Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs

Why are we so enamoured with nests and eggs? I know I am. I have a found hummingbird nest that is a treasured possession. All of that work and skill in such a tiny package. What draws us to eggs and nests? I think it is because nests and eggs represent the miracle of life in a much more observable way than pregnant bellies (although pregnancy itself is full of all kinds of miracles). Nests and eggs are about birth and growth and care – all on the outside for us to witness. If we happen to be so lucky. And when we get a peek, it seems so special.

I can manage clean sheets, fluffed pillows, layers of blankets, dim light. The intricate weaving, crafting, building that is nest making, I can’t even imagine.

But if I wanted some inspiration, A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books 2015) is the place to start.

Most interesting for me?

  • the nests of African gray tree frogs – described as a “frothy mass that hardens into a meringue like crust.”
  • the neighbourly nests made by the black tailed prairie dog and the baya weavers
  • the nests hardened onto cave walls by cave swiftlets who spit strands of saliva to make these nests. These nests are what bird’s nest soup is made from. Wow.

Like all of Aston and Long titles, this is a must own.

A Nest is Noisy Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (HMH Books for Young Readers 2015)

Perfect indeed.

So incredible to see an egg and wonder what might possibly be inside. Who could imagine that a crow’s egg would be such a stunning mottled blue and black?

Nestled in nests or left on bare branches? If no predators are about, leaving an egg all on its own is just fine – like the white tern does. Or build your own protection? The green lacewing produces thin stalks, attaches them to a leaf and then places an individual egg at the end of each. No hungry ants will find them. Genius.

Lots of other information in this book: How many eggs do various creatures lay? Who likes to devour eggs? (Is it just me of is the egg-eating snake absolutely fascinating?) Who carries their eggs instead of leaving them in a nest? How do various creatures keep their eggs warm? How exactly do they get out?

I love the additional information at the back of the book that gives the habitat and length of each animal in the book. I use these pages when I share Jenkins titles with my class to estimate size – we predict and then get out our rulers. The children find this so interesting!

Egg Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

Other nonfiction picture books about nests and eggs I would recommend.

whose nest? Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

 Nest Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

Mama Built a Little Nest Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

eggs123 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

An Egg is Quiet Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

 What Will Hatch Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

guess what is growing inside this egg Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fascination with nests and eggs There's a Book for That

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!


Monday June 8th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This was taken during buddy reading with the K class. Don’t you just love how completely enthralled this little guy is in this story? Absolute focus. It helps that his buddy is an expressive, keen reader. Ah, book love shared!

Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

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


My reading this week included:

The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud

Another adventure of the busy, bustling searching high and low kind. Papa Bear must find Little Bear who has again disappeared. This time, some of the searching happens on a tropical island. What fun!

The Bear's Sea Escape Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Fly by by Petr Horáček

Highly amusing. The story of the highly misunderstood and under loved house fly.

The FLy Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

I love all of these books by Aston and Long. This is particularly gorgeous and full of fantastic information about various nests. I loved the neighbourly nests.

A Nest is Noisy Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

I preordered this book based on its gorgeous cover and the buzz I was hearing about it being a beautiful book about whales and oceans and measurement and wow. And, wow! An incredible read aloud for children who love to be amazed by nature. I loved the illustration of the blue whale’s mouth with 50 people standing in its lower jaw! Hoping Jenni Desmond decides to do more books with a nonfiction flair. This is a must own.

The Blue Whale Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Lulu Belle and the Sea Turtle written by Belinda Murrell and illustrated by Serena Geddes

This is the second Lulu Belle that I have read and I am so impressed with this young chapter book series. Perfect for primary students to read independently or a fun read aloud for those little readers not quite able to read on their own. This title is about sea turtles, art shows, a family adventure and a small Australian Aboriginal community.

 Lulu Belle Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf 

Whoa. A fast read. Haunting. Powerful. About civil war in Liberia and children who are kidnapped and forced to become soldiers. Based on interviews with former child soldiers. Lines in this book stopped me cold.

Son of a Gun Monday June 8th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 28/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 211/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 11/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 46/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 21/50 books read

Up next? I continue to read Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles At school, my students and I are more than half way through Jack by Liesl Shurtliff

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why?

My students are very pleased to be reacquainting themselves with the classroom library after a long summer/strike break. I have been book talking, highlighting specific bins and handing particular books to particular readers for particular reasons. We haven’t done a huge focus on nonfiction titles yet but still, many are being read around the room. I always find it so interesting to see what is popular at any given time in my Grade 3/4 classroom.

Who is reading what? And why? A few highlights:

Weird but True titles by National Geographic Kids do not stay in their assigned basket. They are hugely popular with many students who love to read all of the facts and quiz each other. They would happily do this for hours.

Weird but True 5 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

Tigers by Valerie Bodden – part of The Amazing Animal series (published 2009) This book made its way into one child’s book box yesterday because, “I keep thinking about tigers and my book box is needing some books with information. I LOVE tigers. I am so excited!”

Tiger Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

This Disgusting Critters series (published 2014) by Elise Gravel, is adored, as I suspected it would be. We are in the middle of a little art project to make our own disgusting critter in Gravel’s style. Of course, now these titles are even more popular.

“Can I read The Slug next?”

“Is there a list? I haven’t read The Rat yet.”

“When is the next one of these coming out? Can you buy it?

 The Slug Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long (published 2012) One of my students has discovered this beautiful book and spends a lot of her free time examining its gorgeous pages. She has made lists of her favourite rocks and is now looking at rocks in our classroom rock collection to see what she might be able to identify.

 A Rock is Lively Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

Top 50 Deadliest Creatures by Camilla De La Bdoyre (published 2012)

I don’t know what it is about this book but almost every time we have a guest to our room, one child will go off in search of this title to read aloud. A visiting student teacher got to listen to some amazing facts about ferocious creatures today. I didn’t buy this book. It came in as a donation and ever since it travels from book box to book box being read by many.

Top 50 Deadliest Creatures Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Who is reading what and why? There's a Book for That

What is popular in your nonfiction library right now?

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

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 110/65 complete!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four “finally found” titles

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014This week I want to share four titles that have nothing in common beyond their nonfiction status except that all four of them are books I have been dying to read and have, finally, FOUND!

If you haven’t discovered these titles yet, I pass on high recommendations! These are must reads.

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

My local bookstore seemed to always be out of copies of this beautiful title but I finally found it at my local public library. Now I see not only why this was an award winning title, but also why so many raved about how amazing it is! Susan L. Roth‘s collage images are stunning and I love the alternate orientation of the book – it is shared vertically rather than horizontally. But, it is, of course, the story that is so important. So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops. Both captive bred parrots and wild flocks are being supported by the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program.

This book has many extras in the final pages to support further learning:

  • an extensive Afterward with full colour photographs of the different birds discussed in this book and more information about the recovery program.
  • a timeline of important dates
  • a list of the author’s sources

 Parrots over Puerto Rico  NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (published in 2013)

This cover has been staring at me from various book lists and blogs and finally, just recently, my requested copy arrived from the library! I immediately included it on this list of Swoon Worthy Nonfiction titles because the illustrations beautifully narrate a story all their own. Brief and lyrical text tells the story of Mandela’s life and his determination to see his people live in a free South Africa where apartheid was abolished. Kadir Nelson‘s back pages flush out details of the story he shared. A book guaranteed to get students talking about Mandela, his inspiration and his leadership.

Nelson Mandela NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston with collages by Susan L. Roth (published in 2011)

This book recently came onto my radar. This was a title by Dianna Aston that I didn’t know and art by Susan L. Roth? I had to find it. Luckily our public library had a copy for me to request! I knew nothing of this story of Simon Rodia (called Uncle Sam) and his big dream that resulted in the spectacular Watts Towers (up to 100 feet high in parts) in Los Angeles. Absolutely stunning folk art that you can’t imagine until you see it. More information can be found on this website. It’s worth taking a peek to see what the towers actually look like.

The end pages include close up photographs of tower sections. There is also an author’s note that gives more details about Simon Rodia and his work. Building these towers took thirty-four years and was done completely alone without even a ladder or any drawings/plans. There is also a step by step guide to creating your own Watts Towers for children to try.

Dream Something Big NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

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

Ape by this author/illustrator team is one of my all time favourite nonfiction read alouds. Next year, I am looping my Grade 2/3/4 class into a Grade 3/4 class and will have many of the same students. Students expressed a lot of curiosity and interest about endangered animals and threats to animal populations which is related to the habitat and communities strand of the Grade 4 Science curriculum.

This book by Jenkins and White 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. Definite themes come through about why certain populations are threatened: lack of space, destruction of habitat, invasive non-native predators, climate change and exposure to medicine administered to another species. Again, there is hope. Stories are shared of animals that were close to extinction and now have healthy populations – like the American bison. There is an index in the back and a list of online resources to find out more about what animals are endangered and what organizations exist that are trying to protect them.

This is a title I will be purchasing for our class collection.

Can we Save the Tiger? NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

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: 87/65 complete! If I were counting (and I am), I would announce that that is 22 books over my goal and it’s still July!

This week, I have had some wonderful conversations via twitter with Alyson Beecher who blogs at Kid Lit Frenzy and author Melissa Stewart about sharing nonfiction with our students. This inspired me to write a series of posts sharing my passion for nonfiction books. The first two of three posts are complete and linked here if you haven’t had a chance to check them out. I would love any feedback from this #nfpb2014 community who shares such #NFbooklove!

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

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

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

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


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 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

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.


Nonfiction 10 for 10 List for 2013!

I’m so excited to participate in the first Nonfiction 10 for 10 event celebrating fantastic nonfiction picture books. 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 new meme.

In many cases, I have shared the books on my list with students, often more than once. If I have used a book with my class and blogged about it, I have provided the link (for more information about the book/possible ideas on how to use it).

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long Shared in my class here. I love all of the Aston/Long titles (there are now four) but I think this is my favourite. Maybe it is that I love birds – my backyard is full of feeders and specific plants to attract them. But it is also the simplicity of an egg and the wonder of what it might contain. In this book we learn about more than bird’s eggs – we see the eggs of frogs, insects and various reptiles. The text is soothing and informative and the illustrations stunning. It is fun just to pore over the end papers trying to match various eggs with the creatures that may have hatched from them. I find this book is as lovely shared in the classroom as it is read aloud to just a few (my own children adored it). It inspires so much inquiry and amazement.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin A simply gorgeous book detailing the birth of the Galapagos islands over millions of years and the fascinating creatures that inhabit them. Why is this book so great? The illustrations are certainly stunning and detailed but it is much more than that. I also love that big concepts: evolution, natural selection, migration of specific species and environmental changes are made so accessible for young readers. I think this is best introduced as a read aloud and then left for children to visit and revisit. This is a book to return to often to further study the illustrations and explanations. I want to get a hold of Chin‘s other nonfiction titles now too (Redwoods and Coral Reefs)

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Over and Under the Snow written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal Shared in my class here. This book is truly magical and I would be thrilled to see Kate Messner do another picture book in this genre. Of course, Neal’s illustrations are also stunning – I love the muted colours – the gorgeous blues and white. I have frequently given this book as a gift to young readers especially if they have the opportunity to get out into a snowy wood and imagine all of the life happening under the snow. My students think it is absolutely fascinating that this subnivean zone (the small open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground) exists and marvelled at the animals that inhabit it. More detail about each animal is located in the back of the book for further reading. The text itself reads beautifully and repeated readings are a must!

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Every Human has RightsA Photographic Declaration for Kids A National Geographic book with a forward by Mary Robinson. I seem to collect books that explore the United Declaration of Human Rights. I have many favourites. What I particularly love about this title is the poetry that accompanies the list of rights. All written by children and teens. The photographs from around the world make the rights so much more powerful, real and worth defending. I would share this book with intermediate students over primary children because of the more mature message in the poems and some of the photos. For books more suitable to younger students, I recommend I Have the Right to be a Child written by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty and We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures (with Amnesty International).

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Poop – A Natural History of the Unmentionable written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton. Shared in my class here and here. Really what child is not going to be engaged when you open up a book that is all about poop? There is a lot to learn in this title!   Do you know how often a sloth poops? How about a kind of messy thing that hippos do with their poo? Why is there hair in the poop of some animals? Wonder what follows when there is a title Sloppy or Ploppy? You must read this book! Better yet, you must share it with a group of curious children! And giggle. And oooh and ahhh.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Crocodile Safari by Jim Arnosky Shared in my class here and here. Arnosky has so many wonderful nonfiction titles but this is my favourite. Not only do students learn the important difference between crocodiles and alligators, they learn all kinds of facts about crocodiles. The art is true to life and the colours set the mood to make you feel like you really are out in the swamp. One of the best features of this book is the DVD that is included. See Arnosky out in the mangrove swamp doing research and learn how to draw crocodiles. A step by step drawing lesson is part of this DVD. My students loved this!

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

The Pebble in my Pocket written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Chris Coady Shared in my class here. This is a lengthy read but so worth sharing- a book that describes a journey of over 480 million years.  Follow a piece of rock that formed as a result of a volcano and travelled through time to end up in a little girl’s pocket. On this amazing journey, learn how the earth has changed in many dramatic ways over time. The back of the book has a geological time line that explains the main periods in Earth’s history. You might never look at a small pebble the same again.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page Shared in my classroom here. How to choose just one Steve Jenkins book as my favourite? Not an easy task. I adore them all. (And there are always more! Just today I read my class part of My First Day) But if I had to pick a favourite, this would have to be it. I learned the most from reading it and my students were completely engaged with the information  Symbiotic relationships between animals are fascinating and this book details many strange animal partnerships. This book’s format is somewhat like a graphic novel and contains, Jenkins’ stunning artwork/collage.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

 Fire!  The Renewal of a Forest by Celia Godkin, the queen of information story books 🙂 Have you ever thought of a forest fire as a positive thing? This detailed picture book explains how fires can be a natural and necessary part of the forest’s cycle of life and growth. The pages are typically set up so that the picture is spread over two pages  allowing for more scope and detail. I once did an entire unit on ecology using Godkin’s books and this was a favourite.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

And my favourite nonfiction title? It would have to be Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White Shared in my classroom here.

Ape is a visually stunning book! A book to pore over again and again marvelling at the details – both visual and written. Vicky White’s close up portraits and lifelike illustrations are fascinating while Martin Jenkins’ poetic text provided so much new information it is difficult to turn a page in a classroom of children without endless questions being tossed around the room. Learn about four endangered ape species: Orangutans, Chimps, Bonobos, and Gorillas. The fifth species of ape? Us. Similarities between apes and humans are described – for example, that we usually just have one baby at a time. Read and share the information in this book and then just flip through the pages taking in the pictures – there is so much to notice that a once through won’t do this book justice.

Nonfiction 10 for 10: There's a Book for that

Thanks again to Cathy, Julie and Mandy for the inspiration and hosting this event!

Happy reading and sharing everyone!

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2013

I’ve been inspired by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy to participate in the 2013 Nonfiction picture book challenge! Link up here to join in!


I love sharing nonfiction read alouds with my class and integrate literature with all of my science and social studies themes so I definitely need to ensure that I am staying current and reading a variety of nonfiction titles. It is also my goal to find more nonfiction titles that my students can engage with independently during book choice time.

According to Goodreads, last year I read 44 nonfiction picture books (some I categorized as information story books) so this year my goal is to increase that to 60 books. While I will try and read recently published books, there are a number of books in our school library that I want to read so I am not limiting myself by publication date. When I can I will include favourites and link to Alyson’s Wednesday nonfiction posts (thanks Alyson!)

What I am most excited about is the opportunity to learn about a variety of nonfiction titles shared via the bloggers participating in this challenge! There is nothing like a reading community to inspire new reading choices.

My ten nonfiction favourites read in 2012 (not just published in 2012) included:

A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

a rock is lively

Life in the Ocean (The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle) by Claire A. Nivola 

Life in the Ocean

Island A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin


The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

beetle book image

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins


Hurricane by Celia Godkin 


Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski


How the Sphinx got to the Museum


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


Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner


Monday October 1st, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Always nice to wrap up a week of reading by participating in Jen and Kellee’s meme and sharing with others all of the wonderful books read over the week. Link up and visit all of the other bloggers participating!

First of all I am so excited to celebrate that after two very busy weeks of not getting a novel completed, I have been able to steal away enough reading moments to finish Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I have read both Graceling and the companion book to Bitterblue, Fire and so was very pleased to dive into this young adult read. A dramatic story. More mystery and confusion than the action packed adventure of Graceling. But some seriously sad moments. Bitterblue needs to keep searching for strength and considering her upbringing, where does she get it all? She is a character that I liked more and more as I read the story. Being a young Queen is hardly easy in this Kingdom. Wonderful to revisit so many characters from Graceling. I am a definite fan of Cashore.

I have continued to source out titles from the Backyard Book series that I haven’t read yet. I just purchased a number of them for my classroom non-fiction collection. These books are ideal for students to interact with when learning to ask questions about a topic and read for more information. Ideal “Fact? React” titles.  And of course, they are fantastic books for independent and buddy reading. The following three titles are written by Judy Allen and illustrated by Tudor Humphries.

Are you a Dragonfly Dragonflies are gorgeous creatures. Did you know they spent two full years in the water before coming out to live on land? And that while in the water, they can eat tadpoles and small fish?

Are you an Ant? The fascinating thing I learned from this title? Anting. There is something called anting. Who knew? Birds will pick up ants and put them under their wings so that the acid in the ant’s body will kill the ticks that bite the birds and make them itch. Fascinating.

Are you a Snail? I am not a snail. And . . . I will confess I am a gardener who does not like snails. But I do admit they are quite fascinating and when they are in a book and not in my garden, I am willing to get excited about how fascinating. I did not know how snails overwinter. Pretty cool. But still, I like snails best out of my garden! In this book is a great place for them!

The fact that this book exists is pure kismet: A Rock is Lively by Diana Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long is the fourth book I own by this amazing team (A Seed is Sleepy, An Egg is Quiet and A Butterfly is Patient are all favourites – follow the links to see how I’ve used each in the classroom before.) Now the year I have decided to teach about rocks and soil in science after collecting unique and wonderful rocks over the last year, this book is published. It is just gorgeous and I cannot wait to share it with my students! Rocks are everything: tiny and huge, old and ever changing, galactic and bejewelled. Amazing. 

A Rock is Lively

I read a lot of books to my class this week but no titles new to me. I did find a new title in the school library when signing out books for our guest readers to read with the students:   JoJo the Giant written by Jane Barclay and illustrated by Esperanca Melo. An important little read that explores many themes: bullies, kindness, courage. JoJo is small only in stature and he demonstrates this in how he honours his Mom at the end of the story.

I am hoping to finish The Search for Wondla as a family read aloud this week and Code Name Verity is the novel I begin next.

Happy Reading everyone!

Read aloud everyday – in practice

This week in a piece of writing, one of my students shared, “My teacher is a book maniac!” This not only made my day, it made my week. Because the love of books, the excitement over stories and the magic of reading are the gifts I never tire of giving and hope that I have gifted in abundance this year. Every week we share a lot of things. And books? Well, they are at the top of our list! Reading aloud on a daily basis is a priority. We find many reasons to read together.

What did Division 5 read this week? When you add it all up, it’s a lot! 

On Monday we read . . . 

We often begin our mornings with a read aloud (or two or three). On Monday when we had five students absent, we began to wonder if this book might have been up to no good on Friday afternoon. Was is ravenous? Were some children devoured? We had to wait until the next few days to see who returned all in one piece! A fabulous book to humorously explore a little bit of fear . . . . The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearling.

We used Thank You Miss Doover to get us in the mood for writing an appreciative and personal thank you letter. Students learned a lot about writing and giggled through the how to train a puppy aspects of the story. Hint: there is paper and it is often yellow after a certain puppy stands on it. I was ordered to place this new book in the humour bin!

(Written by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson)

On Tuesday we read . . .

On Tuesday morning I shared some books that were brand new to our school library. When the students saw author Kevin Henkes on the cover of Penny and Her Song, they begged me to read the book aloud. Well, c’mon! Kevin Henkes? How could I say no?

I then shared another new to the library title. The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert is the sequel to the fabulous Ice that we read a few months ago. (The book that instantly made us Geisert fans). This new title lets us revisit the island with the industrious pigs and this time, the disaster they face is not a water shortage but a volcanic eruption. Evacuation via dandelion parachutes is absolutley delightful. Our class loves sharing wordless books!

Our Reading Group finished Hurricane, another fantastic information story book by Celia Godkin. Students had many questions about what happens during and after a hurricane. Just how destructive can it be? How do living things survive? This book allowed us to explore these questions and later students wrote about what they discovered. Our latest focus in our writing has been to include supporting details/ evidence. This book offered lots of great information on life in and around a mangrove swamp just before, during and after a hurricane. Writing was prolific!

In the afternoon we read A Butterfly is Patient  (an extension of our plants/seeds/garden theme) and students wrote about their new learning and their background knowledge. Read more here.

 On Wednesday we read . . . 

Wednesday mornings always begin with Just a Second by Steve Jenkins. This is a perfect book to read in little chunks as there is so much to discuss, ponder and dijest. We only have 15 minutes before Ms. S picks students up for their weekly book exchange so we love to share a few fascinating facts to turn on our brains and make us exclaim “Wow!”

 After recess we have one of our favourite events of the week. A reader from the BLG law firm comes to read to us and leaves us with a wonderful new book for our Seymour library collection. This week we listened to Crafty Chloe read by our BLG reader, Dan. Read more here in our latest BLG Reads this week post.

Every Wednesday afternoon, our three primary classes meet for our weekly Social Reponsibility Gathering. Often we share a book with a SR theme or a title that helps us extend our learning over concepts covered in the MindUp curriculum. This week I read the gorgeous Little Bird. A book that celebrates finding joy in the smallest of things. We learned that when we are mindful of our environment and those around us, real magic happens. A nearly wordless book so we were able to tell it together. Just lovely. Written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine (winner of  2011 Prix Sorcieres (the French Caldecott) for this title).

little-bird 12 for 2012

On Thursday we read . . .

Crafty Chloe reminded me of the creative genius highlighted in I Had a Favourite Dress written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Julia Denos. So this new addition to Seymour’s library was our morning read aloud.

In the afternoon we shared stories from Donata Montanari‘s Children Around the World. We enjoyed reading about children’s lives in different countries: their school experiences, their homes, their traditions, the languages they speak, their parents’ jobs and tasks and their favourite pasttimes. This inspired our own writing where students shared information about themselves and their families thinking all the while about what a child somewhere else in the world might want to know. Lots of great writing and wonderful sharing!

Elementary teachers – What did you share in your classroom this week? Do you get a chance to read out loud every day?