Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Animal Stories

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

I love nonfiction titles that read like a story ( I refer to them as information storybooks) and am always on the lookout for titles to read aloud to my students. Some of these titles read just like fiction, others are lyrical or full of rich, descriptive language. Facts and information are woven through the text.

This week, three titles stood out for me as engaging animal stories where the language and story are as rich and powerful as the learning.

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms (published in 2013)

This story begins:

If you’re down by the sea one day, you might spot a seal, lying around like a fat sunbather or flumping along the sand.

The reader is then invited into the world of seals. Learn all about gray seals – how they move (their movement on land is described as a flump – a cross between a flop and a jump), how they hunt and how their body is perfectly suited to their ocean home.

Fascinating facts for me:

  • gray seals molt or shed their fur every year which helps to keep their coat waterproof
  • when a seal dives deep, he can slow his heartbeat down to only four beats a minute in order to use less oxygen
  • when a seal opens his mouth, his jaw closes so he won’t swallow water

Visually this book is an absolute treat: seriously gorgeous illustrations throughout and beautiful black and white drawings of different seals in the end pages of this book. 

See What A Seal Can Do  Animal Stories #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

Eat Like a Bear written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (published in 2013)

This title invites the reader to eat like a bear over the course of the four seasons. How does bear find food in early spring? How does she prepare for winter? How does a mother bear nourish her babies during her winter slumber?

This title is full of poetic language, beautiful to read and reread aloud. It is descriptive and full of alliteration:

Bushes? Bare. No berries there.

Dig in. Dig down. Paw and claw and pull. Find . . .

A spruce, a shrub, an early-skunk.

The book ends with a two page spread full of additional information about bears with titles like Do Bears Really Hibernate? Bear Food, Not People Food and Grizzly Bear Future

Eat Like A Bear  Animal Stories #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

Little Lost Bat written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Alan Marks (published in 2006)

This is an emotional read for young listeners/readers. Through the story of a little Mexican free-tailed bat living with its mother in a colony in Texas, we learn much about bats’ hunting habits, their predators and how they raise their young. It is a tender and important relationship described between mother bat and baby as they nurse, snuggle and cry out to communicate with each other in a nursery full of babies. While mothers are out hunting, babies are vulnerable to predators like snakes. Although – they are safer in a large group huddled together. Mother bats must hunt every night for insects to feed themselves and produce milk for their babies. Some bats are eaten by owls. What if a mother bat has lost her baby to a snake? Will she “adopt” an orphaned baby whose mother doesn’t return from hunting? Eventually we come to this question in Little Lost Bat.

I can imagine this would have many children on the edge of their seats and needing to talk about the dramatic balance between safety and survival in nature.

 Animal Stories #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

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.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 19/65 complete!

14 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Animal Stories

  1. Bats are very interesting to young readers (along with penguins), so sometimes I overlook another book about bats because I have so many books already on bats! Lol But your description makes me want to run to the library for this book! I just love when factual information is weaved into a beautifully written narrative story. What a talent to be able to do that as a writer.

    • Absolutely! This was a powerful read. I read it aloud to my son. Haven’t tried it with my students yet. Can see they would be completely hooked. And you are right – I would say bats, penguins and cheetahs are consistent favourites!

  2. Love your descriptions of the texts you read. It is helpful to hear what you learned as you were reading. Little Lost Bats and See What a Seal Can Do are new to us. Thanks for those recommendations.

  3. I have not seen the Sandra Markle book yet but I have enjoyed others of hers. I need to read this. Eat Like A Bear is a favorite of mine. I am going to try to find See What A Seal Can do. Thanks, Carrie.

  4. I don’t think you’ll have any problems of reaching your informational text goals 😉
    I have the bear book on hold for me at the library, will be picking that one up this weekend! The seal one looks great for young readers too! Thanks for sharing these books!

  5. Pingback: Monday January 27th, 2014 | There's a Book for That

  6. Pingback: Ocean wonders: twenty nonfiction picture books about sea life | There's a Book for That

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