Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The nonfiction effect

While nonfiction titles are read and shared all year in my room, I often do a specific “push” of nonfiction titles in January of each school year and make sure that one day a week in Reading Workshop, we spend some quality time exploring nonfiction titles. This year, our Reading Workshop routines are a little different to match this group of readers and I wasn’t sure how to launch our nonfiction celebrations.

At the end of January I realized the best thing to do would be to begin sharing nonfiction titles in an already routine way: through our Wednesday a.m. book sharing circles. So . . . last week, I pulled some tried and true titles and these books travelled child to child in three sharing circles.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: the nonfiction effect

This post is all about celebrating the nonfiction effect in the room!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: the nonfiction effect

I gathered a number of titles with lots of interesting drawings and photographs about animals, birds and insects to share with the children. After modelling how to interact with the titles (look at the front and back covers, skim and scan through the text, read interesting captions of photographs that catch your eye, look at the table of contents for sections of interest, notice the size of the text on the page) we broke into 3 small groups and passed a title every minute.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: the nonfiction effect

Listening in, this is what I overheard:

  • “Whoa!”
  • “Wow!”
  • “Look at this!”
  • “So, so cool.”
  • “Oh my God.”
  • “I can’t believe it.”
  • “Eew, yuck!”
  • “Is that a close up?”
  • “Hey I know that!”
  • “What is that?!”

The wonderful thing is that most of this was just spontaneously uttered. The children were not talking to each other, although lots of back and forth peeking happened. They just couldn’t keep their reactions inside.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: the nonfiction effect

After we had explored all of the books in our circles, we placed them in the center of our group and talked about which title we would love to read and why.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: the nonfiction effect

For this little group of Grade 2/3s, their comments reflect where they are – the “in awe, want to read more” stage:

“We saw lots of gross stuff but it was cool.”

“It’s all about the world and things we don’t know.”

“I think I know some of the things and not some of the things in that book.”

“Do we also have books about . . . .?”

One child held a book close and announced to me. “Ms. Gelson, I can actually read this book all by myself.”

The nonfiction effect

The books we shared were placed on a table and children began sorting through the piles taking titles off to read.

The nonfiction effect

Some titles were shared with a friend. “Let’s look for stuff to learn.”

The nonfiction effect

My learning and current thinking for this group:

  • these learners are going to need lots of series (this book is like this one) so that once they have a format understood they can take off with the reading and learning
  • we need to do a lot more sharing circles to generate interest and curiosity
  • very brief mini lessons on nonfiction features will be necessary with lots and lots of repetition as this group of readers is not used to navigating nonfiction texts
  • our reading needs to be connected to talk and sharing time
  • in about a month, we can introduce recording facts and beginning research concepts but for now, it is all about developing passion for nonfiction texts
  • students need accessible texts that support what we are learning about in the classroom – finding and sharing these will be priority number one

I have written about these sharing circles with nonfiction titles before – read here for how they worked with my Grade 3/4 class last year.

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!



10 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The nonfiction effect

  1. “these learners are going to need lots of series (this book is like this one) so that once they have a format understood they can take off with the reading and learning” Best explanation I’ve ever read to explain the importance of educational publishers vs. trade publishers.

    I loved peeking into how you share nonfiction with your students!

  2. Lots of “accessible texts” are so important. Beth at Pages & Margins just shared two space books for differing levels. Makes me happy because for those who are emerging readers, it makes them so proud to be able to read a n-f text by themselves, like that smiling student in your picture. Wish you were my granddaughter’s teacher, Carrie! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I used your book sharing practice with my fifth grade students a few weeks ago and it was an excellent time. I used only nonfiction and it helped get some of them interested. I am definitely going to do this with my younger students soon. Thanks for blogging about your process.

  4. Carrie, I am very thankful to be connected with you and the work you are doing with these kids. Our group very much looks forward to hearing from you on tour tomorrow morning. Thanks for being willing! 🙂 Susan (‘Seymour Spa’ and ‘Grazing Bowl’)

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