Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Backyard Books

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014I had a post all planned for today featuring some recently published books but then I had the best session with one of my nonfiction groups and decided that highlighting some older but wonderful titles was in order instead!

I always like getting a peek into other classrooms and so I hope you enjoy these photos of my students interacting so enthusiastically with these nonfiction books!

I have most of the Backyard Books (published between 2000 and 2002) by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries in my classroom. Titles such as these highlighted below are perfect in a primary classroom library.

Each book begins with the question Are you a . . . .? The story continues providing information about a specific insect or backyard creature by explaining details of its life cycle, habits and characteristics. The text is lovely to read aloud “If you are a ____________ then you _____________” While these can be read aloud even to preschool children, they are perfect for young readers who are reading independently. Great books to practice extracting information from narrative nonfiction text.

 Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

 Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

Once a week, I am lucky enough to work with a small group working with nonfiction text. While one of our Resource Teachers and my Teacher Librarian run Reading Workshop with the rest of my class, I take a group down to the library. Today my very keen group of six was working on being “fact detectives” with these Backyard Books titles.

After a few minutes of finding facts together from the Are you a Snail? book, I let each group choose a text and sent them off. The partners took turns reading aloud and noting down information. I circulated to assist and give feedback. Students were trying to find different facts on each page and then record them on chart paper. I overheard:

“Was that a fact do you think?”

“We should write that!”

“How can we write that?”

“Did we find something on this page?”

“Did we already say that?”

Students helped each other with the best way to explain something. Lots of rereading and rephrasing.

 Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That  Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That I Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

By the end, each group had made it through at least half of the text and had noted many facts down on their charts.

 Backyard Books #NFPB2014 There's a Book for That

I called them back together and asked the children what skills they thought they had been working on. All of them admitted that the task was a little bit more challenging than they thought it would be but they wanted to do it again next time! Here is what they shared:

“We had to reread and think lots.”

“We had to put shorter sentences instead of longer sentences.”

“You have to make sure you have all of the important details.”

“Putting it in different words to make sense is kind of hard.”

For these Grade 3 students, a successful, engaging activity with great nonfiction books!

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: 62/65 complete!

12 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Backyard Books

  1. Tell the students their charts are awesome, so much information gathered! I don’t know these books, Carrie, but will see if our library has them. They look good, interesting for young readers, for practicing note-taking. Thank you for the heads up about them.

  2. I am in love with this post, and the work that you do in your classroom! I love this line, because it says so much about the way you have taught your kids to approach the text:“We had to reread and think lots.” Bravo!

    • Many thank yous Tara. Means a lot. I am very proud of these children and their commitment to this activity. They were so excited to start that they skipped down to the library with me and then, boom, on task. I love their ability to work and talk together.

  3. LOVE this post, Carrie! I have the full collection of Backyard books! I often use them for writing but I love how you had your students gather and collect facts – certainly no easy task, given the unique style of writing in the books! Are you an amazing teacher? If so, your name is Carrie Gelson!

    • Thanks so much Adrienne. I have used them for writing before too – what incredible mentor texts! But I want the kids to also realize that they are learning lots of information from more narrative styles not just from nonfiction full of fact boxes and charts (although these are of course awesome) They really enjoyed the books and the exercise. Thank you for the compliment via the play on the style of the text!

  4. What a wonderfully-challenging and ultimately-rewarding activity, Carrie! Love those photos of the kids, they all seem so hard working. I love how they are thinking more clearly and intently on what ‘facts’ mean. Such a meaningful activity, Carrie. Thanks for sharing this!

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