Celebration: The Book Cycle

On the day when everyone is celebrating love – I am going to celebrate book love. How lucky I am to be surrounded by it!

It made it onto my Valentine envelopes

Celebration: The Book Cycle There's a Book for That

I get to witness it all week – in Reading Workshop, during quiet reading and most adorably, during buddy reading with the Ks.

Celebration: The Book Cycle There's a Book for That

This week we wrote about our classroom library and one little reader’s writing was a beautiful gift of celebration of how much we love books and how much I love books.

I celebrate it here:

I like that in our classroom library, we never say there is too many books because you can never have enough books!! Everybody likes every single book because we have so many memories like reading with our friends or this is the book I read when I’m sad. Ms. Gelson always book talks books which means she’s adding more books to the library which also means we have to make room. Ms. Gelson bought a whole new shelf for nonfiction!!! By the end of this year, we’ll be drowning in books 

You know how there’s a butterfly cycle and a blah blah cycle and all the other cycles? Well let me tell you about the book cycle. Step 1: Empty book shelf  Step 2: Mediumish filled book shelf  Step 3: Almost full book shelf  Step 4: Full book shelf and finally  Step 5: Drowning in books because there’s too many books. Sorry – you can never have enough books! And that is the book cycle 🙂

Maybe that book cycle doesn’t fit your teacher. If not, make your own up. I mean – that wasn’t made up though. But back to the point . . . That book cycle sure fits my teacher. She’s a little bit book crazy as in goes to the book store everyday! 

Here is the author of this incredible piece of writing with her favourite book! (She does read it when she’s sad. But also when she’s happy or mellow or tired or  . . . )

Celebration: The Book Cycle There's a Book for That

I wish all of you some love, particularly a little of the bookish variety!

I celebrate that I have a room full of books and wonderful readers to read them!

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.

 

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some titles to book talk #1

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

So often, I discover amazing nonfiction that I just can’t wait to read aloud. But it is equally exciting to find titles that will become part of our class nonfiction collection. Some Wednesdays, I’ve decided to share some titles that I will be adding to our nonfiction bins and some of the features I will highlight when I share them with the students.

I think our guiding questions and the information we point out when introducing books really helps our students have more success when reading the texts independently.

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!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 95/65 complete!

The Worm by Elise Gravel (published 2014)

This Disgusting Critters series is something I am very excited to share with my students this fall. There is guaranteed kid appeal in the humour, the yucky facts and the conversational narration. Lots of bold text, speech bubbles and silly pictures. But, this is not a nonfiction title where you will find the features we often expect in a nonfiction title. There is no table of contents, glossary or index to organize facts. In fact the facts are found within the text – sometimes with bolded words and sometimes with diagrams that illustrate a point. No guarantees. A sample of the text:

“An earthworm is basically a long digestive tract with inside a muscle tube. It’s that muscle tube that’s slimy and disgusting.”

This is what I would highlight when I book talked this title:

  • Notice that some of the new vocabulary is in bold
  • Discover new facts by asking yourself at the end of the page, “Did I just learn something new?” “Was there a fact I could note on this page?”
  • Appreciate the amusing way that the author communicates new information
  • Choose another book on the same topic for further reading

 The Worm Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some titles to book talk #1

I would pair Worms (part of the Creepy Creatures series) by Valerie Bodden with this book. This series is very popular in my classroom and the ideal reading level for primary students.

Worms Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some titles to book talk #1

Wild about Bears by Jeannie Brett (published 2014)

This book highlights information about each of the eight species of bears on earth today. Can you name the specific eight? I couldn’t! There are some things that I really like about this title but a few things that might make it a little challenging for children to navigate. I would highlight each of these things in sharing this book.

  • Check out the main headings on each two page spread that introduce us to one of the eight bear species. The common name is also included and may be the name you know. For example, Moon bears (the term I was familiar with) are actually part of the Asiatic Black Bears species. The weight range of each bear is also included here.
  • Notice the habitat glossary in the back of the book that gives more information about the habitats where each bear species lives
  • Refer often to the colour coded world map in the back to see where you can find each bear species
  • Make sure you read some of the smaller text next to the diagrams for more information. Be aware though that these are not all captions – just additional information about each of the bear species. You might not see what the text is talking about in the picture.
  • How do we learn new vocabulary in nonfiction text? Often our learning is reinforced and enhanced through bolded words, a glossary and an index. Notice that these things are missing in this text so you may need to look specific words up in other sources for more information.
  • Would you have appreciated colour photographs of the bears – maybe in the back of the book to see what they looked like in the wild? Where could you go to find real life photographs of each species in their habitats?

 Wild About Bears Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some titles to book talk #1

Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction Books: Part 3 A

This is the third post in a three four post series highlighting how to use more nonfiction in the primary/early intermediate classroom. The first two posts can be found here:

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

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

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 our classrooms. For reference, last year I taught a Grade 2/3/4 class.

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together

3 A: Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read This post will touch on these questions:

  • How to generate excitement about nonfiction texts?
  • What are some ways to get students reading more nonfiction books?

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

One of the best ways to create a buzz about nonfiction texts is to make authentic connections with the authors, illustrators and photographers that are making the books we love to read! We read a lot of nonfiction titles in my classroom and its is always exciting for the children to be able to communicate with the people behind the books that we have loved and shared together.

I would like to share three of our important connections here.

FirstNic Bishop.

When I had the opportunity (thanks Adam Shaffer) to introduce author and photographer Nic Bishop at this year’s Western Washington’s Children Literature ConferenceI knew that my students had to be part of the presentation. We spent time with Nic Bishop books (titles like Butterflies and Moths, Lizards, Spiders, Frogs, and Snakes). I asked the children to explore the books with these questions in mind:

  • How were these photographs taken?
  • What skills (besides photography) would the photographer need?
  • What would be the rewards in this kind of work?
  • What would be the challenges?

I then made a slide show that showcased some of their answers. The children were thrilled that they had “come with me” to help with the introduction! Here are a few photos that were part of the slide show.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Second, with author Melissa Stewart.

We took forever to read No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young (with illustrations by Nicole Wong) We had to stop to talk, to write, to talk some more. So much learning in this book! It was one of our favourite read alouds of the year! A very special thing happened when I tweeted a picture of one child’s picture and writing to Melissa. She shared this on her blog, Celebrate Science. One little boy now has dreams of being an illustrator for nonfiction picture books!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That Students were so excited to see a classmate’s work on a real author’s blog! It was such a surprise to see his work up on the big screen!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

And third, with author Deborah Heiligman.

Another one of our very favourite read alouds this year was The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I shared all of our learning and connections with Deborah in this post on my classroom blog Curiosity Racers: For the Love of Math It is worth reading to see how very engaged my students were with this book and to figure out just what those cards they are holding are all about!

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Provide time to read nonfiction books

Of course, with many nonfiction books in the room and lots of book talking highlighting nonfiction texts, many students are already reading nonfiction books.  To ensure that all students were having the opportunity to be making nonfiction a choice and having guidance in choosing nonfiction texts, we decided to set aside a specific amount of time once a week (we grew it to 20 minutes and some kids read longer) and called it Nonfiction Reading Day. Of course, many children read nonfiction daily. But after a few weeks of honouring nonfiction reading with a special time, more children began choosing nonfiction more often throughout the week.

On Tuesday (the day we chose) I made sure to book talk nonfiction titles and my Teacher Librarian (who is in the room with me for every Reading Workshop)and I help students select nonfiction books that are a good match for them in terms of reading and interest level.

A great way to introduce more titles is also through book sharing circles. I group children into small groups of 6-8 students and have enough for 2-3 books per child. Every few minutes, we pass the books to our left and have a small amount of time to explore the titles just passed to us. At the end, we place all of the books in the center of the circle and students have a chance to share which books would be their first choices to read “next.” These conversations help to further promote the excitement about the books and invariably, many of these books are nabbed as students head off to read.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

On Nonfiction Reading Day, we acknowledge that the volume in the room will be noisier than our usual independent reading. It is hard to stay quiet when we read nonfiction because there is just too much that is too tempting to share. Many students also love buddy reading with a nonfiction text. I do specific mini-lessons with some ideas about how to make this go well.

Many days, we gather back to the carpet and sit knee to knee with a partner or a trio and share highlights from our nonfiction reading that day. Students are encouraged to ask questions and share their learning. We have a chart that we have created together in the room with some prompts to help out. A few examples:

  • Share a favourite illustration or photograph and explain what is significant about it
  • Read aloud a particularly interesting part and ask your partner if they have any questions about what you read.
  • Share something new that you learned.
  • Share a fact that was confirmed for you.
  • Talk about something you still don’t understand or have further questions about.
  • Give some reasons why someone might be interested in this title.

Time to read is a huge piece of generating excitement about nonfiction texts. Without this time to self-select titles, explore a variety of texts, talk about what we are reading and actually sustained time to read, our love for nonfiction won’t grow at the rate it does with all of these things in place.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Share the #NFbooklove!

I love to welcome volunteers into my classroom during Reading Workshop. Often, when students get to choose which book to read to a volunteer, they choose a nonfiction text we have shared together!  This picture below is very special. My student, who dreams of becoming a doctor is reading Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman to our volunteer who is currently applying to medical schools. I shared highlights of the conversations about this book in my classroom here.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

This picture was taken during the last week of school. My student is reading A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke to a guest visiting our room. She chose this from our Favourite Read Alouds bin. Why so significant? This was the first nonfiction read aloud I shared with my class back in September! Truly a testament to the joy these books bring to us.

 Teaching with a Passion for Nonfiction books: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together There's a Book for That

Up next? Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together – – > 3 B: Reading and working with the texts 

Please continue the nonfiction conversation with me. I welcome any questions or feedback in the comments section 🙂

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 

Awards:

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