Nonfiction favourites from 2016

While I haven’t read my usual numbers of nonfiction titles this year, I have read enough to have some clear favourites. Here are my top ten of 2016 (published in 2016)

Looking for some incredible nonfiction? I highly recommend all of these. In fact I own all but two of these titles and plan to remedy that soon. All of these books are titles I can see multiple reasons to use over and over in a classroom. A real reason to celebrate them here.

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

An incredible title with layer upon layer of stories and illustrations about a beloved author for so many. This is a longer picture book biography (176 pages) perfect for both adults and students.

some Writer!

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Simply beautiful. I featured this book here

Cloth Lullaby

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

I look forward to sharing this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange with my students later in the year. I plan also to share these photos she took in a Japanese Internment camp.

Dorothea's Eyes

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The art in this book is beyond, beyond. Absolutely stunning. An incredible biography made accessible to children. I particularly appreciated the back matter here. Information on Motifs and symbolism in Basquiat’s work is something I will certainly share with students when we explore this book. Steptoe’s author’s note is very important too.


Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.


Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that. I highlighted this book here

Tooth by Tooth 1

The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

The ideal blend of mesmerizing art and story that informs and prompts more questions. I plan to use this title with other books on polar bears and videos about the shrinking ice in the Arctic seas.


Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

I featured this book here (lots of ideas for how to use in the classroom). This book has been a huge hit in my classroom and we have gone on to become fans of Animals for Smart People videos. You will never think the same about pink again.


Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

The photographs, the lyrical language . . . absolutely captivating.


Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

As always – such interesting information. All communicated via infographics? Perfect.


Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!


Monday August 8th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. During the summer, these photos will be about getting my classroom library up and running for a room full of readers in September. Moving spaces and grade levels and sourcing bookshelves has been a lot of work!

So basically going from this (the classroom collection of books sat in these boxes until the floors were done and I could completely unpack).

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

To the beginning of unpacking and organizing . . .

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

One shelf all ready for books – this will be where nonfiction titles end up.

Monday August 8th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.


On the Blog:

For Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Titles I would buy right this second

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby

Books I enjoyed:

Return by Aaron Becker

This trilogy is very special. I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in the first two titles. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.


Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

This has a Blueberries for Sal vibe to it. Since that was my favourite book from my childhood, I will say I loved many elements in this title!

Explorers of the Wild

 The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora

Non-book-appreciating monsters do not make for a peaceful reading environment. Let’s just say that all works out in the end and that there is a lot of book love in this book!

The Not So Quiet Library

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Now, I must admit, I do appreciated tidy and neat environments. But, I can also be productive with mess all around me. This title shows us what happens when we want the wrong locations to be too neat and clean.


Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

When a little one hates reading because reading does not come easily . . . When there is an opportunity to read aloud to a dog . . . Lots can shift with the right opportunities.

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

The Toad by Elise Gravel

The seventh in the Disgusting Critters collection – I was thrilled to find this at the bookstore the other day!

The Toad by Elise Gravel

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner

I think I might like this Marty McGuire title best of all. Marty is so earnest and often has the worst luck but I sure appreciate her spirit. A wonderful series of early middle grade novels.

Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!2

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

I featured this title for nonfiction Wednesday – see the link above. Just stunning.

Cloth Lullaby

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda  by Tom Angleberger  

Okay, yes, it’s true. I had never read this book. I own two copies. My children have read this book. But me, nope! And then I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I have a class of grade 4/5s this fall and want to make sure I am up to date on many middle grade titles. This is middle grade perfection.

Strange Case

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds 

Jason Reynolds writes incredible characters. Unforgettable believable characters. In this middle grade title, he delivers characters and relationships in a rich, quietly humorous story full of questions, wisdom and love.

As Brave as You

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 31/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 213/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 31/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 26/50 books read

Up next? I am reading a number of titles including Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby

Sometimes a book is just too beautiful to be believed. Such is the case with this biography of Louise Bourgeois.

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Abrams Books for Young Readers March 2016)

Cloth Lullaby Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cloth Lullaby There's a Book for That

Everything about this book is beauty. The navy fabric feeling spine detail. The colours and patterns throughout the book. Red has never seemed so delicate. The blues. The lines. The depiction of Bourgeois’ art. Arsenault is brilliant.

And then there is the story. I think this might well be my favourite picture book biography of the year. Novesky writes in such a lyrical way that reading the text truly feels like being lulled by a lullaby. The reader is pulled into the story of a young girl on the meandering road by a river that leads her to life as an artist. We learn about her strong connection and devotion to her mother (Maman). Her growing skill as an expert weaver in the family business. Her aptitude for mathematics.

Louise’s greatest pieces – huge sculptures made of steel, bronze and marble were of spiders and were woven into being from the grief she felt at losing her beloved mother.

The connection between weaving and repairing, weaving and creating, weaving and healing are literally woven through the story.

So often we hear how artists create art in response to strong emotions. This book reveals how sadness and grief are transformed into powerful and stunning pieces.

A detailed author’s note is included in the back of the book

Highly recommended.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!