Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: B is for Bear

This week I found B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet by Hannah Viano (October 2015) and was absolutely charmed by it. Striking art work and all things lovely and wonderful from the natural world of North America. Part alphabet book, part celebration of nature, many parts simple beauty.

B is for Bear

Each page holds an upper case word for the letter represented and a simple, descriptive sentence of additional information along with a stunning image (these are paper cuttings!)

For example:

“Standing still on one leg, an EGRET watches the water closely, waiting for his dinner to swim by.”

Some wonderful things selected P for PEBBLE, Q for QUEEN ANNE’s LACE, R for RAINSTORM

I particularly loved this book because it got me thinking about how to use it in the classroom. Last week Melissa Stewart wrote a post wondering about doing research with elementary students. “Is there a fun way to do research?” she asks. She has more posts to come (yippee!) but I have been thinking about this question a lot. I’ve been thinking about letting research first be part of a discovery, expressive process. Something that involves art, creativity, poetry, creating images while being a part of the process of wondering and finding new information. And then, what to do with it?

I love the idea of some simple pieces – like art work inspired by a book like this. Create an image of something, share a fact discovered by a little bit of reading or exploring a website or . . . Think about what fact feels the most important and how to share it.

Wouldn’t you like to create an alphabet book linked to a particular place – a country, a province (or state), a city, a neighbourhood? And include a number of interesting pieces of art with extra information. A piece of beautiful art and a simple, carefully crafted sentence. Seems like the ideal marriage of beginning fact finding and information honouring.

Already thinking of a book like this for my class to do on our neighbourhood . . . And about where we might find more information about things we might want to highlight . . .

I love books that both enrich and inspire – accessible and lovely mentor texts to imitate. This is a beautiful one indeed.

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!


16 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: B is for Bear

  1. I do love the books you share. Thanks to the link to Melissa Stewart, I love her work! Hmmm, I’m thinking that an alphabet may find it’s way into a series of slices or maybe just one. You’ve given me a mentor to consider as we approach the month of writing. 🙂

  2. Some years, but not every one because I always had students for two years, sometimes three, I did have them do alphabet books about their chosen topic. When that happened, it was a way for them to broaden their outlook on the subject, then choose which path that would take them deeper. Other times, an alphabet book was a good project for one specific student’s topic. I hope you enjoy doing this. I think it means good research at the beginning, and can go further if you want to. I did love this book, too.

  3. That sounds like a great project idea, and a way to get kids really thinking about their community and looking at their surroundings with a fresh eye. We just got three copies of this book at our branch, so I’m glad to hear it’s a good one! 🙂

  4. Before I retired from teaching (5th grade), I had my class annually create a “Welcome to 5th grade” ABC book for the incoming 4th graders. There are so many changes (ie routines, expectations, special trips, privileges) associated with “moving up” and the students loved celebrating their own year in fifth grade this way. The “new kids” felt much more at ease, as a result!

  5. Oh how I love the look of this book, Carrie. I am a collector of all things alphabet and I am totally fascinated by animals and our natural world. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.

  6. This is an absolutely lovely post. I felt inspired by the book and your writing–and I haven’t gotten the book yet! I love the element of choice, too. We can ask the students to pick the theme of their alphabet books. How much fun would that be? Ah! The ideas are boundless with this kind of thing. Thanks for inspiring me!

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