloud so that it can be delivered with all of the drama it deserves. Lots of fun!

Tap tap Boom Boom #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Knock Knock My Dad’s Dream for Me written by Daniel Beaty with illustrations by Bryan Collier

Made me cry. What a story of loss and hope, upset and deep love in 32 beautiful pages.

Knock Knock #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Captain Cat by Inga Moore

Gorgeous cover and illustrations. While I don’t necessarily love this story, I can see this being such a popular book for students to read and enjoy independently or with a buddy. A longer story perfect for upper primary students. And the rat chase is lots of fun!

Captain Cat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

You are Stardust written by Elin Kelsey with illustrations by Soyeon Kim

Simply breathtaking illustrations. The message is a huge one – every living thing is connected – in perfect, child friendly text. Beautiful to read over and over – to savour the art and let the words swirl around.

 You Are StarDust #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Julia, Child written by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Julie Morstad 

This is kind of a cheeky little book. Pay attention reader. The title is not Julia Child but Julia, Child. Yes, we see a little girl in an apron surrounded by cooking utensils, herbs and berries. Yes, this book is inspired by the idea of Julia Child and her passion for food and cooking. But this is hardly a biography. This is a playful book, full of joy and friends and butter. The message? Hang on to the best parts of being a child. For those adults who need some help with this, recipes are adjusted accordingly.

 Julia, Child #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Owl and the Pussy Cat written by Edward Lear with illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch  

This was a gift for my husband who loves this poem and used to recite it to our children often when they were little. He also loves illustrator Stéphane Jorisch so it was a must. Just a beautiful book to treasure.

 The Owl and the Pussycat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Wow of the week:

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

This book was on my picture book wish list. I am not supposed to be book shopping. But I happened to find a little money tucked away in a bag I hadn’t used and found money should be for wishes, don’t you think? Anyway this title is now mine!

I absolutely adore it for so very many reasons. I have favourite pages, favourite series of illustrations and am completely enchanted by the green grass that we see one night at dusk. Wow. And then there is the story. A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connection to family – Ojiichan (Grandfather) in Japan who played Second Violin in front of the Imperial Family and his influence on little Hana who wants to play the violin too. Hana enters a talent contest. Little girl with medium sized violin walks out onto the huge stage. I dare you not to hold your breath! What happens when she begins to play is pure delight and probably not at all what you are thinking. Suki’s Kimono by Uegaki is a favourite picture book on our family bookshelf. This book will sit, also beloved, one space over.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

I also read lots of great nonfiction that I will highlight on Wednesday’s #nfpb2014 post

I finished two novels:

Son by Lois Lowry

The fourth and final title in The Giver books. As I was reading it, I wasn’t loving it, yet I just couldn’t get the story out of my head. If you have read all of the other titles, yes, read it. I’m still deciding what I think. One thing bothered me and so . . .

SON #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrara

I was quite charmed by this story. And oh so happy that it was written. So many of my students  are impacted by poverty in so many ways. In our community, it is just the norm. So there isn’t a lot of judgement. But I remember once one of my students was going to move to a community where low income didn’t define the community in general. She was bright and spunky and didn’t miss a thing. I knew she was going to be okay but I worried about the getting there to that place of okay. In this book, Star Mackie moves to California and she is the girl from the trailer park. Standing out for something that doesn’t even seem to be about her. I love Star’s stubborn streak, her voice and her passion for the written word. I love how friendship and family dynamics are explored. A middle grade novel that is really going to resonate with readers.

Ironically, just as I finished this review, my eleven year old (I gave her this book to read this morning) came charging into my room.

“Mom! It’s not long enough! Is there a sequel? I can’t wait for it. My favourite characters are . .  ” Natter, natter, natter. Yep, the perfect book for middle grader readers!

 Hope is a Ferris Wheel #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a huge, huge pile of books – holds that have all arrived at once. Top of the pile?  Winger by Andrew Smith

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 53/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 363/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 86/65 complete

 

Celebration: Seven Scenes of Summer

Thank you to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I treasure this #celebratelu community who always find moments of gratitude in our busy weeks.

celebrate link up

I didn’t get to share a celebration post last week because we were away on a family holiday. It was time with Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and cousins. Walks and sorbet cones. Chasing each other around the lake. Leaping into the pool. Reading for hours.

I celebrate these seven scenes of summer and all of the memories that each of them hold.

Happening upon little critters we don’t see in our area. In Vancouver it is all about the grey squirrel (and we aren’t exactly fans . . . ). But cute little chipmunks are worth stopping to quietly watch.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

Exploring with cousins. There are six kids all born within 38 months of each other. They loved running ahead of parents as we went walking both near and far from where we were staying. These next two pictures are taken at the Othello tunnels near Hope, B.C.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

Spectacular wild water.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

There is something about walking out on a long deck at the lake. Contemplative thinking. Time slows down.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

We also found smaller docks on smaller lakes and sat and read with dragonflies zooming about everywhere.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

A forest walk near yet another lake led to this discovery.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

Of course I had to share this picture with Barbara O’Connor. If you have read The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis, you’ll know why.

Goodnight lake. Evening walks were always beautiful.

 Celebration Seven Scenes of Summer

What are you celebrating this week? I hope some walks in some beautiful places will be part of your week.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1

I recently had a conversation with author Melissa Stewart about sharing nonfiction titles in the classroom. We were discussing ways to introduce more nonfiction titles to our young learners.

I started thinking about some of the things I do, looked back through blog posts and classroom photos and realized that I was potentially going to write one of the longest blog posts ever written! For ease of reading (and writing!), I have broken things up into three distinct posts and will share these over the next week:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together (Updated: this post is now split into 2 parts)

3A Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read

The intention with each of these posts is to share a practical “how to” list of how to read more, celebrate more and use more nonfiction picture books in the late primary/early intermediate classroom. For reference, last year I taught a Grade 2/3/4 class.

Always, my goal is to increase an interest in and a love of nonfiction reading. I am sure that many of you are already doing many of these things – probably many of them differently and better than me! But it is always informative to read about what is happening in other classrooms to help us think more about what is happening in our own. Please feel free to offer suggestions and ideas in the comments.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Know your books.

There are so many fantastic nonfiction titles being published and keeping current is important if we want to nurture a love of nonfiction in our students. One of the biggest issues for teachers wanting to share more nonfiction with their students is where to begin. What books are out there? Are they a good fit for specific grades/readers/interest levels? What books are wonderful read alouds? Which books are ideal for independent reading at different reading and interest levels?

It is hard to know where to start. Best piece of advice – start with the educators, authors and illustrators who have not only started but are immersed in the land of nonfiction books. Let their passion and knowledge inspire and inform your choices.

  • Read blogs (see a list of recommendations at the bottom of this post)
  • Check out the new titles in your favourite bookstore and public library.
  • Pay attention to best of lists (see below) and award winners (again see below).
  • If you are on Pinterest, follow boards that highlight nonfiction titles

Read nonfiction picture books for your own enjoyment.

We are passionate about titles that we have read and enjoyed. Set a goal to read more nonfiction titles and you won’t be able to resist sharing. One of the best things I did was join Alyson Beecher‘s nonfiction picture book challenge last year. Alyson challenged educators to read more nonfiction picture books and share updates by participating in the #nfpb20i4 (this year’s twitter hashtag) meme. Here is a link to Alyson’s challenge for 2014. The best thing about participating in this challenge is being part of a reading community who is excited and passionate to share nonfiction titles with students and educators.

Bring these books into the classroom!

Children need to look up and find nonfiction titles in their learning environment, not just associate nonfiction with one section of the library where you go to learn research skills. I regularly rotate nonfiction from the library into my classroom displays. But I also purchase new nonfiction titles for our classroom collection. When I buy new books, I am conscious of making sure I have both fiction and nonfiction titles. Sometimes I go shopping strictly to add new nonfiction books that represent current student interests. Students will often ask me to find more titles about a particular topic or “a book that is like ________”(some current favourite). In my classroom this year, there was a lot of interest in insects, gardens and life in the ocean. I keep a little notebook full of sticky note requests and take it with me when I go book shopping. Often I take photos of a book shopping spree so these pictures help illustrate the balance in my book purchases.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That Book talk nonfiction books.

I keep a basket of books to book talk by my chair at our carpet area. The students know that they aren’t supposed to peek and what is in the basket is always a source of anticipation and excitement. There are always fiction and nonfiction books in this basket so that I ensure I am giving equal “rave about/celebrate” talks to both genres. On certain days I will just book talk some new nonfiction. Other days I book talk a variety of titles. The consistent thing, I am book talking every day. If I have limited time, I set a timer and grab a pile and challenge myself to “sell” those books before the timer goes off. The students think this is hilarious. I think it is highly effective because about 95% of the time all of the books have been nabbed and landed in student book boxes or in reader’s hands by the time I am finished.

What do I highlight when I book talk nonfiction titles? Some of these things (depending on time available and purpose)

  • information about the author and illustrator/photographer: What motivated them to write the book? Have we read their work before?
  • some of the features in the book i.e. maps, timelines, close up photography, etc. I also use this time, when possible to review how to use some of the features in the book. For example, I might be sharing a book about grasshoppers. I will wonder aloud how high they can jump. I then ask students about how I might find that information. They might suggest the index, table of contents or page headings. We would go through the process of actually looking to see if we could find the answer to my question.
  • ways to interact with the book i.e.  skipping to a life cycle chart as an overview of the stages of life before reading sections in more detail
  • ways to buddy read a title (i.e. how to take turns reading sections/what kind of questions that might be asked, turn taking looking up words in the glossary, etc.)
  • suggestions of other books in the room on the same topic/theme or asking students if they can think of any other books in the room on same topic (as they get to know our library better I do this more and more)

I also might

  • read aloud an interesting fact or two
  • share my favourite photo/illustration and ask a few questions about it
  • “quiz” the students and take guesses before sharing information in the book i.e. “Does anyone want to guess how long a mountain gorilla lives in the wild?”
  • read aloud a passage that reinforces something we have just learned so that students know that they can increase their knowledge on a topic we already know something about

Think about your book displays

I have a shelf of nonfiction titles right beside our carpet area where we gather for many lessons and read alouds. I believe that proximity leads to curiosity so I was strategic about placing these titles close. This photo was taken early in the year when I was still bringing titles out to book talk. Now, the bins have many more titles and have been rearranged a little bit to reflect interests.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

I also use a tiny bulletin board in another area of the classroom to display the book covers of the nonfiction books we are in the middle of reading or have just finished. Because we do so much reading, writing and talking about these titles, I like highlighting the covers in a place of importance.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

I also have a display stand of nonfiction titles where I can display books with the covers facing out. It sits beside an identical stand of fiction picture books. This is deliberate – to convey the message to students that we read widely – choosing both fiction and nonfiction titles. (Sorry don’t have a photo of these displays)

Also near the carpet area is an every changing book display of books from the classroom and school library that we have recently read or book talked. As you can see in the photo below, both fiction and nonfiction feature prominently. We know from our own reactions when we walk into a library space that our eye is drawn to books that are displayed covers out. Be conscious of what students see when they look around the classroom.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

My students also see that I have bins dedicated to nonfiction titles in my own teaching areas. They get excited about peeking into these bins and making read aloud requests.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

One of my favourite memories of this school year was after we read Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman Later, I found one of my students snooping through my Picture Book Biography bin. “Do you have any more of those girls can’t or people can’t kind of books?” she asked. Of course, I did. We went on to read Every Day is Malala Day and our discussions and learning continued.

Every Day is Malala Day Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

Further reading/information:

Blogs that highlight a lot of nonfiction titles:

KidLitFrenzy and all of the blogs that regularly participate in the #nfpb2014 challenge. All of my posts from 2014 are here and from 2013, here.

The Nonfiction Detectives

Celebrate Science

Librarian’s Quest

Delightful Children’s Books

Best of Lists:

The Nerdy Book Club: Nonfiction Picture Book Winners:  2013 winners

School Library Journal’s Best Nonfiction of the year: Here is the 2013 list

Waking Brain Cell’s best nonfiction list: Top 20 2013 titles 

Awards:

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

Cook Prize (STEM) Award 

Pinterest boards featuring nonfiction picture books:

My boards: Nonfiction and Wishlist: nonfiction picture books

2014 Best Children’s Nonfiction by Tasha Saecker

Best Non-fiction for Kids by Pragmatic Mom

Great Nonfiction for Kids by Choice Literacy

Melissa Stewart has started a board that highlights blogs that share lots of nonfiction: Blogs Worth Reading

Some posts on my blog which feature a number of favourite nonfiction titles:

Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

If you are a blogging teacher or a reader of blogs consider following and participating in the #nfpb2014 hashtag and link up on the blog KidLit Frenzy every Wednesday. There is also a Nonfiction 10 for 10  blogging event that has run for the last two years in February. This is hosted by Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge. Follow on twitter with the #nf10for10 hashtag. My #nf10for10 post this year was The Wonder of Women. It featured 10 picture book biographies about women in history.

I am passionate about sharing lots of nonfiction titles with my students and increasing their excitement about reading nonfiction books.  I welcome any feedback. In particular, please feel free to suggest favourite blogs, lists and Pinterest boards that others might enjoy.

Happy nonfiction reading!

Next post? Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

 

 

 

 

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

I am a huge fan of nonfiction picture books in our Elementary classrooms. They are the jumping off point into deep, deep learning. But it is not just the learning that infuses these pages, it is also the beauty of the images that helps lure readers in.

Reasons for nonfiction read alouds? There are many: opportunity for rich discussion, shared learning experiences, new information conveyed, etc. But there is also the visual treat that so many titles provide. The inspiration to wonder, to marvel and to be in awe of our world.

For some students, just the lure of new knowledge is the gateway to reading fantastic nonfiction titles, others need a little nudge. Something beautiful . . .

I have a few students who resist picking up nonfiction titles without some persuasion. I try to entice them with the amazing facts that they might learn. Thinking of a few students in particular, I realize I have been approaching it all wrong. With these children, I should be starting with the images and let them work their magic. Many of our visual learners begin with the illustrations. They become lost in the pictures and then begin reading to answer the questions that start to form.

Do I have enough nonfiction picture books in my collection (or on my wish lists) for these readers?

I started a list. And then I thought I should share . . . .

Each of these titles has made me stop and stare.  Here are 25 of the most gorgeous nonfiction titles out there – absolutely swoon worthy, in my opinion :-)

Learn more about the Natural World:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

An Egg is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Over and Under the Snow written by the Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. (Note: This title is actually fiction but offers a beautiful invitation to begin learning more about the world under the snow)

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Mia Posada

Nest by Jorey Hurley

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher 

Books about Creatures: Small to Gigantic, and all sizes in between:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland

Jumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

Information/Concept titles:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Swirl by Swirl (Spirals in Nature) written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Gravity by Jason Chin

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Biographies/Memoir:

 Biographies/Memoir Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Orani My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill 

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully 

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

(I featured a few of these titles in this post last year: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds Some are clearly my favourites!)

What beautiful nonfiction picture books make you swoon? Please share them in the comments.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

NFPB 2014