Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

Steve Jenkins is royalty in the nonfiction picture book world as far as I am concerned. A leader, an inspiration, a sure thing. Does anyone own a Steve Jenkins title that they don’t adore? Every time I hear of a new Jenkins book being released, I can instantly convince myself that it must be a part of our class collection. And then I use it often for many different reasons. So much of our science learning begins with a Steve Jenkins’ book!

The latest book soon making its way into my room is this one: Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins (published April 2014)

I just reread this title again and am so excited to share it with my students. Each page offers a close up illustration of a particular eye and details about how it works and the book also begins and ends with additional information. As always, there are more facts about the animals featured in the book, but this title also includes:

  • a summary of “the first eyes” – how some animals developed sight and how vision evolved
  • information about the four kinds of eyes: an eyespot, pinhole eyes, compound eyes and the camera eye
  • a summary of the evolution of the eye with labelled diagrams and examples
  • a comprehensive glossary that contains terms like retina, receptor cells and ultraviolet light

I learned so many things and know it is a perfect book to read to my students as we discuss topics like light and vision related to an upcoming workshop at Science World.

How will I share this book? I plan to read it and keep a list of ongoing wonders/questions – we will make s wonder board with these questions and do some research and experiments to develop our understanding around concepts covered in this book. Who knows where our questions will lead us?

 Eye to Eye Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

I started thinking about the myriad of ways that titles by Steve Jenkins (or Jenkins and Page) can be used in the classroom. The list is long. I have included some of my favourite Jenkins’ titles here and an idea about how to use them as part of a nonfiction read aloud experience that might extend over more than one class and into follow up activities.

Time to Sleep by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (published March 2011)

Learn all about how different animals sleep. Lots of additional information about each animal in the back pages of the book.

An idea: This book is a fantastic title to use when developing certain oral language skills: listening critically, making a relevant comment, building on what has been said and comparing and contrasting. Each page features a picture of an animal and a sentence or two about its sleep habits. Have the children comment in a turn and talk and then share out routine about how this is connected to or vastly different from human habits.

For example, the text says:

Snug in its underground burrow, the hairy armadillo snoozes for more than twenty hours a day.

Students might share: “Humans sleep above ground not underground.” “Humans don’t need as much sleep as armadillos. Kids sleep about 9-11 hours a night.” or “We don’t sleep in burrows but we snuggle under blankets to keep warm/snug.”

time to sleep Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins (published April 2012)

Detailed information about all of the different (and sometimes absolutely creepy) kinds of beautiful beetles that exist in the world.

An idea: Of course, this book screams art to me. But, after learning about beetle parts (abdomen, thorax, mandibles, flight wings, etc) art needs to be somewhat scientific art. Have the students sketch and colour (choose your medium) real or imagined beetles and label the parts. Perhaps some future coleopterists (people who study beetles) will be inspired.

 The Beetle Book Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

Bones by Steve Jenkins (published August 2010)

True to size or scaled down images of bones and how they work in various bodies. Incredible.

An idea: This book inspires more labelled diagrams to me. Have students sketch the skeletal system of a particular animal. A detailed labelled diagram (beyond just name) which explains how particular bones work to help the animal hunt, hide, move in its everyday life could be completed. Take this further and compare bone sizes to human bones. The human femur is _______ times as big (or cm longer than) the femur of the _________. Any kind of math could be practiced: ratios, length comparisons, fractions, etc.

Bones Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (published May 2010)

Learn about the unique symbiotic relationships between specific creatures. I once read this book over the course of almost a year – a little each week and students were completely mesmerized by what they were learning.

An idea: This book was fantastic to practice summary writing using new vocabulary. An example: after reading about how the seagull eats worms (a parasite) from the ocean sunfish, I would ask students to explain the symbiotic relationship making sure to use specific words: parasites, ocean, surface, fin. After we did a few of these summaries together, students loved writing about the relationship between each pair of animals and illustrating it with a picture or two.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

NFPB 2014

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: 116/65 complete!

14 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A focus on Steve Jenkins titles

  1. There are so many of Jenkins’ books to use. I love the beetle book, learned so much about them myself when I read it. For those students who are really interested in insects, it is a treasure, just like the others. We have a big bone collection at school, for those studying certain animals, or for sketching a variety. The bones book has been so helpful. Thanks for all this Carrie. One of my favorites is still How To Clean A Hippopotamus. I am fascinated by those relationships.

  2. Add me to the Jenkins fan club! I was fortunate to hear him speak at Lesley last spring, and I was even more impressed. His depth of knowledge about is subjects is boundless and his enthusiasm for the natural world is completely engaging. Wish I had had his books when I was a kid!

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