20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015

I so often agonize over this list, my favourite nonfiction titles of the year. Which titles should go on my favourites list? I have a very special spot for nonfiction picture books and LOVE being part of this Wednesday community hosted by Alyson Beecher.

I literally ran out to the library to pick up holds in the middle of writing this post to squeeze in a few more nonfiction reads. Then, I tried reading and blogging at the same time. I have mastered reading and folding laundry (although the sock matching often goes south) but reading while typing is a tad too challenging. So I took some breaks, read a few more books and made a few changes. Finally, 20 favourites emerged.

2015 Nonfiction Picture Books 20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

I always have a love of picture book biographies I might share in my classroom. So these featured big on this list.

In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kugler

In Mary's Garden  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Sky Painter written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici

The Sky Painter  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for ThatWhich Trombone Shorty written by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Trombone Shorty  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Finding Winnie  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Drum Dream Girl  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

Tricky Vic- The Impossilby True Story of the Man who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

swan the life and dance of anna pavlova  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

After experiencing water shortages this year on the rainy south coast, water is also on my mind. I found relevant and wonderful 2015 titles.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Raindrops Roll  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Water is Water 20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

And then there are always certain nonfiction topics I am obsessed with: nests and eggs, whales, plants and seeds, endangered animals, Australian animals and rocks. I found titles that covered most of these things from 2015’s offerings.

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

The Blue Whale  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor

Trapped! A Whale's Rescue  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

Nest  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

big red kangaroo  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Emu written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

Emu

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild is written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton. Virginia McKenna (from the Born Free Foundation)

Counting Lions:  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

A Rock Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas with illustrations by Violeta Dabija

A Rock Can Be  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Others that stood out are of course by favourite nonfiction writers Nicola Davies and Steve Jenkins

I (Don’t) Like Snakes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano

I Don't Like SnakesHow to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

How to Swallow a Pig  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Books published by Flying Eye books are often hugely beautiful and extremely interesting. This one about monkeys completely charmed me.

Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davey

Mad about Monkeys  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

What are your favourites of 2015?

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

#nfpb2015

Favourites of 2015

Oh, this list. 15 of my favourite fiction titles. I started putting this together in early December and have changed it numerous times. Reading new books shifted things. Revisiting favourites and loving them even more shifted things. I was switching books on and off until moments before I hit publish.

The 15 books that made the final cut? They spoke to my heart. Sometimes happy. Sometimes hopeful. Sometimes with sorrow. But they all spoke deeply.

15 books and no more than 15 words of raving. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2014 (14 books, 14 words) In 2013, it was Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and in 2012 (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. Each year, I get one more book and one more word to play with!

These picture books are both beautiful and in need of many rereads. I love each of them more each time I read them and read to children? Well . . . they certainly do their picture book magic thing.

Lenny & Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Moody. Measured. Heavy but secure. Vulnerable but playful. Oh, this book.

Lenny & Lucy Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

Celebrating the creativity on the page and endless possibility.

My Pen Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Skunk written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

Quirky. Charming. This title sings to my philosophical heart.

The Skunk Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Lush and moody. Sweet and hopeful. Every shade of green gorgeous.

The Little Gardener Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

A wise nana. A regular bus ride. The importance of neighbourhood and noticing.

Last Stop on Market Street Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder

Beautiful, playful and imaginative illustrations. Olafur is a transformative Arctic tour guide.

The Bear Report Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

Missing and connecting. Believing and making it so. Lots of love here.

Boats for Papa Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Special Delivery written by Phllip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

A big heart. A big elephant. A big journey. Large doses of joy.

Special Delivery Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie is enchanting. She embraces life – both the real and the imagined parts with gusto.

This is Sadie Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

These six titles are my most favourite of many truly fantastic titles I read this year. Something about the characters in these books made them unforgettable.

Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin

The magic suggested in the story floats off the page and whispers quietly, “Immerse yourself.”

Wish Girl Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

The pull of home, the strength of family, the importance of culture: all rich & complex.

Listen, Slowly Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Family is about who is in your corner. Beautiful. Hopeful. Heartbreaking.

Orbiting Jupiter Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This novel twists from the ugly cruelty of abuse to the powerful healing of connection.

The War That Saved my Life Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Dog as hero. Boy with the weight of the world. Honest truths are the hardest. The Honest-Truth Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

So much grief and challenge but the humanity shines bright.

boy in the black suit Favourites of 2015 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .

Wishing everyone a 2016 full of new favourites and lots of reading!

 

A year of thinking (2015)

Yesterday, I published a list of favourite book lists I have posted on this blog in 2015. I said it in the post and I will say it again here: I make a lot of lists.

But here and there, I do some thinking.

Sometimes it is reflective. Some of it is not quite clear. Writing it down means I figure some of it out. Some of it has “rantish” leanings. But all of it captures my journey as a teacher, a reader, a human.

Today, I honour the posts that best capture my year . . . in thoughts. Putting this together was an interesting process. A healthy, emotional process.

In January, I gave voice to the not so wonderful Monday: Monday leads to Friday Sometimes it is all about hanging in!

From this post:

On some Mondays, I question whether I have it together at all. A lot seems to not be yet “in synch” and the previous week feels very long ago. Monday often feels like a warm up, remind ourselves, get it together day. I don’t often say TGIF. But I often think TGMIO. TGMIO = Thank Goodness Monday is Over. Monday is the day when we don’t have the cushion of success immediately behind us. Anxiety is higher. Stamina is lower. Energy is inconsistent. When Monday is under our belt, it’s like the clouds part. The sun creeps in or sometimes it lights up the week bright and strong on Tuesday and holds fast.

A year of thinking (2015)

In March I fully celebrated all things book nerdy: Nerding Out I attended not one, but two literacy conferences and the first EVER nErDCamp Bellingham. 

From this post:

And yes, I love all of this – the authors, the illustrators and the literacy love. But why do I love it so much? Because I can share it with my students.

Their book love is my book love.

Our passion for literacy is always, I hope, transformative.

IMG_2144

In April, there were some rocky weeks. But I fuelled up on what was always around me: Fuel

From this post:

Every so often though, I need to gather fuel. Fuel to recharge when there are lots of hard moments. This week, I celebrate that thanks to some sunshine, some impressive and supportive colleagues and the laughter and smiles of the children I work with, I found the energy to go looking for that fuel. And of course, I found it. Right there. Where it always is. All around me. Waiting to be noticed. Ready to shine the light.

IMG_3504

In April, I also began the process of letting go: Three Years Only a few months left of sharing a classroom everyday with a group of children (many for a full 3 years).

From this post:

It has been a very special gift to teach so many children for so long. I may never have this opportunity again and I know it. All children teach me so much. These children have been particularly influential. This is my 20th year at this school and I don’t think I have ever been so full of change and possibility. Wanting the room to be full of learning and security for these children has pushed me to risk take and shift and reassess constantly. My learning has been perhaps the most rich.

IMG_9523

When school was really over in June, we were all ready: Goodbyes

From this post:

Yes, we had some tears. Yes, there were lots of hugs. But most of all there was security. When you build something great together, it still stands when you step away. Somehow, quietly, we all knew this.

And so . . . our goodbyes were full of gratitude, of smiles, of honouring what we have built. And of knowing that it is in each of us.

I am so lucky to be a teacher. So lucky to work with such wonderful children. Today, I celebrate that.

Big breath.

IMG_5712

In July, I shared Sunday Morning Perspective all about knowing what is really important in the classroom: community.

From this post:

Our classroom is its own community. What we build is ours. The learning environment is a safe haven and that is powerful and necessary for many children.

IMG_3309

In August, I was thinking full steam ahead – all about my new to me readers and reminding myself to go slow: Literacy Nest Building 101

From this post:

I need to dust off my patient self and approach this new group with more experience, deeper commitment and careful and best intentions. I want to do it right. Wrap them in book love and let them settle. Not squeeze too tight. Let the books do their thing. Build a literary nest in which to nurture these new readers. When we fly, we will soar. But first there is going to be a little bit of bumbling about. Some falls. Some reading journeys that need more lift off. The right wind. Smoother landings. We will get there. One book at a time. Shared together. Shared between us.

IMG_3638

I was also getting all bothered by the prospect of evaluation overkill and wrote this in my head and in scratchy scrawls (stopping at bus stop benches as I shopped for vegetables, to write down my thoughts in a notebook): The Power of Observation My “rant” about all that we can know by watching.

From this post:

The wonderful thing about observation? I can gather information all day, every day as we continue to engage in our daily learning. The power of observation. Over time. In many different activities. With children we know and have relationships with. It gives us so much more than any paper and pencil task will ever do.

We don’t need to fill our first weeks with students with assessments. We need to let the learning begin. Everything we need to know is happening right in front of us if we just pay attention.

IMG_0480

September brought a new class. New needs. Some of them surprising. Deeper literacy needs than I was initially prepared for . . . But I found a way to celebrate the challenge: Celebration: From Here

From this post:

I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

IMG_6896

A Sunday Reflection in November: Honest Truths, Metaphorical Whales and the “in between” place Meeting Marla Frazee “steadied my boat” on a rainy November morning and helped me back to a steady shore.

From this post:

I am a teacher. A teacher who believes firmly in the gift of literacy.  I am a conduit between authors and illustrators who have magic to give and the children who need to receive it. And when I can, I reflect it back. I love nothing more than to share how very beloved stories are in a community of little readers. I am blessed to sit “in between“- in the middle of the book makers and the readers and listeners who they make these books for.

IMG_8257

In December, after one sleep into the holiday break I wrote (Brief) Ramblings and the Happiness Train. Sometimes, we need to embrace our inner silly and capture the energy of childhood.

From this post:

There is something freeing about leaping about and laughing with a bunch of five to eight year olds along for the ride. Freeing and needed.

Finally, one of my little guys leaped in front of us. “This is the terminus! Last stop!” he shouted. And, we all agreed. The children ran off, lighter, ready for the last ten minutes of playtime. I walked inside, lighter, but loaded down with connection, calm and the feeling of “just right.”

 A year of Thinking (2015)

A year of thoughts. What a year.  So happy to be a teacher, a learner and a thinker who still has much to figure out.

Best to everyone who reads this blog – I also learn so much from each of you!

Best of my book lists (2015)

Tis the season to make best of the year lists. I am narrowing my choices to do just that. But in the interim, I thought I would highlight ten favourite book lists I made this year. Sometimes, I think I dream in book lists! I tend to make a lot of them.

The ones I want to especially honour are here. Happy reading!

Top Ten Read Aloud Experiences (2015) Read aloud memory lane. This was an emotional list to make. Lots of happy, lots of joy, lots of connection.

Wish Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Twenty Picture Books that Capture the Essence of Childhood: These 20 titles are all about kids and all that they are.

 20 Picture Books that Capture the Essence of Childhood Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Picture Books for New Parents: building a beautiful collection How I love to make lists that encourage families to read together.

Picture Books for New Parents Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Ten Plus Ten equals 20 auto buy illustrators: My favourite female and male illustrators that I can never, ever, resist.

Auto -buy illustrators Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Auto-buy Illustrators male Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out: I honour these 25 girls who live beyond the pages of the books they live in.

25 girls Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out: In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.

25 boys Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Many of these lists I love best seem to be all about the nonfiction picture book! The final four lists on this list reflect my love of nonfiction.

Nonfiction Picture Books – grow a beginning collection: 20 incredible nonfiction titles that should be on the family bookshelf.

nonfiction picture books Grow a collection Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Endangered Animals: Building a Read Aloud Collection: I believe passionately in sharing titles about the animals we are in danger of losing with children. Awareness is essential.

Endangered Animals Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your Perspective: nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Change your perspective Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books revisited: Highlights from my 2014/2015 school year with a Grade 3/4 class.

 Best of my book lists 2015 There's a Book for That

It’s the season for reading. Hope you might have found something new to read (or gift) on one of these lists.

Gift Books 2015: 25 picture books to give this season

Making a picture book list to give is becoming one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014. This year 25 made the list. Why not? There are a lot of books to love!

Gift Books 2015: 25 books to give this season

Of course, I have not read every book out there. But I believe in picture books for every reason and so, I have read a lot! A lot, a lot. Some have stood out. Some I must insist upon. Going picture book shopping? Here is my list of 25 titles that I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? Laughing, I always think, is very underrated.

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond

I was smitten just with the end pages. Based on a true story, this title goes back to Ontario forests of 1914. It is a memory, a story. And what a story. How incredible to think about this experience where a fire caused humans and animals to connect in an incredibly quiet, necessary way. The illustrations here are stunning.

Out of the Woods 2015 Gift Books

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton

This book. It speaks to wild wishes, big possibility and the amazing of the simple and natural. Love, love, love.

Something Extraordinary 2015 Gift Books

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

A wise nana. A regular bus ride. The importance of neighbourhood and noticing.

Last Stop on Market Street 2015 Gift Books

Wolfie the Bunnie written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Charming, humorous and sweet This book has much to offer. Sibling dynamics. The brilliance of children. Humour, giggles, and wows.

Wolfie the Bunny 2015 Gift Books

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Gorgeous. Inspiring. Saturated colours and beautiful art. The true story of one girl’s dream to drum.

Drum Girl Dreaming

Elwood Bigfoot: Wanted: Birdie Friends by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Nate Wragg

One sweet book. About the quest to belong and have friends. Some serious perseverance here.

Elwood Bigfoot 2015 Gift Books

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder

I don’t even have words. A must own. Really, truly beautiful. This title makes me cry and sigh and sit in absolute awe. I refuse to even write about the plot. Just trust me and go buy this book.

The Bear Report 2015 Gift Books

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

It’s lush and moody and at the same time sweet and hopeful. I had all kinds of wishes. I wanted to shrink down and wander about this little garden. I wanted the book to be quilted so I could gift it as a “stuffie” type treasure to little ones to snuggle with. I wanted each image, framed, to hang on my wall. This is a book to love.

The Little Gardener 2015 Gift books

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

This book is magical. The text suggests all kinds of connections between ours and the animal world. Talk about perseverance, creativity and inspiration. Or, just get lost in the illustrations.

Wild Ideas 2015 Gift Books

Marilyn’s Monster written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Matt Phelan

What do you do when everyone gets a monster and yours never arrives? Marilyn grows impatient with the endless waiting. So she ventures out to make her own difference.

Marilyn's Monster

Bright Sky Starry City written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro

A beautiful story of father and daughter, of a curious girl wondering about space and astronomy, of a glorious sky full of stars and constellations.

Bright Sky, Starry City 2015 Gift Books

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Wordless perfection. I love everything about this book. How it is about little things, being in the moment, noticing, kindness . . .

Sidewalk Flowers 2015 Gift Books

Pool by JiHyeon Lee

Gorgeous. Wordless. Two children dive deep and meet under a bunch of swimmers and floaters in a busy pool. What do they find there? A fantastical world. The colours, the negative space, the whimsy.

Pool 2015 Gift Books

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

This book is absolutely adorable. The perfect book for reading aloud at a story time for younger listeners. The perfect bedtime book to remind all soon to be sleepers that they are brave.

Night Animals 2015 Gift Books

Toad Weather written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Rich messages beyond a fascinating story. I love that it reminds us to notice and experience the natural world no matter what the weather, no matter what our mood.

Toad Weather Gift Books 2015

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

For inspiring gardeners. For nature explorers. Spans generations and seasons.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt 2015 gift Books

The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

This is a wonderful title. Such creative twists on Little Red Riding Hood – crafted into quite a different tale. Mysterious. Unusual. Magical. The perfect read aloud for a cozy winter’s day.

The Tea Party in the Woods

Float by Daniel Miyares

Children approach rain in the best of ways. All in. Rubber boots, puddle jumping, sailing of boats! And after the rain, there is sunshine and new possibilities. Wordless and wonderful.

Float 2015 Gift Books

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

I always say there is power in the pencil (or pen, or marker, etc) – this book celebrates the creativity on the page. But on the page is so much more. I want to share it with each group of children I teach for forever . . .

My Pen 2015 Gift Books

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie is enchanting. She embraces life – both the real and the imagined parts with gusto. Creative, inspired, endearing. Her story is a delight to read aloud. Morstad’s images are “ooh” and “ahh” and “wow” inducing. The combination is pure read aloud perfection.

This is Sadie 2015 Gift Books

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Lyrical and lovely. And illustrations to knock you over. Takes you through the seasons, the water cycle, childhood experiences. A must own.

Water is Water 2015 Gift Books

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Beautiful. Special. And inspirational. For little dancers to be. For those with big hearts who know what it is to share.

swan the life and dance of anna pavlova 2015 Gift Books

Lenny and Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Moody. Lonely. Emotional. Sweet. Lovely. A favourite in my room. Children responded to this gentle story of needing to feel secure.

Lenny & Lucy 2015 Gift Books

Sonya’s Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

Try and get past the cover with the greens, the lush, the rich and deep. Sigh. A story about nature, responsibility and hope.

Sonya's Chickens 2015 Gift Books

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski

I am not sure I have words for just how breathtaking I find this title. It is a book lover’s dream. Seriously. Stop dead illustrations. Of course, I had to own this one. And ahem, you should too . . .

The Whisper 2015 Gift Books

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

Mock Caldecott 2016

Oh this process is a tricky one – deciding on the most beautiful of the beautiful. This year I am sharing twelve titles with my students. But if I could include Canadian illustrators, I would have fifteen titles here. Check out the bottom of the post for books from Canadian illustrators that I would love to include.

I LOVED this experience last year. Read about Mock Caldecott 2015 here and here.

This year I am extremely excited to go through this process again with my new class. I will use the same 3 questions I used with my grade 3/4 class but I have simplified the language a little bit to be more appropriate for this group of Grade 2/3 students.. Students answer each question for each book with a rating of 1 – 5,

This book is a book kids will really like. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations in this book are excellent. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations are a great fit for the story.  1  2  3  4  5

Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Here are the twelve titles on our Mock Caldecott 2016 list. Listed alphabetically by illustrator (as they would be shelved on last year’s Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo‘s picture book shelves 🙂 )

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Water Is Water- A Book About the Water Cycle Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Special Delivery written by Phllip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Special Delivery Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

The Night World Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

The Skunk written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

The Skunk Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Float by Daniel Miyares

Float Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

My Pen Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Wolfie the Bunnie written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Wolfie the Bunnie Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Market Street Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach 

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

Lenny and Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Lenny & Lucy Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski

The Whisper Mock Caldecott 2016 There's a Book for That

These Canadian OMG titles are not to be missed when we are doing illustration swooning of the best of the best kind. Unfortunately, these are not eligible for the Caldecott medal.

Ask Me written by Bernard Waber and illustrated by Suzy Lee

Ask Me Bernard Waber Suzy Lee

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This is Sadie

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

sidewalk flowers

Which titles would you include for Mock Caldecott 2016?

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Nonfiction 10 for 10 event is back for a third year! How happy am I to celebrate fantastic nonfiction picture books? Well, that is a silly question! Ecstatic of course.

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this meme. Click here to read all of the top ten lists shared.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

For the first year of #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways. Last year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.

This year I am sharing my favourite nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

These books all allow us to look at the subject in a new way. It might be offering us an alternative glimpse of an animal or phenomenon. Maybe the book answers a question you never even knew you had. Or perhaps your learning gets turned on its head. All of these books had this impact on me.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy

I freely admit that I think sharks are one of the most truly terrifying creatures. But this book captivated me. Its mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites who hunt in the Farallon Islands hunt so successfully, kept me reading and interested to the final pages.

Different perspective? Think about the shark beyond its frightening predator status.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur. For example, the velociraptor was only the size of a modern day dog. The image shown is of a velociraptor on a leash near by a dog also out for a walk. So engaging

Different perspective? Allows the reader to imagine what it might be like to have dinosaurs around now by providing a sense of their size in reference to what we know. Dinosaurs, for a moment, materialize beside us rather than lay down in fossilized form in a photograph or drawing.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

Lyrical and visually stunning. I now love the weeds in this book but still battle with those in my garden. Those weeds that seem to always be winning. They seem to find many a way.

Different perspective? It is possible to see the beauty and the tenacity in weeds. Seeing beauty where one previously did not. I appreciated Holly Mueller‘s view on this book – that it lets you look at weeds as children do. First, with appreciation.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

What a rich engaging information story book. The reader is quickly wooed by a page of delicious desserts and treats with chocolate as a main ingredient . . . but where does chocolate come from? We travel to the rainforests of Central and South America and learn the very complicated series of natural events that make it possible to harvest the cocoa bean.

Different perspective? The amazing learning here is about how nature is not about isolated events or lone miracles but how a chain of events with each piece dependent on many others is necessary in order for things to happen. This book illustrates this to children in a way that makes this concept truly accessible and clear.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

A Leaf Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Beautiful nonfiction describing and hinting at all of the roles leaves can play – from “rain stopper” to “shade spiller” and many more.

Different perspective? The different perspective here is simple and complicated all at once – stretching the imagination. Absolutely beautiful.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story.

Different perspective? Poses and answers a question readers have not even entertained.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive? Introduced in order of their evolutionary arrival, read poems and facts about such creatures as the squirrel, ants, geckos and diatoms. Fascinating and a lyrical experience all at once. Blending of art, poetry and nonfiction.

Different perspective? We often think about endangered animals (as we should) but this book allows us to think about those creatures and life forms that have survived and thrived. What are their secrets?

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Such a beautifully written and organized book – almost like a nature journal or a scrap book. Read about sixteen birds in particular as you learn about different ways feathers are used. Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.

Different perspective? Stretches the reader’s imagination to think about various ways feathers are useful and needed for various types of birds. Many would not even have been considered.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley

Spectacular photographs showcasing the daily routines that many of us share – all a little different in different places but yet, so much the same.

Different perspective? The more we think we are different, the more we realize we have much in common. A wonderful reminder of this.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons written by Sara Levine with illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth 

How do our bones function within our skeletal system? What about compared to animal skeletons. What if we didn’t have certain bones or what if they were much different than they are? Can you imagine if we had extra bones attached to our spine? We’d have a tail! And what would that be like?

Different perspective? We often don’t think about our bones, their purposes and what it would be like if they were different. Fascinating questions to help us learn about the body (both human and various animals).

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times.

Different perspective? The everyday, human side of genius. Revealed that when we are really good at one thing, we may not be good at other things (like laundry).

boy-who-loved-math

Are there books that fit this theme for you? That transformed your thinking about something? All of these titles to me highlight the amazing power of nonfiction picture books to teach and inspire us. When we are reading and sharing these books, we are always part of the learning journey.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback

This week I celebrate the winding up of our #MockCaldecott process. The books are read. The voting complete. The winners selected. The evaluations written. Now these titles are read, reread and treasured. They are pieces of our reading lives.

I can’t quite figure out how to share just how much this entire process exceeded my expectations. There is normally a LOT of picture book love in my classroom. This took it over the top. In the very best of ways.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

We read each book together as a class over a two week period. Talking. Noticing. Savouring. Rereading.

And then it was time to vote. A rich and thoughtful process. Students revisited many of the titles and carefully considered their votes.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

Students rated each of our eleven titles on a scale of 1-5 for 3 questions:

This book is a book kids will really appreciate. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations in this book are excellent in quality. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations are a great fit for the story being told. 1  2  3  4  5

I loved watching students and adults talk together and share what they noticed.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

As students each selected 3 favourites to write more about, I witnessed collaboration and celebration.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

And . . . quiet independent reflection and rereads.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

Our actual winners were as follows:

Same & Dave Dig a Hole took the medal. We awarded honor status to The Farmer and the Clown, Quest and Draw!

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

These titles received a LOT of love. Like the biggest smile of approval EVER! 🙂

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

And student created stickers . . .

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

Titles that didn’t receive medal/honor status got another kind of love and devotion:

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

And when author/illustrators communicated with us via twitter, it was pretty magical!

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

Comments about favourite titles ranged from favourite parts to insightful observations. Some highlights:

Same & Dave Dig a Hole

“I like the part when they always pass by the big diamonds. Maybe they are too lazy to dig for a long time.”

“I really like when they dig straight down but they miss the pink diamond. The book had very good details. It’s like Sam and Dave fell in a new galaxy. Or like time travel.”

“I love how the dog could smell the diamond.”

“Sam and Dave is a great digging book because the dog can smell gems: one small, two medium three big, four enormous!!”

“That was the biggest diamond that I ever seen in a book!”

Draw!

“I like it because it is wordless. I love wordless books. I think he likes adventures and to do new things.”

“It has great illustrations and so much imaginations! We do lots of imaginations in our class.”

The Farmer and the Clown

“My favourite part is the friendship between the farmer and the clown.”

“My favourite part is when the clown washes his face and then he looks like a cute little baby.”

“My favourite part was when the clown needed to go and the farmer switched hats with him. It showed that on the next page.”

Quest

“This book is awesome! It has so many colours. I like how they draw something and then it comes true.”

“I choose Quest because the illustrations goes with the book. It’s a continuation of the book Journey and this time, they’re working together.”

The Girl and the Bicycle

“My favourite part is when the girl buyed the bicycle for her brother. I like when the girl dropped her bike and hugged the old lady.”

The Right Word

“I really like how the illustrator uses a lot of collage and nothing gets wasted.”

Sparky!

“Sparky was so lazy. He only knew how to sleep. He was an odd pet.”

“All the pictures are about cute and lazy. The pictures really fit with the plot. Sparky is very cute. I like how Sparky is always sleeping. The girl plays games but Sparky always loses.”

“I like the part when the sloth just sat there.”

The Promise

“I wouldn’t appreciate the colours in the ending as much if it didn’t have those dull colours to compare the bright colours to. It was a very good story.”

Reflecting on our learning was taken as seriously as exploring book details.

 Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback There's a Book for That

I asked students to think about three questions. I shared some of their answers under each question.

What did you like about our Mock Caldecott process?

  • Some of the books kept me thinking
  • We got to vote on our favourite books (it’s very hard).
  • I like when we looked at the details
  • It is like a treasure hunt with books!
  • We noticed amazing things!
  • How we got to be judges and that is awesome.
  • I liked listening to all of the stories.
  • I get to rate all of the books!
  • We got to see new books that we haven’t seen before.
  • That we got to be learners and thinkers. I hope we do it again.

What did you learn about your own likes/dislikes/preferences with picture books?

  • I used to like books that were only black white but Quest made me change my mind.
  • I like when there’s a happy ending.
  • I like when they surprise us.
  • I like when there are muted colours and then the next page everything is bright.
  • You can learn a lot with just one picture book.
  • I used to dislike wordless books. Now, I like wordless books.
  • I like bright picture books more than plain picture books.

What did you learn about illustration and illustration styles?

  • Some books – you have to notice the small details.
  • Some illustrators do spotlights of do a small picture and leave a big white page
  • The illustrations have to fit with the plot.
  • They are very creative in books. They do that so kids will think about it.

My favourite response might be this one: “I noticed that all the kids had fun!” this is my celebration – the joy the Mock Caldecott process brought to our room. We are, more than ever, a reading community.

celebrate-link-up

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.

The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

Mock Sibert The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

We are days away from learning which nonfiction book will be awarded the actual Sibert Award for 2015 but today is the day where we learn – here, on Kid Lit Fenzy and on Unleashing Readers which title won our Mock Sibert Award!

And . . .

THE WINNER IS . . . .

 The Right Word The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Such a spectacular choice!

Now we must wait until Monday to find out if the Sibert committee agrees.

We are also happy to announce our giveaway winner. Congratulations to Cathy Ballou Mealey who has chosen Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz  (one of our Mock Sibert titles) as her prize.

It was so much fun discussing and celebrating the fantastic nonfiction titles of 2014 with Alyson and Kellee. Hosting the Mock Sibert allowed us to highlight our favourites. Check out our original Mock Sibert choices here if you missed them:

On Kid Lit Frenzy

On There’s a Book for That

On Unleashing Readers

Thank you to all who participated! We cannot wait to see who wins on Monday!

Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There’s a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Mock Sibert Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Over the past three years, Alyson (of Kid Lit Frenzy) has hosted, and Kellee (of Unleashing Readers) and I have participated in a book challenge pushing ourselves to read more nonfiction picture books. Since we read many of the best nonfiction picture books published each year, in 2014 we decided to start hosting a Mock Sibert Award.

The Sibert Award is given annually to the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year. Although the Sibert Award is not just for picture books, we are going to focus on the nonfiction picture books we feel would be honored or win this year. To be honored/win the Sibert Award, the book must include these important elements and qualities:

  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
  • Appropriate organization and documentation.
  • Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
  • Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
  • Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
  • Respectful and of interest to children.

After reviewing the qualities and elements needed to win the Sibert Award, I chose these five titles as my Mock Sibert Finalists. On February 2nd when the winners are announced, I am hoping some of these picks will be on the list!

This was not an easy task! There were many nonfiction titles I treasured in 2014.

Check out Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers to see what Alyson and Kellee chose as their picks.

In making my final choices, I thought carefully about which titles would be particularly appealing to young readers – which books would inspire wonder, would be engaging and easy to navigate?  Each of these titles stands out to me as ideal nonfiction reading for children.

Listed in order of publishing date

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (March 2014)

This is one of the last nonfiction titles I read in 2014 and the first nonfiction read aloud I brought in to share with my class in January. I love what one child said very early on in our reading: “This book gives us questions but lets us find the answers.” The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story. It describes how the important work on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica allows the farm workers to collect and ship butterfly pupae around the world, while at the same time, respecting and protecting the forest around the farm. A pupa, it turns out, is the perfect package! Incredible photographs of the butterflies at all stages of life are included, as well as photographs of El Bosque Nuevo, the butterfly farm featured in this book.

Not only was this an amazing story, but the learning continues in the final pages of the book. More information is provided about insects and their life cycles and additional details on insect words are explained. There is a detailed glossary, suggestions for further reading and stunning end pages with more photographs of both various pupae and also adult butterflies. Of particular interest to children? A section on helpful hints if you do get to visit a live butterfly exhibit.

 Handle with Care Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (April 2014)

I adore reading Scientist in the Field titles in general but have a special affinity for titles by Montgomery and Bishop. Their relationship with each other, the connection they form with the scientist, the prose, the photographs – all lend themselves to such incredible and engaging stories. I purchased this title as soon as it was published. Cheetahs are so frequently “nominated” by children as a favourite animal. But what is the story of their endangered status and what is being done about it? That is the story that this title showcases – in particular the story of  Laurie Marker and the work she does at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This title is a wonderful blend of information about conservation efforts, facts about cheetahs, the story of the science behind the research and most delightful – an introduction to the various cheetah ambassadors who live at CCF in Nambia. The rescues, the orphaned babies, the rehabilitation, the releases back to the wild – such stories pull the reader strong and fast into the important work of the CCF.

Perfect for older readers, this title would also make a great read aloud for younger students who are learning about endangered animals and efforts being made to protect them. The final chapter of the book actually features the story of Marker’s visits to Rogate Primary School to speak to school children about the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how farmers and cheetahs can coexist in Nambia.

 Chasing Cheetahs Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (September 2014)

This book is like a piece of art. Layer upon layer of history, personal story, word joy and fascinating details – this is how a biography should arrive: all wrapped up to be peeled away piece by piece. Of course it is fitting that the man who imagined the thesaurus was enamoured by lists, language and the perfect word for each occasion. Enchanted by words and compelled to share, Roget dedicated his life to sharing knowledge and his passion for words.

This book is rich in supportive details beyond all of the creative collage elements shared by Sweet and the interesting text and lists by Bryant. I love the two page spread entitled: List of Principal Events. This is a timeline of important events in history happening at the same time as key events in Peter Mark Roget‘s life. What a wonderful way to show children that our personal histories are influenced and shaped by the world we live in. Author and illustrator notes are also full of additional reading pleasure!

The Right Word Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (September 2014)

I know how popular shark books are with children. I often buy books about sharks. I seldom read them. It’s fear factor avoidance. I freely admit that I think sharks are one of the most truly terrifying creatures. But this book captivated me. Its mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites who hunt in the Farallon Islands hunt so successfully, kept me reading and interested to the final pages. This book illustrates how sharks are perfectly adept hunters, at the top of the food chain. Katherine Roy shares specific information about body shape and function, the heat exchange system that gives the shark a warmer brain, its vision, its teeth and those projectile jaws. Against its prey, the shark clearly has many advantages. It is built to be an “absolute predator.”

The factual pages are embedded within a story of shark migration and hunting habits. I can see children studying the diagrams carefully in order to understand exactly why the shark is such a perfect killer. The paintings in this story don’t shy away from depicting the realities of the hunt: swirling waters, a stream of red, jaws full of teeth . . . Images that allow children to feel like they are getting a close up look at the hunt but not so gruesome to make anyone want to hide their eyes. Strangely, I think these paintings are superior to photographs in the sense that they pull the reader in rather than turn anyone away.

 Neigborhood Sharks Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (November 2014)

My childhood was all about snow. Living now on the milder West Coast, I often think about those long winter seasons of snow covered ground that seemed to be endless. Snow days here are all about a fleeting time. Snow balls, snow men and the swish of seldom worn snow pants racing up the toboggan hill before it all melts away. But what about the animals who must survive long winters where snow is not a novelty but a part of life? Is the snow a burden? A hardship? How do they survive? How do they adapt to the long winter months? These are questions that children will find answers to in this stunning collection of poems, lino cut prints and informative paragraphs.

The poems are beautiful and convey details and images that simple text might not. Sidman’s words invite all of our senses into the visualization process. She writes of squishy damp leaf litter where springtails (snow fleas) live, of the ripped chips and thrashing twigs of the beaver’s lodge, and how the baby moose shrugs off the cold and sneezes at the wind. Lured by these images, the reader wants to know more. The descriptive paragraphs about each creature and detailed glossary provide lots of additional information. Allen’s prints layer colour and texture and suggest movement in their details. So appealing!

 Winter Bees Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

After checking out these titles I have featured and Alyson and Kellee’s choices, which book do you think should win the Sibert?

Enter our Rafflecopter (follow the link) to win a copy of one of our picks (your choice!) as well as to vote for which book you think will win.

Please share any additional comments in the comment sections on any of our blogs!