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

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

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

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

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

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

The Worm by Elise Gravel (published 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wild about Bears by Jeannie Brett (published 2014)

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

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

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014

Recently I shared a picture book wish list – ten titles that I would love to own (some out now and some to be released later this year). This got me thinking about nonfiction titles I might like.

And . . . surprise, surprise; another list was born!

Ten nonfiction picture books I would love to possess:

Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares (October 2012) 

I featured this title on a list of picture book biographies about inspiring women. When I had to return it to the library, I vowed to find a copy for my own collection. Such an inspiring and beautifully illustrated title.

 Helen's Big World Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014

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

I just read this book last week and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It is a story that I really want to share with my students and think it would be reread often as part of our classroom collection. Jasper is a bear that was rescued by Jill Robinson (the author) and her Animals Asia team and brought to a sanctuary in China. Jill describes Jasper as courageous and loving; a symbol of forgiveness and hope.

Jasper's Story Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher (February 2014)

I do not love weeds in any way. The thought of learning to love weeds is kind of like trying not to itch a bug bit – borderline excruciating. But . . . I have heard that this book is lovely. The trailer looks incredible. I think I should own this book. Then I can love the weeds in this book and still battle with those in my garden. Those weeds that seem to always be winning. They seem to find many a way . . .

 Weeds Find a Way Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (March 2014)

Everyone who has written about this book has raved. I have book friends with very good taste.  Just the cover image has me curious about so much. Apparently this image was captured while the photographer watched this pupa for over six hours. Intrigued? Me too.

Handle with care Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond written by Patrick Dillon and illustrated by Stephen Biesty (March 2014) 

My students this year loved building structures (in play) and designing structures (in art). I know that this book would be adored. Images and cross sections of sixteen impressive buildings around the world.

 The Story of Buildings Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins (April 2014)

Steve Jenkins keeps making books that I simply must have. I have a large collection of Jenkins titles and use all of them frequently. And this cover . . . wow. Can’t wait to get this book and share it with my students.

 Eye to Eye Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (May 2014)

I read this book months ago and continue to think about the inspiring story of adventure and bravery. A female navigator setting world records for sailing from New York City to San Francisco around the tip of Cape Horn and its treacherous waters. What a story! I have been collecting picture book biographies and share many of them as read alouds. I am sure this one belongs in our collection.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

The Slug by Elise Gravel (August 2014)

I own The Fly, one of the first titles published in The Disgusting Critters series. I know these will be some of the most popular nonfiction titles in the room. I need to place them in our nonfcition bins and know they will never return to their spots until year’s end as they creep from book box to book box, child to child (or slime in the case of this guy below).

the slug Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (September 2014)

I have seen peeks of the inside of this book on a few blogs. Swoon.  Bryant and Sweet make beautiful books together. Enough said.

The Right Word Nonfiction picture book wish list July 2014 There's a Book for That

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (October 2014)

Yes, another Jenkins. ANOTHER JENKINS!! Hurrah! One for me please.

Creature Features Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 There's a Book for That


As always, I love to hear suggestions of other titles that must be on my list. List making, after all, is free. Until you put it in your pocket . .