Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.

This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.

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

Kids love cheetahs. 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 theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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

Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.

Dorothea's Eyes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.

How to Swallow a Pig Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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.

Tooth by Tooth Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.

What if you had Animal ears?Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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

Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People

Pink is for Blobfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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.  Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).

 Feathers Not Just for Flying Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.

Separate is Never Equal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!

I, Fly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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!

nfpb2016logo

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit Collection

Last week Elisabeth Ellington put together this list: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction – one that was relevant from K-16 (as she teaches college)

From Elisabeth:

“What does a starter kit need? Representative titles that show the range and diversity of this genre. Books to read independently. Books to read together. Funny books. Serious books. A range of illustration styles. Books to teach writing. Books to teach research. Most of all, books to invite wonder and much more #booklove.”

She then wondered what we might include on our lists. I was so inspired I thought I would make my own. Which was much harder than it seemed. Elisabeth’s criteria made a lot of sense to me – especially thinking about books as invitations to wonder and to think about the world in new ways.

Finally, after a week of changing my mind, AND realizing that I couldn’t fit all of my favourites on one list, I chose ten incredible books.

Nonfiction a starter kit collection NFPB 2015 Ten titles for those new to nonfiction

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. Amazing photographs from Ellen Harasimowicz.

 Handle with Care Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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. This book was absolutely fascinating to my students.

 Teh Boy who Loved Math Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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

This book introduces students to a huge variety of endangered and extinct animals. With some creatures, like the tiger, more details are provided about the animal including reasons for its vulnerable status. Heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. And the illustrations are breathtaking.

can we Save the Tiger? Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Gravity by Jason Chin

Visual story telling, simple text explain a complex concept so that all readers can grasp it. Accessible for young readers and engaging for older readers.

 Gravity Nonfiction Picture Books Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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. Little bookworms on each page extend the learning and provide some humourous commentary,

no-monkeys-no-chocolate Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page 

Learn about the unique symbiotic relationships between specific creatures. Jenkins is, of course, nonfiction royalty and incredibly prolific often creating books with his wife Robin Page. I learned so much in this book – the children I have shared it with have been completely captured by it.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (published 2009)

How can a book about searching for snow leopards be so amazingly interesting when the snow leopards are never actually seen? Montgomery and Bishop tell an incredible tale about these magical and elusive creatures and their champion, scientist Tom McCarthy who has devoted his life’s work to their conservation.

 Saving the Ghost of the Mountain Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Bright Sky Starry City written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro tells the story of little Phoebe who helps her father set up telescopes outside of his shop to observe a special event in the night sky. Saturn and Mars are going to appear together in the sky. She fills the sidewalk with chalk drawings of the solar system and her mind fills with wonders and worries.

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. A mix of fiction and nonfiction with more information in the back matter detailing a number of the concepts from the story.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

Such a story of adventure, misadventure, perseverance and survival. This book is full of so many details to share – learn about exploration, polar landscapes, geography, history – all the while, being captured by one of the most incredible survival stories of our times.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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

What books would you include in your starter kit?

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all

I have been exploring the new B.C. curriculum drafts for Social Studies and thinking about what directions we might take in my Grade 2/3 class next year.

A few of the big ideas:

  • Local actions have global consequences, and global actions have local consequences.
  • Communities are interconnected with their natural environment

Some content items:

  • diverse features of the environment in other parts of Canada and the world
  • responsibilities of global citizenship
  • relationships between people and environment in different communities

All of these things (above) started me thinking about . . . water.

Access to water. Shortages of water. Water scarcity. Water as a human right.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

I think there is so much to learn here. So many questions. Such a relevant and necessary topic. And of course, I immediately started making a book list. Here are titles I may share in my room this year. Other suggestions? Please share them in the comment section.

Through these books, I hope we can both learn about and celebrate all that is water.

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 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson 

All-the-Water-in-the-World Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder

 Every Last Drop Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley

 A Cool Drink of Water Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth written by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Rosemary Woods

One Well Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Poetry (with a water theme):

Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas with illustrations by Violeta Dabija

Water Can Be Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Songs of the Water Boatman written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange (pond life)

Songs of the Waterboatman Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs illustrated by Meilo So 

Water Sings Blue Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Relevant biographies:

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola

Life in the Ocean Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret 

manfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all There's a Book for That

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino 

Cousteau Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Water connects us all 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!

#nfpb2015

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!

#nfpb2015

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.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fourteen favourites (Part 1)

As 2014 comes to a close, avid book lovers and book bloggers start amassing favourites. As I looked over the close to 150 nonfiction picture book titles I have read this year, I realized that there are many to highlight. So, I have decided to do two top fourteen lists (in honour of 2014). This one contains my favourite titles read in 2014 but with a publication date of 2013 or earlier. Next week I will share my favourite fourteen titles published in 2014.

Favourite Nonfiction of 2014

Shared alphabetically by author:

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret (published 2008)

A gorgeous introduction to Cousteau and his passion for the underwater world. I shared my students’ responses to this title here.

manfish

Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (published 2013)

Written in conversational, humorous style, this title encourages us to pay a little more attention to the natural world in general and to the beauty of birds in particular.

look up!

Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb (published 2011)

An inspiring story about Dorothy Thomas, an absolute book hero. True testament to how books change lives and connect community.

miss dorothy

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White (published in 2011)

This book introduces students to a huge variety of endangered and extinct animals. With some creatures, like the tiger, more details are provided about the animal including reasons for its vulnerable status.

can we Save the Tiger?

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (published 2013)

Lita Judge’s illustrations are so rich. They inform. They amuse. And they delight. Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur.

dinosaurs

One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley (published 2009)

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

one-world

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (published 2009)

How can a book about searching for snow leopards be so amazingly interesting when the snow leopards are never actually seen? Montgomery and Bishop tell an incredible tale about these magical and elusive creatures and their champion, scientist Tom McCarthy who has devoted his life’s work to their conservation.

snow-leopard

Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff; illustrated by Gijisbert van Frankenhuyzen (published 2013)

Jasper is a bear that was rescued by Jill Robinson (the author) and her Animals Asia team and brought to a sanctuary in China. Jill describes Jasper as courageous and loving; a symbol of forgiveness and hope.

jaspersstory

Volcano Rising written by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Susan Swan (published 2013)

One of the very best, if not the best nonfiction picture book I have read on volcanoes. Two layers of text (one section with more details for those who want to read more information) and incredible illustrations.

Volcano Rising 2

Songs of the Water Boatman written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange (published 2005)

Come to the pond and experience it like you have never imagined through vivid images, fascinating facts and gorgeous illustrations.

Songs of the Waterboatman

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange (published 2010)

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive?

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors

Under the Snow written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R Bergum (published 2009)

Informative and beautifully illustrated. Feel like you are peeking into winter hiding places of animals and creatures that seemed to disappear.

Under the Snow

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (published 2013)

This title inspired some amazing discussion in my classroom. An important biography about determination, changing general opinion and beliefs and following a dream.

WomenDoctors_cvr_lorez

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Meda

So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops.

parrots

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 142/65 complete!

Next week I will share my top nonfiction titles for 2014. 14 of them 🙂

Monday December 22nd, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

My favourite reading photo of the week is this picture of two girls buddy reading together at the carpet. I loved watching them take turns reading pages and making predictions about the story.

Monday December 22nd, 2014 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.

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Warning: This post contains a lot of picture books! I tried to only feature my favourites of the week. I had a lot of favourites! I will try to be very brief in my commentary.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo

Picture book perfection. LOVE this title and everything it says about home and family.

Nana in the City Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Blizzard by John Rocco

A title full of different things for different readers – nostalgia for a different, simpler time, adventure imagined, celebration of family and neighbourhood and just plain wow of winter and weather. Rocco is fast becoming one of my very favourite book creators.

Blizzard Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Lion vs Rabbit by Alex Latimer

Just saying, this is one clever rabbit. And he is more than he seems. Lots of layers to this story.

Lion vs Rabbit Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Songs of the Water Boatman written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange

Come to the pond and experience it like you have never imagined through vivid images, fascinating facts and gorgeous illustrations.

Songs of the Water Boatman Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

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

Illustrations to get lost in, absolutely stunning. Fascinating to have a glimpse into the thinking and passions of Roget. Inspires list making of many kinds. Looking forward to sharing this with my students.

The Right Word Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The next four picture books were donated to Seymour School by author Hiromi Goto – I was able to take them home to read before they become part of our collection in January. Thank you Hiromi!

Wow Wow and Haw Haw George written by George Murray and illustrated by Michael Pittman

An adaptation of a Celtic legend. Enjoyed the colour palette, the connection to nature and the pacing of the story. I know this will be a hugely engaging read aloud.

Wow Wow and Haw Haw Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

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

I am a big fan of Godkin’s information story books. I always learn many new things and this book was no exception.

Skydiver- Saving the Fastest Bird in the World Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Tweedles Go Electric written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Marie Lafrance 

Lots of fun with the energetic and charismatic Tweedles and their choices that were very much ahead of their time. History. “Green” priorities. Charming energy to this one!

The Tweedles Go Electric Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress written by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malefant 

A title about diversity and gender stereotypes. Perfect title to spark discussions about acceptance, individuality and classroom community.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Duck in the Fridge by Jeff Mack

Never expected a bed time story about the joy of the read aloud to begin with a duck in the fridge and end with a household full of animals and the power of a story!

Duck in the Fridge Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham

On route to visit his friend, mouse trades away all of the pieces of cake he was planning to deliver. No worries, some more trades can happen to find some ingredients to bake a new cake! Loved how the “offerings” on route back to make a cake were not the ones you would have suspected. Clever.

A Piece of Cake Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

this ORQ (he cave boy) written by David Elliot and illustrated by Lori Nichols 

A “child wants pet” “parent says no” story from “cave people time” Absolutely adorable.

this ORQ (He Cave Boy) Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Flat Rabbit by Bárður Oskarsson

You know, I like this book – almost gave it a higher rating but thought intended audiences – children-  might not know what to do with this title. Is that because we protect them from such subjects (death)? Not sure. There is something honest and real about this book. And the end, though abrupt on first read, is then somehow full of our fragility. Not many picture books allow the characters to just not really know. And leave it there . . .

The Flat Rabbit Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

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

Incredible. Sharks are probably the most terrifying of all creatures to me and yet I found myself fascinated and full of questions reading this book.

 Neighborhood Sharks Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

In other reading:

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

Ideal to read and discuss a chapter at a time. Eastern philosophy bound up for the very young.

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Super Lexi is not a Fan of Christmas by Emma Lesko

This series featuring Lexi by Emma Lesko is an important addition to our school and classroom libraries. Lexi reminds us that kids are unique, we can support them with flexibility and that we all have something to teach each other. I like how this story gives kids permission to find the holiday “hoopla” varying degrees of overwhelming! Realistic school setting and nice job with friendship dynamics.

Super Lexi is Not a Fan of Christmas Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle

I have discovered so many beautiful novels in verse as of late. This title, by Engle, inspired by her Grandmother is full of courage, family and a rich history.

Wild Book Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

I finally picked this book up after weeks of setting it aside and enjoyed its conclusion. Quiet pace and some beautiful images – a story of a young boy and his strong connection to his grandfather.

The Turtle of Oman Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney Illustrated by Shane W. Evans 

A truly beautiful and important book. Highly recommended. Another novel in verse –  heavy in loss and anguish, light in hope and dreams of new possibilities.

the red pencil Monday December 22nd, 2014 There's a Book for That

Next up? I am reading A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray I have a huge list beyond this! Likely after this I will be balancing thin with thick novels in my TBR pile trying to reach my goal of 100 novels by 2015! Hopelessly ambitious, that’s me!

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 83/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 591/650 books read (41 books behind)

#MustReadin2014: 21/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 136/65 complete