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 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.

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 🙂

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

I am a huge fan of nonfiction picture books in our Elementary classrooms. They are the jumping off point into deep, deep learning. But it is not just the learning that infuses these pages, it is also the beauty of the images that helps lure readers in.

Reasons for nonfiction read alouds? There are many: opportunity for rich discussion, shared learning experiences, new information conveyed, etc. But there is also the visual treat that so many titles provide. The inspiration to wonder, to marvel and to be in awe of our world.

For some students, just the lure of new knowledge is the gateway to reading fantastic nonfiction titles, others need a little nudge. Something beautiful . . .

I have a few students who resist picking up nonfiction titles without some persuasion. I try to entice them with the amazing facts that they might learn. Thinking of a few students in particular, I realize I have been approaching it all wrong. With these children, I should be starting with the images and let them work their magic. Many of our visual learners begin with the illustrations. They become lost in the pictures and then begin reading to answer the questions that start to form.

Do I have enough nonfiction picture books in my collection (or on my wish lists) for these readers?

I started a list. And then I thought I should share . . . .

Each of these titles has made me stop and stare.  Here are 25 of the most gorgeous nonfiction titles out there – absolutely swoon worthy, in my opinion 🙂

Learn more about the Natural World:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

An Egg is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Over and Under the Snow written by the Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. (Note: This title is actually fiction but offers a beautiful invitation to begin learning more about the world under the snow)

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

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Mia Posada

Nest by Jorey Hurley

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

Books about Creatures: Small to Gigantic, and all sizes in between:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

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

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

Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland

Jumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

Information/Concept titles:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Swirl by Swirl (Spirals in Nature) written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Gravity by Jason Chin

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Biographies/Memoir:

 Biographies/Memoir Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Orani My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill 

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully 

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

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

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

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

(I featured a few of these titles in this post last year: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds Some are clearly my favourites!)

What beautiful nonfiction picture books make you swoon? Please share them in the comments.

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 titles.

NFPB 2014

Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring cleaning (no, not windows)

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

celebrate link up

Stories

I can’t think of a week where I don’t celebrate the power of stories and connections through stories.

This week I celebrate sharing my student’s comments and responses to Soccer Star written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Renato Alarcão (to be released in April of 2014). Such a special title – my students’ reactions reveal how wonderful this title is to share in the classroom. Thank you to Mina for making sure I got a copy of this book to have in my classroom. It is already treasured.

Soccer Star Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring Cleaning There's a Book for That

I also celebrate being mentioned here with such a lovely compliment by one of my favourite authors Deborah Heiligman on the INK blog this week. Thank you to Deborah for honouring my love of nonfiction and my love of my students. I especially love connecting the two! This post reveals exactly how magical Deborah’s book The Boy who Loved Math was in my classroom.

Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring Cleaning There's a Book for That

Special Days

Don’t ask my husband because he will not be able to tell you but . . . it was in fact 17 years ago today that I walked down the aisle in a green dress carrying a bouquet of white tulips to the song The Girl from Ipanema and married this man I share my life with. Two beautiful children, lots of strong cups of morning coffee and many memories later, I am happy to celebrate this day! Here he is below (casting for hours) when we celebrated our anniversary last year at our favourite place to rent in the San Juan Islands.

Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring Cleaning There's a Book for That

Spring Cleaning (not windows and baseboards but gardens and blogs)

In the garden . . . A few years ago we renovated our house and my lovely garden survived but just barely. Life has been busy (working full time doesn’t lend itself to morning coffee and gardening mid week!) and it is only now that I am truly trying to revive the spaces I love so much. This transformation has no budget so it is basically going like this: Has it survived? Split it, move it, celebrate it. Right now, this involves a lot of cutting back, weeding and contemplating.

Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring Cleaning There's a Book for That

On the blog . . .

I have finally had time to deal with all of my little notes to myself to add to certain lists, update posts, etc. on this blog.

In the last few days, I updated these lists with new titles.

Big issue Titles

The appeal of a series: Hook some young readers!

Death & Bereavement

I also had a chance to post this post: Make the Time: 15 things that matter It was something that has been rolling around in my head for a while and with all of the gardening, it came together. I would love if anyone in the Celebration community would like to add a comment on the post. I have the feeling many of you would have much to share. Many thanks!

Celebration: Stories, Special Days and Spring Cleaning There's a Book for That

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’ve been inspired once again by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy to participate in the 2014 Nonfiction picture book challenge! Link up here to join in!

NFPB 2014

According to Goodreads, last year I read 66 nonfiction picture books – my goal had been 60 titles. I read 44 nonfiction picture books in 2012 so it was wonderful that participating in this challenge allowed me to increase the titles I read by a third! Wonderful for me and wonderful for my students as my passion for these titles has spilled over into some amazing read aloud experiences! And the learning . . . Wow!

This year when I selected my favourite titles of the year, including nonfiction picture books was a priority – I credit this challenge with my new absolute love for this genre. Thank you Alyson and all of the fantastic bloggers sharing favourite reads all year!

I would like to keep reading at the nonfiction pace I read last year – so I am choosing 65 titles as my goal. Again, I will try and read many recently published books, but there are many 2013 (and even older) titles that I really want to get to so I will be reading both new and older titles. When I can, I will include favourites and link to Alyson’s Wednesday nonfiction posts.

One of my most popular posts of the year was for this challenge: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds. I have been using this list to guide which books I share with my students. In my timetable, I have set aside two guaranteed nonfiction read aloud times each week. Often, it is more. We read a lot of nonfiction in my room!

Like last year, I am excited to learn about a variety of nonfiction titles shared via the bloggers participating in this challenge! Reading passion is wonderfully contagious!

My ten nonfiction favourites read in 2013 (not just published in 2013) included:

The final 3 titles on this list were on my Favourites of 2013 list and four of these books were on my Gift Books 2013 list. Testament to the nonfiction love!

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Tree Lady NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

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

Is this Panama? NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

No monkeys, No chocolate NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

The Case of the Vanishing Frogs NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

my first day NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke 

a little book of sloth NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Even an Octopus Needs a Home by Irene Kelly 

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Lifetime NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 On a Beam of Light NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 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 

 The Boy who Loved Math NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

I feel compelled to share this post to highlight all of the love this book had in my classroom: For the Love of Math

NF Picture Book Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Favourites of 2013

So excited to share my favourites of 2013! I had a wonderful year of reading – thanks to the amazing authors and illustrators out there that enrich our lives in so many ways.

The best of the best (published in 2013) for me?

13 favourites and no more than 13 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with!

I decided to split these titles into 4 categories of what I read most of – middle grade novels, young adult novels, picture books and nonfiction picture books. 4 x 3 titles each and one bonus book = 13 titles for 2013 🙂

Middle Grade Titles:

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Brilliant, unique characters who teach us what it means to have “people”

Counting by 7s Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Inclusion. Bullies. Women’s rights. Orphans. Magic. Love where it’s needed.

Beholding Bee Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

High drama, adventure and intrigue led by Jaron: loyal, brave and charmingly plucky.

The Runaway King Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Young Adult Titles:

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Teenage vulnerability and humility. Best kind of uncle. Two well written male characters.

Living with Jackie Chan Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Because teenage love stories don’t often look like this. Gets you but good.

Eleanor and Park Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Intrigue, mystery, twists, upsets, revelations. Oh these Aglionby boys. And Blue . . .

The Dream Thieves Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (fiction):

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

Because we all need reminders to stop and honour the magic all around us.

The Man with the Violin Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog.

The Mighty Lalouche Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Wild Thing! I think we love you. Just divine. Swoon.

Mr Tiger goes Wild Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (nonfiction):

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

Mathtastic magic that inspires little thinkers. The wonders of number devotion.

 The Boy who Loved Math Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Wonder, curiosity and thinking outside of the box. Accessible Einstein!

 On a Beam of Light Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Math is all around us. Gorgeous illustrations. Fascinating animal facts.

Lifetime Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

And one more – published in North America in 2013. And in Australia in 2012.

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. New York City. Someone who gets you.

Herman and Rosie Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .