Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction

I have written many times about how important I think it is to have students to have books in their environment – books that they can interact with, books to read, books that are read to them and books to look at from across the room and think, “Hmm, I’d really like to read that!”

Nonfiction titles are especially wonderful because they spark curiosity, are the perfect thing to enhance and inspire learning on various topics and can be picked up and put down when there are a few minutes here and there to read.

I decided to do a little bit of a nonfiction book tour of my room and sneak in a few favourite titles here and there. Nonfiction books everywhere you look!

For starters, I have a vast personal collection of titles that I read aloud, pull out when we are studying specific topics and use for reference texts to support certain students who have specific questions about their world.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

There are four bins of books here like this one below ūüôā I have organized these by theme for easy access (like Ecology, Mammals, Science Concepts, Water, etc)

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

A few favourites that I have recently added to these bins:

Water is Water written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Water Is Water- A Book About the Water Cycle Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

Wandering Whale Sharks by Susumu Shingu

Wandering Whale Sharks Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

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

 Weeds Find a Way Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

In this same area I have a bin of picture book biographies.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

I love to share biographies with my class. One title I plan to read early in the year is Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

On another book shelf I have other reference material – both nonfiction and fiction.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

In the wonder/nature section are titles like these.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

When we are in the full swing of things, the “recently read/booktalked nonfiction shelf” might look like this:

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

And always, climbing up our walls are book jackets and relevant vocabulary.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

In one corner by the sinks is a bin of interesting fact and reference books that I change up every month or so. There is empty counter space here to open up the books and begin reading.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

I just pulled some titles out of the nonfiction section of the library so that it reflects the reading and interest levels of the new students coming in – younger readers than last year. If I am wrong, I have some texts in bins ready to pull back out.

We have lots of nonfiction readers.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

And a large collection of titles for independent and buddy reading

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

In some bins, dividers help students who are looking for a particular topic.

 Nonfiction in the Room There's a Book for That

Hugely popular series in these bins include:

Creepy Creatures titles by Valerie Bodden

Mites Creepy Creatures Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

The Grow with Me series

Grow with me Butterfly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

Scholastic Discover More titles

Scholastic Discover More Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction There's a Book for That

That was a mini tour of the nonfiction in my room. Where can nonfiction titles be found in your classroom/library?

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

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features

Summer in my world means bright early mornings, family vacations to the ocean, long afternoons of reading and classroom library tinkering! Sometimes the tinkering is a full out overhaul like this reorganization two years ago that involved moving shelves, switching bins and massive weeding.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Other years, it is a lot of adding to the collection and rethinking organization. This year, I am about to embark on some more big changes. I will likely have a Grade 2/3 class this year after teaching Grade 3/4 last year. Some series will go into storage and displays will change. I have more weeding to do and many books to label and add to the collection. I also have some donated books to sort through – some will become part of my classroom library, some I will share with other teachers and some will make their way home with readers.

I LOVE this work. Interacting with the books reminds me of titles I need to promote and stories that must be read. I also love the time to think about how Reading Workshop will roll out this year with a new group of students. Always, I want our library to be well used, well loved and working for all of the children in the room.

As I work this summer, I plan to share some of my thinking. Maybe it will be helpful to someone out there and it is always a useful process for me. Sharing, after all, promotes the best kind of learning there is.

I believe in a room full of books and time to read them. I also celebrate lots of book displays, incredible illustrations, an organization system that makes sense and a place for student voice.

Today’s post? Ten important features in my classroom library, beyond the books.

What are they and why are they important?

Book Jacket Wallpaper 

In my teacher resource area live lots of books and a wall of book jackets. This photo shows three layers of jackets. The “wallpaper” actually goes up another four rows. The message? That books are important: they are treasured, they are beautiful and they impact everything we do.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Behind the Scenes Organization

Every book that makes it into the collection is labelled with my name and “stickered” with the bin code. The trick to keeping the sticker on? Scotch tape. Labelled books mean that they can all find their homes when not being read.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Reader Statements

In January of 2014 I had the opportunity to hear¬†Pat Johnson and Katie Keier authors of Catching Readers Before They Fall¬†here in Vancouver. One of my take away pieces of learning was about using¬†Reader‚Äôs Statements¬†to communicate what readers do. For example: Readers think about what they read or listen to or Readers make sure what they read makes sense. I now record Reader’s Statements that come out of student conferences and post these up with the name of the child that talked about the idea. We refer to these often!

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Return Bins

Some students put books away really well after learning the system. Other students find this more difficult. These big bins allow students to “return” books to a central area and a student volunteer of one of us working in the room will return the books at a later time.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Boxes

Each of my readers has his or her own book box. It is supposed to be for the books we are currently reading. But often our book joy overflows and many many books end up in these boxes. We work on prioritizing, keeping lists and letting books back out to be read by others. As one brilliant student always reminds us, “The books aren’t going anywhere. They are here all year for you to read.”

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

20 Beautiful Books Shelf

I have many special books in my collection. Some might be a signed copy. Others might be saved for specific read alouds. Some were important gifts. But, it doesn’t feel right keeping them all away from the readers in the room. So, this year I started using this shelf and we call it the 20 Beautiful Books Shelf because it always has 20 books on it and well, they are beautiful! Each of these books has a green sticker on the back and must be returned to the shelf after reading. I switch the titles here every few weeks.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Recently Read/Book talked Fiction Shelf

If I read a book or book talk it, it goes onto this shelf. These titles sometimes go back into my “resource” collection and get circulated when they take a turn on the “20 beautiful books shelf.” Other titles are library books and get returned to the library. Some books end up in our class collection. But after we have all enjoyed them together, they hang out here for a while so that they can be located easily when a reader wants to read one of them again. This shelf gets a lot of love!

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Recently Read/Book talked Nonfiction Shelf

And if fiction books are loved? So are nonfiction! And equally so! So I have a shelf for our nonfiction titles too. See the explanation above for fiction.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Favourite Read Aloud Bin

Sometimes, our recently read shelf gets full and I need to move some books out. When I try, there is often loud protesting! “No, we are still reading that one a lot!” (Rereading is celebrated in our room!) Sometimes, a book needs to go here so it can be found easily and that it gets a special place of honour. The bin is empty in September and slowly fills up throughout the year.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

These titles came out of the Favourite Read Aloud bin at the end of the 2013/2014 year.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Jacket Vocabulary

I love to highlight the nonfiction titles we have read and all of the learning that happened through our reading, writing and discussions. I post book jackets with key vocabulary and leave them up all year. Students often refer to the word lists and I use the words as prompts for review.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

The most important part of all of this?

That my students feel that they learn in a “wonderland of books.”

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for thatAll of these books and all of the organizing means that it often looks like this in my room. This is buddy reading with the Ks – lots of reading, lots of engagement, lots of literacy.

Exactly how it should be.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

In this recent post, I talk about questions to think about when setting up a classroom library.

What features in your classroom library make it work for your readers?

Celebration: Talking classroom libraries

This week I spent some time in my classroom cleaning up and clearing out. I do this every summer. When the organizing is complete, I get to do what I love best: revamp and revitalize my classroom library. This is a job that is thankfully, never done. I always have books to add, books to weed, and new ideas about how to organize. Every summer, I save this part of my “summer work” for last. It’s like delicious dessert. Sweet, satisfying and something to savour.

Always, the reason my library needs to keep changing is so that it keeps meeting the needs of the readers who use it.

Celebration: Talking classroom libraries Thee's a Book for That

I think about bins, displays, organization, labels, access, etc. I think about the interests, skills and needs of the readers. All this is quite solitary work which is fine. But, it is always so rewarding when we can share our reasoning and talk with other teachers about why we do what we do. I find I learn as much when I share as when I get to be the one asking questions of someone else about something in their practice.

This week I had a friend visit my room for a few hours. She is returning to the regular classroom after years of doing work with gifted students at the district level. We talked about various things. But a large focus of our discussion was about Reading Workshop and classroom libraries.

Celebration: Talking classroom libraries Thee's a Book for That

Later that evening, I was still energized from our discussion. I was looking through some old notes in a notebook I keep and I came across a list that I had made a few years ago. I wrote it after I had hosted a literacy study group in my room. The group leader wanted to have me talk about my classroom library and so she held their regular biweekly meeting in my classroom. This was quite a quiet group and they mostly asked questions about where I purchased various bins. An important question, yes, but a classroom library is about much more than the bins the books are housed in! I had titled the list: Questions I wished I had been asked. Of course, as I talked to the group I did address some of these things but I had been curious why I hadn’t been asked to explain in more detail.

My list:

  • Where do you find your books? How do you keep current with what you might purchase?
  • Why are some books in the regular collection and some are kept in a teaching collection?
  • How do you decide how to organize the books? How do you teach this system to the kids?
  • How do you introduce books?
  • How do you ensure that students are reading widely?
  • How many of these books have you read? Where do you find the time?

When I read this list over, I realized that my friend had asked me each of the things on this list as well as many more questions. The reason for my excitement? Engagement – hers and mine.

This is what I celebrate this week – the ability to share and discuss something I am always changing and always passionate about – my classroom library.

In the next few weeks, I will have the chance to begin making my annual library changes. I hope to blog a little more about what I am doing and that others will join in the discussion with me.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

This week, one of my expressive students exclaimed, “You’re one crazy book lady!” I can’t remember what exactly inspired this comment but I think I was searching intently for a book in one of many piles in my teacher resource area. Piles have grown. Some looked more like towers. Towers at risk of toppling. A recent donation meant some book shopping for early chapters and graphics (see photo below) and my children had let go of some series they were ready to pass on to my classroom. There were still unlabelled and unorganized books that I should have been able to deal with in the summer but the teacher strike meant limited time for classroom setup. Books, books, books. ¬†ūüôā

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

Friday was a professional development day in my district and I decided to use it to 1) dive into these book piles 2) pull out titles from book bins that my now Grade 3 and 4 readers are ready for and 3) to talk books and strategies with some of my colleagues. This week, I celebrate, this much needed and very useful time.

Armed with stickers, notebooks, tape and bins, and of course, caffeinated reinforcements, I began. Before I book talk books, I like them to have stickers on the back (sealed with tape to ensure they stay there) so that students can return them to their correct bin.

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

I was able to get an entire bin of books ready to be book talked. Many titles landed in my specific themed baskets for future read alouds or writing mentor texts.

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

I made lists of new labels to make for bins being switched to accommodate new titles. Some series went into storage and some came out to be part of the classroom library.

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

But the best part? As I worked in the room and interacted with the books, ideas kept coming. Ideas for mini lessons in Reading Workshop, ideas for record keeping, ideas for new titles to add to our collection (of course!) and ideas about books to suggest to specific readers. Usually, I do all of this classroom library organization in the summer when students won’t be in the room for weeks and weeks. Yesterday, it was like my current class was right there with me and nudging me to think about things specifically for their particular reading needs. It was like I had little voices reminding me. Whispers of interests, ideas and needs:

“We need more chapter book fantasy stories because I am getting into that genre.”

“You should tell me about Iris and Walter¬†stories and Mercy Watson titles because I am ready for early chapter books.”

“Find a place to hold and display some of the big fact books we can share for buddy reading.”

“Are there books in our classroom library that fit for me as I am transitioning to more challenging titles? I really like Fly Guy books!”

“I read lots of series last year but I think I am ready for some stand alone chapter books. But, where do I start?”

“We need a recording sheet to reflect how we are reading widely and exploring book boxes but make it simple and fun.”

“Display our Reader’s Statements in a new spot so we can refer to them as we browse books.”

“We forgot to add more ideas to our What kind of mood are we in? sheet last week. Let’s do more of this.”

Celebration: Books, books, books and reader whispers

This week, ¬†I celebrate time to be in my room, organizing and thinking about ways to make it more responsive for the readers that inhabit the space Monday to Friday. ¬†Yes, I do this daily with all of the students there with me. But, with the gift of a full day, time to reflect and just wisps of reader energies surrounding me, I accomplished so much. I can’t wait for another week of growing passionate and devoted readers in my room.

celebrate-link-upThank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.

Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

It’s funny how one’s focus can change when looking at the classroom library. For a while, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nonfiction titles in my room. Last summer I started to get anxious about whether or not I had enough books in the room that my Grade 2/3s could pick up and read independently. It seemed like my “best” nonfiction titles were books that I needed to read to my students. Which was wonderful because I had some amazing titles to use as we model strategies, but what about when it was independent reading time? Did I have enough titles that students could read by themselves with success? My book shopping focussed on purchasing titles that I knew my students could manage on their own, especially as we built strategies to read nonfiction text over the year. Some of my favourite books that I added?

  • The Discover More Series by Scholastic
  • Nicola Davies Flip the Flap and Find out books which include Who Lives Here? and Who’s Like Me?
  • Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? and Who Has These Feet?
  • A huge array of Bobbie Kalman titles
  • The Are you a . . . ? series by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  • The Amazing Animal Series by Kate Riggs

NonfictionText for Independent Reading There's a Book for That

Now, here I am a year later. Again, thinking about the books in my room . . . What is my focus now? That I want some “Oh, wow!” titles to read aloud. I want to make sure that just as I am reading a variety of picture books and some engaging novels, that I have a real variety of excellent nonfiction picture books to read aloud. Sometimes to model/practice a strategy, sometimes to enhance our learning on a particular subject and sometimes just because, the more we read, the more we know and I want my students to be inspired and curious about learning all year long!

I am fortunate to be looping my Grade 2/3 class into Grade 3/4 and so I have a sense of this group of children, what they wonder about and what I think might inspire them. Last year, I noticed that they were intrigued by stories – folklore, Aboriginal tales, stories from around the world and stories about things that really happened. They were very curious about the stories of people and how these stories connected to us in our classroom. It made me realize that I haven’t been reading enough biographies. I also want to focus on places around the world and the wonder of the world around us. Last year, students loved learning about animals from each continent and had endless questions about habitats. ¬†I know we love art and books and music. So, I have some sense of what kinds of books I need to share.

Knowing how busy school can get and knowing how I sometimes need a one stop shop when I am planning, I decided to take advantage of the time summer has to offer to amass a huge list of amazing nonfiction read alouds. I was looking for titles that my Grade 3/4 class would enjoy. Some are favourites from previous years and some I have yet to read myself. Thank goodness for the wonderful book bloggers out there that I used for inspiration. So here is my list of 25 “wonder¬†inducing”¬†nonfiction read alouds. A reference for me and one that I am sharing here.

The book I plan to use to launch my year: On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky This book made my own thoughts whirl and swirl and race around my head. It has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 On a Beam of Light

Based on some picture book biographies I already loved, I grew that list to include:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin written by Jen Bryant  and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

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

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon written by Jaqueline Davies illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Biographies - Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps¬†by¬†Jeanette Winter

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

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

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

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

Biographies Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

Some titles to explore amazing places and the world around us:

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Redwoods by Jason Chin

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin

Fire! by Celia Godkin

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world by Allan Drummond

The World Around us Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

And to learn about creatures great and small:

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

 And a title to be released this fall:

Is This Panama?: A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill  and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Is this Panama?

Will I read all of these titles aloud this year? Maybe not. Perhaps interests and passions will take us in different directions. But this list will help keep me on track to make sure I am sharing lots of books that inspire both learning and thinking in my room!

Do you have some other must share nonfiction titles for Grade 3/4 listeners? Would love to hear your suggestions!

I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday¬†event that KidLit Frenzy¬†hosts. Visit Alyson’s blog to see what books are shared this week.

NFPB2013leaves