Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction in 2017


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday begins again! I am so excited to be participating in this challenge!

Link to host Alyson Beecher‘s blog Kid Lit Frenzy to read about all of the nonfiction titles being shared. This year the image for the challenge was created by Sarah S. Brannen.  I think it’s pretty perfect!

I am setting a goal to read at least 50 new-to-me nonfiction picture books this year. While I may not be reading as many books as usual, I plan to be utilizing many of the books I have read and loved so much in the past. Often I ended up purchasing titles and wasn’t able to use all of them in the classroom because of teaching a younger grade. I have read numerous favourite titles in depth with my new Grade 4 and 5 classroom and continue to be impressed with the learning that happens and the future learning that is inspired.

The perfect example? Tomorrow I will be sharing Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann (2016) as part of my Mock Caldecott unit.


It is one of 12 titles I chose this year. The nonfiction titles are on the list were intentional. Not only are these beautifully illustrated books but they are books that remind us that learning engages us on so many levels. Nonfiction picture books inform. They make us question and wonder. The visuals add another level of learning – giving us closeups, revealing aspects of an animal or place that a photograph just might not capture.


I am especially excited to share Giant Squid because it not only provides us with questions, it leaves us with questions. We learn that there is much not yet known about these deep sea giants. Getting all of the answers can be satisfying. Realizing that there are answers not yet known plants a quest for knowledge in our students that we consistently hope for them. We want them stopping to be awed. Shaking their heads. Protesting – “But. . . ” “How come. . . ?” “Why . . . ?” Being driven to go learn more.

I know this book will lead to research. Looking for images. For videos. For more . . .

Beautiful books like this one are introductions. First access points. The beginning of lots of learning ahead.

I am excited about another year being committed to reading nonfiction picture books! I benefit just as much as my students!

Book Buying Resistance: Slice of Life #17


Book Buying Resistance #sol16

This post is all about how I resist spending a lot of money on picture books.

Run far and hide your eyes if you think this will help you save money. It won’t.

Confession #1 I am terrible at not buying books.

Confession #2 I will actually likely use this post to try to influence your book spending (costing you, not saving you money, to be clear)

Confession #3 I have absolutely no advice on how to not buy books.

Confession #4 I lured you here under false pretenses with that title

Confession #5 This post isn’t about that at all

Is this where I should be having people sign a waiver?

I will now stop numbering the confessions as I reveal a lot of things about my relationship with book ownership. You might start to think about some particular adjectives: compulsive, addicted, hopeless, done for. That’s okay. I am not in any kind of denial about this.

To begin, I often dream about books. There are days where I wake up and think, I really need a bookstore visit. The craving gets worse if I ignore it. It is often fuelled by strong coffee. There is a bookstore that takes me 14 minutes to walk to and I pass a number of coffee places along the way. I am sure you know how that ends.

There is also a dedicated children’s book store in Vancouver called Kidsbooks. As you might imagine, I love it. It takes me longer to get to than 14 minutes. Thankfully, I can’t walk. Well, at least not walk home with a bag full of newly acquired books. When I enter this bookstore, I walk around the store a few times before I let myself touch any book. I need to absorb it all. I will be here for a while. This circling lets me plan my browsing. Then I begin to gather a pile. Before I sit to read and make choices, I consult a list (of course I have a list – I have a book of lists!) to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Then I begin to read. Usually, I get up many more times because I have remembered some other “must look at” title. Yes, a visit here always takes a while. A wonderful while.

Certain book lists and blogs do me in. Travis Jonker (of 100 Scope Notes) does preview posts by publishers and seasons. I resist opening these emails. To call my resistance futile, big understatement. Dylan Teut (who blogs at Mile High Reading) just completed Part 5 of 2016 picture book releases. You realize that means there are four other lists! He actually alerts me on twitter every time he publishes a new part! It is rare that I can read reviews by Margie Myers-Culver of Librarian’s Quest or Donna McKinnon of 32 pages and not come away wanting at least one book. Minh Le of Bottom Shelf Books shares a best of the year post every year. I always check to see what I might have missed. His lists are amazing! Alyson Beecher sends me “Have you see this one?” tweets – usually beautiful new or soon to be released nonfiction titles. Almost always, I am convinced that they should soon be mine.

I also have specific rationales which I use to collect more books. These seem absolutely convincing. At least, they convince me every time. I am doing a Mock Caldecott unit? I really should own most of the titles. Books that make us laugh? Every classroom library needs more of these. Friendship themes? My students constantly ask for more. A title that gently tackles an important issue? Irresistable. Nonfiction is the worst. Sadly, too many of these books go out of print too quickly. If I like it and imagine using it with a class, I buy it. I am at a conference where the author or illustrator is signing? Do I really even need to explain this one?

Yes, yes, I do try all of those things others suggest. Those money saving things. They all backfire.

There is this one: Go to the public library. After all, those books are free. I do. I bring home stacks and stacks of books. I stalk the new releases display. I don’t even feel guilty when I empty most of it into my bag. We bring library books back after all. The thing is, when certain books are in my house for a while, I become certain, that I actually need them to reside there permanently. This means book shopping ahead.

How about: Read a number of titles while at the bookstore. It isn’t necessary to buy them all. This too, I do. And yes, of course, it helps shrink the list of “books that should probably be mine” but. . . Some books, when I leave them at the bookstore, call to me. I shouldn’t have left them. My advice on this is firm: when you fall in love, take them home or they will haunt you. Marilyn’s Monster did this to me. So did Sidewalk Flowers, Herman and Rosie, The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have, The Tea Party in the Woods . . . I remember the pull. I couldn’t fight it.

The “for the price of that book, you could have bought . . . ” strategy is completely ridiculous to me. Most things I might buy instead will be gone or wear out: coffee, dinner, new shoes, another pair of black jeans . . . Not much has the staying power of a picture book.

Sometimes, publishers send me books. This should mean I shop less. Books into my classroom = less shopping. Nope. I soon manipulate the logic. My thinking goes something like this: “I didn’t have to spend the time or money getting those books so I have more time or money to get these other books.” Books + more books = lots of books! See? Hopeless.

But this is the thing: every book that comes into my collection is shared. Sometimes, multiple times. I own each one because I love it. I have multiple reasons to read it or put it in the hands of a reader. I use each one to grow readers, to spread book love, to share an incredible story, to wow with a beautiful illustration, to create community. Books, in my world, the world of children, change everything. Picture books don’t cost me. They enrich my life and the life of my students in countless ways.

Book buying resistance? Thankfully, I have none.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection

Many thanks to Alyson Beecher, Melissa Stewart and Margie Culvers who answered my call when I asked for favourite titles on the theme of endangered and extinct animals. Their suggestions helped me collect more books to share with my students. We have been reading through many of these titles and it has led to lots of writing, talk and rich questions.

I thought I would share my list with all of you here and welcome suggestions for more titles if you have some to add. Please share in the comments section. I chose 20 titles that I have, will or could share with a Grade 3/4 class.

Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Almost Gone by Steve Jenkins

Almost Gone Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Abayomi The Brazilian Puma by Darcy Pattison and Kitty Harvill

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma- The True Story of an Orphaned cub Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien

 Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection 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 Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

can we Save the Tiger? Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

 Ape Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Looking for Miza by Juliana Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Paula Kahumbu

 Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

SkyDiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World by Celia Godkin

Skydiver- Saving the Fastest Bird in the World Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Tale of a Great White Fish: A Stugeon Story by Maggie De Vries illustrated by Renné Benoit 

Tale of a Great White Fish Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart illustrated by Higgins Bond 

Place for Butterflies Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke

sloth Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Ice Bear (In the Steps of the Polar Bear) written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Gary Blythe

ice bear Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Here Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan

here come the humpbacks Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Wandering Whale Sharks by Susumu Shingu

Wandering Whale Sharks Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor

Galapagos George Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Jimmy the Joey by Deborah Lee Rose and Susan Kelly

Jimmy the Joey Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! Written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Annie Patterson

Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff; illustrated by Gijisbert van Frankenhuyzen

Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange  *creatures that are NOT endangered but survivors POEMS

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Endangered Animals: Building a read aloud collection There's a Book for That

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!


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fourteen favourites of 2014 (Part 2)

I am thrilled to share my favourite fourteen nonfiction titles of 2014!

2014 Nonfiction Picture Books

I love books. As in absolutely adore, frequently gush over, make piles, make lists, always reading kind of #booklove devotion. If you had asked me to talk favourites a few years ago, a nonfiction title would have made it on the list here and there. I have always appreciated the power of the nonfiction read aloud but . . . it wasn’t until I began participating in the nonfiction picture book challenges organized by Alyson Beecher (from Kid Lit Frenzy) that I have become absolutely smitten with nonfiction titles.

I have been busily tweeting about this as of late . . .

I am thrilled to renew my commitment to nonfiction reading by participating in the #nfpb2015 challenge! The more nonfiction I read, the more I learn and the more my students ultimately benefit.


More about my favourites of 2014. If these titles are not on your already read and loved or must read radar, consider adding them to the list!

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas


The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Right Word

Gravity by Jason Chin


Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton


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


Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill


Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 


Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page


Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents by Lita Judge

Born in the Wild

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 


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


Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

winter bees

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

star stuff

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


I have included picture books here but must also note that Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop was an absolute favourite of the year.


I am also pleased to report that I more than met my goal of reading 65 nonfiction picture books this year. Grand total: 144 titles! 🙂

What are your favourites of the year?

Nonfiction conversations: Talking nonfiction picture book biographies with kids

When I read aloud nonfiction titles to my class, it takes a long time. Often, we stretch a read aloud over weeks. Lots of reading aloud is happening in our room – a novel, various picture books, selections from titles we are book talking and always, always, one or more nonfiction titles.

No, my students don’t forget what was happening between read aloud sessions. Connections are made in the days between. We pick the title up and we loop back into our previous wonders, observations and learning. We bring more to the next time we read because there has been space for more thinking, more questions. And always, our nonfiction read alouds are titles we use to talk and share our thinking.

Turn and Talk. Share out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Lots and lots and lots of talk.

We retell. We predict. We infer. We look for evidence. We list questions. We share observations.

The talking is rich so the learning is rich.

It sounds like:

“I noticed that . . . ”

“But we are still wondering why. . . ”

“Last time we learned _______ so .  . . ”

“My partner and I have a question still.”

“Oh! Now I get how . . . ”

“This is connected to what _____ just said: . . .”

So when I finish a nonfiction title, the book has become part of our classroom community. Our shared knowledge. Our shared thinking. Our layers of learning. Often, when I read the last page, the students clap. They jiggle about. We have come out the other side a little more enriched with knowing more about our world. We are celebrating.

Am I reading a variety of nonfiction titles aloud? I think so. I am so very conscious of this thanks to the conversations I have had via twitter and blogs with authors and educators who read, write and share nonfiction titles. I am particularly indebted to author Melissa Stewart and educator Alyson Beecher for stretching my thinking. When I think back to titles we have read deeply and meaningfully, I find narrative non fiction like biographies and nature themed books feature big. But I also read a lot of expository titles. And I often share snippets from what Melissa Stewart calls Fast Facts titles. See her Pinterest pages for specific examples.

So if I am exposing my students to a variety of styles, what do they think? Are they enjoying the genres we are reading? Starting with picture book biographies, I asked 🙂

 The Tree Lady  Nonfiction conversations: Talking nonfiction picture book biographies with kids

Yesterday, we finished The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry. When I closed the book, there was the reaction I love. The big smiles. The big breath in. The sitting up straighter. The perfect time to grab their thinking while the reactions were fresh. I asked questions and wrote down all of these thoughtful responses. Sharing here:

Me: “So what words describe how we are feeling right now?”

Class: “Hopeful.” “Energized.” “Joy” “Like standing up and connecting to the Earth.” “Smarter.” “I like Kate so much. It happened a long time ago but her soul probably still speaks for trees.” “She was one person who did so much.”

Me: “This is one of many picture book biographies we have shared together. Last year we read Me . . . Jane (by Patrick McDonnell), Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell (written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman), The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos (written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham), and many others. Why biographies? Why do you think I share these with you? Why do you like these titles? What are you thinking?”

Class: “I like to know about what other people did.” “I like those books that tell the story of someone who can’t but then they did.” “Kids can learn a lot.” “It inspires us.” “I respect people who helped us in the past.” “I feel grateful.”

Me: “Why do you think authors keep writing biographies?”

Class: “We are really interested. They know we will be.” “People can know about the past.” “It’s so we can know that one person can change things.” “So we will know history.” “Kids should know how things have transformed.”

Me: “How do these books make you feel?”

Class: “They show me not to be scared.” “They make me feel happy and inspired.” “Yeah, lots of inspired.” “People can do big things.” “I am learning history. About people who changed a city, or a country or the world!” “I like learning so much.” “This book also teaches us about community and dreams. We should think about that.” “Yeah. Cuz we will grow up and be adults. So we need to learn lots now.”

Me: “Okay. But here’s the thing, I usually read these titles to you. Then, a lot of you read them again. Or take them out from the library. But . . . would you choose to read these books on your own?”

Class: “Yes! Because I get to know facts and share them with other people.” “I don’t know where to find them in all libraries.” “Yes, because now I know there is lots of science in them.” “The librarians should make a big sign and an arrow – learn about interesting people in these books!” “It’s books that inspire you. We like that.” “It’s all new stuff. It’s nonfiction. I love nonfiction!”

Me: “But what if I had never read any picture book biographies to you? Would you choose to read them on your own?”

Class: A pause happened.

Then everyone started talking at once and I couldn’t write down specific comments. But I can summarize. Most students said that teachers need to show their students about these books. My language/their sentiment: Lots of exposure to this genre as classroom read alouds (where you get to talk and write and think together) will hook kids on this genre. Many expressed that they like that these books are written like a story that they can just settle in and at the same time, learn facts and be inspired. Some said they wouldn’t like to read a biography organized like other nonfiction titles with fact boxes, etc. because it would distract them from the person’s story. Some pointed out that some of the language would be too hard for some kids to read on their own. So these titles could first be read alouds and then be books they could read on their own when they were older. “Because we won’t forget about them,” one student added.

Me: “Should we read more picture book biographies this year?”

Class: “Yes!” “Six thumbs up!” “Like next week?”

My learning? It is still settling in. But a few things stand out.

  • It is imperative that we expose children to a variety of nonfiction genres
  • We need to name the genre. Talk about its purpose. Discuss how we feel and what we have learned.
  • Stories hook us. Stories that are full of learning and one particular personal story touch us deeply.
  • Conversation with children about what we are reading and talking about is so very rich

I wrote a series of blog posts in the summer about teaching with nonfiction titles. This post: Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together highlights some of what I am trying to emphasize here.

I plan to engage in conversations with my students about other nonfiction genres and share their thinking. Please let me know if this is helpful or interesting to you as you think about read aloud choices, nonfiction purchases, instruction around reading and sharing nonfiction titles.

*Note, my class is a Grade 3/4 class that I looped from a Grade 2/3/4 last year.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1

I recently had a conversation with author Melissa Stewart about sharing nonfiction titles in the classroom. We were discussing ways to introduce more nonfiction titles to our young learners.

I started thinking about some of the things I do, looked back through blog posts and classroom photos and realized that I was potentially going to write one of the longest blog posts ever written! For ease of reading (and writing!), I have broken things up into three distinct posts and will share these over the next week:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together (Updated: this post is now split into 2 parts)

3A: Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read

3 B: Reading and working with the texts 

The intention with each of these posts is to share a practical “how to” list of how to read more, celebrate more and use more nonfiction picture books in the late primary/early intermediate classroom. For reference, last year I taught a Grade 2/3/4 class.

Always, my goal is to increase an interest in and a love of nonfiction reading. I am sure that many of you are already doing many of these things – probably many of them differently and better than me! But it is always informative to read about what is happening in other classrooms to help us think more about what is happening in our own. Please feel free to offer suggestions and ideas in the comments.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Know your books.

There are so many fantastic nonfiction titles being published and keeping current is important if we want to nurture a love of nonfiction in our students. One of the biggest issues for teachers wanting to share more nonfiction with their students is where to begin. What books are out there? Are they a good fit for specific grades/readers/interest levels? What books are wonderful read alouds? Which books are ideal for independent reading at different reading and interest levels?

It is hard to know where to start. Best piece of advice – start with the educators, authors and illustrators who have not only started but are immersed in the land of nonfiction books. Let their passion and knowledge inspire and inform your choices.

  • Read blogs (see a list of recommendations at the bottom of this post)
  • Check out the new titles in your favourite bookstore and public library.
  • Pay attention to best of lists (see below) and award winners (again see below).
  • If you are on Pinterest, follow boards that highlight nonfiction titles

Read nonfiction picture books for your own enjoyment.

We are passionate about titles that we have read and enjoyed. Set a goal to read more nonfiction titles and you won’t be able to resist sharing. One of the best things I did was join Alyson Beecher‘s nonfiction picture book challenge last year. Alyson challenged educators to read more nonfiction picture books and share updates by participating in the #nfpb20i4 (this year’s twitter hashtag) meme. Here is a link to Alyson’s challenge for 2014. The best thing about participating in this challenge is being part of a reading community who is excited and passionate to share nonfiction titles with students and educators.

Bring these books into the classroom!

Children need to look up and find nonfiction titles in their learning environment, not just associate nonfiction with one section of the library where you go to learn research skills. I regularly rotate nonfiction from the library into my classroom displays. But I also purchase new nonfiction titles for our classroom collection. When I buy new books, I am conscious of making sure I have both fiction and nonfiction titles. Sometimes I go shopping strictly to add new nonfiction books that represent current student interests. Students will often ask me to find more titles about a particular topic or “a book that is like ________”(some current favourite). In my classroom this year, there was a lot of interest in insects, gardens and life in the ocean. I keep a little notebook full of sticky note requests and take it with me when I go book shopping. Often I take photos of a book shopping spree so these pictures help illustrate the balance in my book purchases.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That Book talk nonfiction books.

I keep a basket of books to book talk by my chair at our carpet area. The students know that they aren’t supposed to peek and what is in the basket is always a source of anticipation and excitement. There are always fiction and nonfiction books in this basket so that I ensure I am giving equal “rave about/celebrate” talks to both genres. On certain days I will just book talk some new nonfiction. Other days I book talk a variety of titles. The consistent thing, I am book talking every day. If I have limited time, I set a timer and grab a pile and challenge myself to “sell” those books before the timer goes off. The students think this is hilarious. I think it is highly effective because about 95% of the time all of the books have been nabbed and landed in student book boxes or in reader’s hands by the time I am finished.

What do I highlight when I book talk nonfiction titles? Some of these things (depending on time available and purpose)

  • information about the author and illustrator/photographer: What motivated them to write the book? Have we read their work before?
  • some of the features in the book i.e. maps, timelines, close up photography, etc. I also use this time, when possible to review how to use some of the features in the book. For example, I might be sharing a book about grasshoppers. I will wonder aloud how high they can jump. I then ask students about how I might find that information. They might suggest the index, table of contents or page headings. We would go through the process of actually looking to see if we could find the answer to my question.
  • ways to interact with the book i.e.  skipping to a life cycle chart as an overview of the stages of life before reading sections in more detail
  • ways to buddy read a title (i.e. how to take turns reading sections/what kind of questions that might be asked, turn taking looking up words in the glossary, etc.)
  • suggestions of other books in the room on the same topic/theme or asking students if they can think of any other books in the room on same topic (as they get to know our library better I do this more and more)

I also might

  • read aloud an interesting fact or two
  • share my favourite photo/illustration and ask a few questions about it
  • “quiz” the students and take guesses before sharing information in the book i.e. “Does anyone want to guess how long a mountain gorilla lives in the wild?”
  • read aloud a passage that reinforces something we have just learned so that students know that they can increase their knowledge on a topic we already know something about

Think about your book displays

I have a shelf of nonfiction titles right beside our carpet area where we gather for many lessons and read alouds. I believe that proximity leads to curiosity so I was strategic about placing these titles close.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

I also use a tiny bulletin board in another area of the classroom to display the book covers of the nonfiction books we are in the middle of reading or have just finished. Because we do so much reading, writing and talking about these titles, I like highlighting the covers in a place of importance.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

On top of one set of bookshelves is a display stand of nonfiction titles where I can display books with the covers facing out. It sits beside an identical stand of fiction picture books. This is deliberate – to convey the message to students that we read widely – choosing both fiction and nonfiction titles.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

Also near the carpet area is an every changing book display of books from the classroom and school library that we have recently read or book talked. As you can see in the photo below, both fiction and nonfiction feature prominently. We know from our own reactions when we walk into a library space that our eye is drawn to books that are displayed covers out. Be conscious of what students see when they look around the classroom.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

My students also see that I have bins dedicated to nonfiction titles in my own teaching areas. They get excited about peeking into these bins and making read aloud requests.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

One of my favourite memories of this school year was after we read Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman Later, I found one of my students snooping through my Picture Book Biography bin. “Do you have any more of those girls can’t or people can’t kind of books?” she asked. Of course, I did. We went on to read Every Day is Malala Day and our discussions and learning continued.

Every Day is Malala Day Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books: Part 1 There's a Book for That

Further reading/information:

Blogs that highlight a lot of nonfiction titles:

KidLitFrenzy and all of the blogs that regularly participate in the #nfpb2014 challenge. All of my posts from 2014 are here and from 2013, here.

The Nonfiction Detectives

Celebrate Science

Librarian’s Quest

Delightful Children’s Books

Under the category of picture books Mary Ann Reilly shares fantastic themed lists by subject and grade level ranges on her blog Between the By-Road and the Main Road

Best of Lists:

The Nerdy Book Club: Nonfiction Picture Book Winners:  2013 winners

School Library Journal’s Best Nonfiction of the year: Here is the 2013 list

Waking Brain Cell’s best nonfiction list: Top 20 2013 titles 


Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

Cook Prize (STEM) Award 

Pinterest boards featuring nonfiction picture books:

My boards: Nonfiction and Wishlist: nonfiction picture books

2014 Best Children’s Nonfiction by Tasha Saecker

Best Non-fiction for Kids by Pragmatic Mom

Great Nonfiction for Kids by Choice Literacy

Melissa Stewart has started a board that highlights blogs that share lots of nonfiction: Blogs Worth Reading

Some posts on my blog which feature a number of favourite nonfiction titles:

Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

If you are a blogging teacher or a reader of blogs consider following and participating in the #nfpb2014 hashtag and link up on the blog KidLit Frenzy every Wednesday. There is also a Nonfiction 10 for 10  blogging event that has run for the last two years in February. This is hosted by Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge. Follow on twitter with the #nf10for10 hashtag. My #nf10for10 post this year was The Wonder of Women. It featured 10 picture book biographies about women in history.

I am passionate about sharing lots of nonfiction titles with my students and increasing their excitement about reading nonfiction books.  I welcome any feedback. In particular, please feel free to suggest favourite blogs, lists and Pinterest boards that others might enjoy.

Happy nonfiction reading!

Next post? Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud