Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Start with Science series featuring Oscar, the curious kitten

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

Sometimes a title doesn’t have to be the “be all, end all” source of information on a topic. Sometimes, it just needs to begin to inspire wonder. These Start with Science titles featuring the curious Oscar and the various friends he meets are ideal for the early primary classroom to begin bigger conversations about a variety of science topics. I introduced my class to this series with Oscar and the Frog and many children later asked me to purchase more of “those Oscar question books.” So I did! Now our classroom collection holds five titles 🙂

 Start with Science The Oscar Books

Oscar and the Bat: A Book About Sound (published 2009) This book introduces the concept of loud and quiet noises and compares close and far away sounds. I like how the beginning of a list is started – what makes no sound when it is still but makes sound when it begins to move? For example, grass in the wind has a swooshing sound, moving water has a sound that still water does not, etc. It would be great to expand on this idea in a classroom brainstorming session. At the back of the book, there is a review of what Oscar learned:

  • When we listen to what is going on around us, it gives us clues to what is happening. Close your eyes and listen!
  • Both living and nonliving things make sounds
  • There are many different kinds of sound – some are considered opposite (i.e. deep vs. high)

Oscar and the Bat:  Start with Science The Oscar Books

Oscar and the Bird: A Book about Electricity (published 2009) In this title, Oscar learns that electricity is a kind of energy that people use to make things move, light up, make sounds or heat up. The bird who is teaching Oscar explains that electricity might come from a battery or from wires (power lines) or even from lightning – that electricity is all around us. In the final summary, the review includes:

  • what electricity is for
  • how electricity works
  • what electricity is made from (chemicals, burning coal or oil, natural sources such as wind)

Oscar and the Bird:  Start with Science The Oscar Books

Oscar and the Snail: A Book about Things we use (published 2009) This title feels like it is best suited for the youngest of learners. Learn about where materials come from (i.e. wood is from nature vs glass is made by people, using sand) and how materials have different qualities and different best uses. A book to inspire a discussion about what materials we find in a home or classroom and where they might have come from.

Oscar and the Snail:  Start with Science The Oscar Books

Oscar and the Cricket: A Book about Moving and Rolling (published 2008) This title is a great book to introduce beginning concepts around physics. How do things begin moving, keep moving and what makes them stop? Vocabulary like push, pull, force, and travel are used. Oscar learns that different objects move differently over varied surfaces (rough, smooth, etc.) It is also explained that animals have muscles that make them move and that they don’t require a push or pull to get started.

Oscar and the Cricket:  Start with Science The Oscar BooksOscar and the Frog: A Book about Growing (published 2007) This title introduces concepts of growing and how different living things begin, grow and develop. I liked the connections/comparisons between plants and animals. Children learn about a life cycle.

Oscar and the Frog:  Start with Science The Oscar Books

There is one more title in this collection but I haven’t read it. (Oscar and the Moth: A Book about Light and Dark)

I think all of these titles are well suited to buddy reading or reading to an adult where there is time for discussion and further questions. In a K-2 class, they would be great read alouds to help determine what children might already know about a topic and what else they are wondering. If you are looking for more texts that your primary students can manage independently, these titles would make a nice addition to the nonfiction section of your classroom library.

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 42/60 complete

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.


Monday February 25th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I love Sunday nights when I reflect on my reading over the week and join Kelle and Jen’s meme to share books read from picture books to young adult novels.

Because I am really supposed to be writing report cards, my book descriptions will be shorter than usual. Report card writing has also interfered with my reading time. This week I only finished one novel: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a Printz title by Benjamin Alire Saenz. But, oh, what a novel it was . . . So much I loved about this book. It was a truly beautiful read. Loved the relationship between mothers and sons. The respect for family. The search for who exactly one might be. I love the contemplative narration. The vulnerability revealed. Oh, did I adore this book . . .

Aristotle and Dante- It's monday What are you reading?

Picture books I read:

Ten Birds by Cybele Young A great book to spark discussion! I personally love the illustrations. They are wonderfully quirky and odd. A counting theme but much more . . .

Ten Birds - It's Monday!

The Little Red Fish by Taeeun Yoo Library love and mixed up feelings of real and unreal as one travels literally, and not, through the pages of a book. Stunning!

littleredfish It's Monday!

These Hands written by Margaret H. Mason and illustrated by Floyd Cooper Such voice in the Grandfather teaching his little grandson what “these hands” can do. And then . . . what “these” hands cannot do because of racist ideas. Beautiful book. I need to own it.

these hands It's Monday!

Goal! written by Mina Javaherbin illustrated by A.G. Ford My students adored this book and wrote fantastic reviews. The illustrations are so full of life, the text beautiful to read aloud. I loved the celebration of play. These words in the text were my favourite: “When we play, we forget to worry. When we run, we are not afraid.”

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin

The Monster Returns by Peter McCarty A sequel to Jeremy Draws a Monster – don’t think it would be as cute if read as a stand alone. But as a sequel, charming.

The Monster Returns - It's Monday!

Looking for a Moose written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Randy Cecil Wonderful combination of energetic playful language and sweet images.

Have you ever seen a moose — a long-leggy moose– a branchy-antler, dinner-diving, bulgy-nose moose?”

Looking for a moose - It's Monday

Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand Hillenbrand writes such whimsical, sweet stories. Adventure shared by two friends. Adorable.

Kite Day - It's Monday

Nonfiction titles:

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg This was a fantastic read aloud that held my Grade 2 reading group on the edge of their seats. How could a 62 year old woman plan and execute a stunt such as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Here is the story of Annie Edson Taylor, determined to make her fortune by being the first person to go over the falls.  A compelling and sad story.

QueenofFalls - It's Monday!

Watch this video of VanAllsburg discussing creating the book:

Oscar and the Frog by Geoff Waring A cute little book that introduces concepts of growing and how different living things begin, grow and develop. I liked the connections between plants and animals.

Oscar and the Frog

I discovered that this book is part of an entire collection of Oscar books to introduce science/nature concepts to young readers. Would love to get all of the titles for my nonfiction collection.

Oscar Collection