Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.

This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop

Kids love cheetahs. But what is the story of their endangered status and what is being done about it? That is the story that this title showcases – in particular the story of  Laurie Marker and the work she does at theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.

Dorothea's Eyes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.

How to Swallow a Pig Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that.

Tooth by Tooth Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.

What if you had Animal ears?Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People

Pink is for Blobfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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

Such a beautifully written and organized book – almost like a nature journal or a scrap book.  Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).

 Feathers Not Just for Flying Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.

Separate is Never Equal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!

I, Fly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange 

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive? Introduced in order of their evolutionary arrival, read poems and facts about such creatures as the squirrel, ants, geckos and diatoms. Fascinating and a lyrical experience all at once. Blending of art, poetry and nonfiction. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Monday August 22nd, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. During the summer, these photos will be about getting my classroom library up and running for a room full of readers in September.

Here is my read aloud by theme collection nicely tucked into a cabinet.

Monday August 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Nonfiction? Yes! One area (still missing labels) sorted and ready for readers. Working on another area tomorrow.

Monday August 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

This week, I started labelling spines by genre. Getting there literally one book at a time.

Monday August 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

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. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

Books I enjoyed:

Pirasaurs written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Michael Slack

Huge kid appeal in this title. I featured it earlier this week here.

Pirasaurs JF

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

When this book was first published, someone said it was my kind of book. It is most definitely my kind of book. Gently perfect. I think I need to own it.

The Knowing Book

 A Beginner’s Guide To Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson with illustrations by David Roberts

This is funny – funny while all the while worried about a child actually getting mauled by a bear – funny. Very interesting to use as a mentor text for writing – how are facts and humour woven throughout? Would love to read this aloud to a group of students.

A Beginner's Guide To Bear Spotting

 

Ooko by Esmé Shapiro

The perfect kind of quirky, charming story line and illustrations. Lots of humour. And a dose of what to look for in a friend advice. Pay close attention.

Ooko

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman with illustrations by David Roberts

How had I missed reading this one? Love David Roberts’ illustrations here. .

The Dunderheads

This is NOT a Cat! by David Larochelle with illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka

This would be a very fun and loud read aloud experience with little listeners who would soon become active participants. Such fun!

This is NOT a cat!

Clara Humble and the Not so Super Powers by Anna Humphrey with illustrations by Lisa Cinar

This is the first book in a new series perfectly suited to readers Grade 3 and up. Clara Humble is convinced that she has super powers. More and more things happen that make it seem perfectly plausible. And if you have super powers, you really should use them . . . Right? This title has much young reader appeal: interesting comic drawings featuring @Cat (Clara’s very own comic strip), an honest, mistake making character full of creative plans and imaginative thinking and a plot full of action, adventure and friendship mishaps. Like many chapter book series for younger readers, this title is fast paced and funny but it doesn’t shy away from allowing the reader to experience some of Clara’s challenges and blunders and what she needs to do to make things right. I look forward to introducing this series to my new class this fall.

Clara Humble and the Not so Super Powers

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Told from the perspective of four different young characters in the few days preceding September 11th, 2001, this novel weaves themes of human connection, vulnerabilities and emotions. Powerful, honest and important. Beautiful writing by Baskin.

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 34/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 231/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 32/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 29/50 books read

Up Next? I am reading The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Pirates? Dinosaurs? No! Pirasaurs!

If kids were in charge of the world, there would be a lot more french fries. And huge twisty slides everywhere. Trampolines. Swimming pools. Candy by the bucket. Rollercoasters in school playgrounds. You get the idea.

And the creatures! We’d have pet monsters. Frogs in our bathtubs. Ponies? One would arrive on everyone’s fifth birthday. Automatically. No wishing or pleading necessary. Dragons and unicorns would absolutely exist. And of course dinosaurs would not be extinct.

And all of those exciting characters you might want to spend time with? Magicians? Witches? Wizards? Pirates? Trolls? A sorceress or two? Robots who do chores and serve customized ice cream sundaes? Of course they would be around. They might even live next door.

There would be many an adventure. Like treasure hunting. Sword fights. Bewitching things. Time travel.

When books hold promise of all of this fun and adventure? When they make us giggle? When they are silly and full of hoped for possibility? Then they have big time kid appeal.

Big time kid appeal means children fall in love with a book because it has a whole bunch of things they adore all in one place. It’s meant just for them. When we read them these books aloud, big kinda surprised eyes look up at us like we have just granted permission to eat pizza and milkshakes while having a bubble bath with a new puppy. “Ah, you get it! Fun!”

Josh Funk gets fun. He gets kid appeal. He offers up some of those things children wish for. The adventure. The duelling. Finding treasure. And he makes up the best characters! First it was royal breakfast food who raced about in the fridge.

Now he has imagined pirate dinosaurs. Who hunt treasure and battle.

Kid appeal and then some.

Author Josh Funk gives a sneak peek:

We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!

We grunt and roar and sneer!

We’ll steal your books with tails and hooks

And own the blogosphere!

We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!

We pose a giant threat!

We’ll slash and duel and soon we’ll rule

The world-wide internet!

We’re Pirasaurs! We’re Pirasaurs!

Our story is fantastic!

This grand hardback by Funk & Slack

Is published by Scholastic!

… and will be available on August 30th wherever books are sold!

So be on the lookout! The Pirasaurs are arriving soon.

Hint, hint, that’s them rowing towards you! (Don’t claim you haven’t been warned!)

Pirosaurs! Josh Funk

Thanks to the creative energies of author Josh Funk and illustrator Michael Slack, there will be many a young reader asking for this book to be read aloud just once more!

I am thrilled to celebrate the happy anticipation of this new release!

Pirasaurs by Josh Funk

Don’t you wish you were a pirasaur?

Josh Funk

Monday August 15th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. During the summer, these photos will be about getting my classroom library up and running for a room full of readers in September. This past week has been all about sorting and stacking. Where is the best spot for each book? And then how am I going to make a system so students can access titles? New grade, new class means new thinking. There is a blog post brewing . . .

And look at all of those piles!  I am not even close to done.

Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

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. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the Blog:

This week was all about #pb10for10! My list? Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion

Books I enjoyed:

If a T. Rex Crashes your Birthday Party written by Jill Esbaum with illustrations by Dasha Tolstikova

What could go wrong? This book provides a list. Stinky breath. Loud tantrums. Ineptitude with party games (those little arms). Pure disaster? It seems so. Or does it? A great title for dino lovers and birthday party enthusiasts. I giggled through it. Perfect story time title.

If a T-rex Crashes your Birthday Party Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne

Really, really funny. And interactive and delightful. If I was teaching Grade 1 this year, this would be a first week read aloud.

This Book Just Ate my Dog! Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

This book is so well done. Talking about the story is giving away the story. So I’ll just say this: clever, really funny, perfect read aloud to inspire much conversation about how to look at life.

Barnacle is Bored Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for ThatThe Mutts Diaries by Patrick McDonnell

Strips collected. I love reading these first thing in the morning and just smiling to myself.

The Mutts Diaries Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

I had a really hard time leaving this book to do all of the things life requires: eat, sleep, empty the dishwasher, wake up my kids. I was completely taken with these characters from page one. Gephart can write. And her words are full of human, of beauty, of deep feelings. It’s hard to describe the reading experience. You will get battered. You will worry. You will learn. And you will connect deeply to these characters. I now want everyone I know to read this book so we can talk about it. There is so much here. And I haven’t even talked plot. Go. Find the book. Meet Lily. Meet Dunkin. You will be better because of it.

Lily and Dunkin Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 32/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 219/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 31/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 28/50 books read

Up Next? I am reading a number of titles including Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story

Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016

Picture book 10 for 10 is here! Not many days can rival the picture book love shared on this day!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my fifth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. In 2014, I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness. Last year I highlighted favourite historical fiction titles.

This year I chose books that may inspire philosophical discussion. BIG questions with no absolute answer. Questions about meaning. And truth. Knowledge and reality. Ethics and morals. Books that will allow readers to think critically. To reason. To argue. To listen. To take risks in understanding and meaning making. To stretch one question into deeper and more complex questions.

Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

For each title I have listed the initial questions I had after reading. Of course, in a room full of readers and thinkers, these questions would only grow!

Little Bird written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine

Little Bird Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is a small thing insignificant? What state of being do we need to be in to notice small details?  How does this noticing change our reality?

You Call That Brave by Lorenz Pauli and Kathrin Schärer

You Call that Brave Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is courage? Is it an action or a decision? How do we determine what is bravery? Can a brave act for one be common place for another?

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

this moose belongs to me Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is ownership? Do we have the right to “own” something live? If yes, what responsibilities go along with this? Or is it even possible to own a living thing?

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

The Gift of Nothing Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is nothing? Is it something? Does it have value? Significance? How do we measure the power or weight of nothing?

There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

There Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is there a place that brings bigger happiness? What are we searching for? Is it someplace we have been?  Or someplace we only imagine? Can we truly be in the moment or are we always thinking ahead or looking back?

Wild by Emily Hughes

Wild Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Can our true self be changed? What do we mean by the influence of nature or nurture? What is freedom? Can our spirit be contained? How much of our inner life is our own?

The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have written by Edward van de Vendel and illustrated by Anton Van Hertbruggen

The Dog that Nino didn't have Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Where is the place between imagination and reality? Can what we imagine make us truly happy? Which is superior – imagination or reality? In which circumstances?

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton,

Something Extraordinary Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What is real? What is fuelled by imagination? How does that influence our reality? Is there beauty in simplicity? In the everyday? Does it count if we don’t notice it?

 My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown 

My Teacher is A Monster (No, I am Not!) Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

What defines us? Who we are or how we are perceived? How does emotion affect perception? How does our reality change over time? How does experience alter reality?

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies 

Grandad's Island Big questions: picture books that inspire philosophical discussion #pb10for10 2016 There's a Book for That

Is there life after death? What would it be like? Do those we love remain with us? How? Where?

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10

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Happy picture book reading!  

Monday August 8th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. During the summer, these photos will be about getting my classroom library up and running for a room full of readers in September. Moving spaces and grade levels and sourcing bookshelves has been a lot of work!

So basically going from this (the classroom collection of books sat in these boxes until the floors were done and I could completely unpack).

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

To the beginning of unpacking and organizing . . .

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

One shelf all ready for books – this will be where nonfiction titles end up.

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

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. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the Blog:

For Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Titles I would buy right this second

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby

Books I enjoyed:

Return by Aaron Becker

This trilogy is very special. I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in the first two titles. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.

Return

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

This has a Blueberries for Sal vibe to it. Since that was my favourite book from my childhood, I will say I loved many elements in this title!

Explorers of the Wild

 The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora

Non-book-appreciating monsters do not make for a peaceful reading environment. Let’s just say that all works out in the end and that there is a lot of book love in this book!

The Not So Quiet Library

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Now, I must admit, I do appreciated tidy and neat environments. But, I can also be productive with mess all around me. This title shows us what happens when we want the wrong locations to be too neat and clean.

Tidy

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

When a little one hates reading because reading does not come easily . . . When there is an opportunity to read aloud to a dog . . . Lots can shift with the right opportunities.

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

The Toad by Elise Gravel

The seventh in the Disgusting Critters collection – I was thrilled to find this at the bookstore the other day!

The Toad by Elise Gravel

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner

I think I might like this Marty McGuire title best of all. Marty is so earnest and often has the worst luck but I sure appreciate her spirit. A wonderful series of early middle grade novels.

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!2

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

I featured this title for nonfiction Wednesday – see the link above. Just stunning.

Cloth Lullaby

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda  by Tom Angleberger  

Okay, yes, it’s true. I had never read this book. I own two copies. My children have read this book. But me, nope! And then I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I have a class of grade 4/5s this fall and want to make sure I am up to date on many middle grade titles. This is middle grade perfection.

Strange Case

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds 

Jason Reynolds writes incredible characters. Unforgettable believable characters. In this middle grade title, he delivers characters and relationships in a rich, quietly humorous story full of questions, wisdom and love.

As Brave as You

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 31/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 213/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 31/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 26/50 books read

Up next? I am reading a number of titles including Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby

Sometimes a book is just too beautiful to be believed. Such is the case with this biography of Louise Bourgeois.

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Abrams Books for Young Readers March 2016)

Cloth Lullaby Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby There's a Book for That

Everything about this book is beauty. The navy fabric feeling spine detail. The colours and patterns throughout the book. Red has never seemed so delicate. The blues. The lines. The depiction of Bourgeois’ art. Arsenault is brilliant.

And then there is the story. I think this might well be my favourite picture book biography of the year. Novesky writes in such a lyrical way that reading the text truly feels like being lulled by a lullaby. The reader is pulled into the story of a young girl on the meandering road by a river that leads her to life as an artist. We learn about her strong connection and devotion to her mother (Maman). Her growing skill as an expert weaver in the family business. Her aptitude for mathematics.

Louise’s greatest pieces – huge sculptures made of steel, bronze and marble were of spiders and were woven into being from the grief she felt at losing her beloved mother.

The connection between weaving and repairing, weaving and creating, weaving and healing are literally woven through the story.

So often we hear how artists create art in response to strong emotions. This book reveals how sadness and grief are transformed into powerful and stunning pieces.

A detailed author’s note is included in the back of the book

Highly recommended.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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