I am not sure how many of you have read the The Bear Report by Thyra Heder. It is a beautiful, playful and imaginative title. And Olafur, a polar bear, is a transformative Arctic tour guide. Transformative and inspirational. This book got me thinking about how much we learn when we travel. And then I started thinking about how much we learn when we travel in a book.
And so, yes, it makes sense that a not really nonfiction book starts my post about some incredible nonfiction titles. Titles that let us travel to new places and learning through their pages. I feel that these titles do a particularly fantastic job of capturing a sense of place.
Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine, Mandy 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.
This is my fourth year participating in this meme.
In 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.
In the second year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.
Last year, I shared nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.
This year my theme is about travelling the world and learning about place and more via the pages of a nonfiction picture book. These are ten (“ahem” eleven) of my favourite nonfiction titles. If I have blogged about them before, I have shared the link.
Travel to Chengdu, China when you read Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff; illustrated by Gijisbert van Frankenhuyzen (published 2013)
Jasper’s story is one you just might not know and all of us should. A terrible instance of animals being captured and imprisoned so that their bile can be extracted for use in traditional Asian medicine. Jasper is a bear that was rescued by Jill Robinson (the author) and her Animals Asia team and brought to a sanctuary in China. He had been held in a cage for 15 years and was very weak and injured from so many years of cruel captivity.
Travel to Puerto Rico when you read Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Medal
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. Gorgeous collage images invite you into the treetops with these beautiful birds.
Travel to Antarctica when you read Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester (published in 2012)
This book defies categorization. It is a fictional story of young Sophie Scott travelling to Mawson Station in Antarctica with her father who is the captain of an icebreaker, the Aurora Australis. But it is based on the author’s real experience of travelling to Antarctica. And it is full of all kinds of facts about icebergs, icebreakers, life in a research station, Antarctic animals and the history of Antarctic exploration. I’m calling it an information story book and placing it under the nonfiction umbrella.
Such a story of adventure, misadventure, perseverance and survival.
Travel to Australia when you read Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne (first published by Walker Books Australia in 2013, first U.S. edition 2015 by Candlewick Press)
The illustrations are so unique. Dry, dust seems to float off the page. I feel like I am under a hot sun, staring at wide expanse of dry grass, with little green. There is absolute mood in these pictures. Action, drama in the simmering Australian climate. Limited colours and striking lines. A fantastic book that celebrates both kangaroos and the Australian landscape.
Travel to wooded areas of California when you read Redwoods by Jason Chin (published in 2009)
It’s not just that redwood trees are majestic, this book brings some kind of added magic to learning about these forest giants. Part fantasy, part nonfiction – this title by Chin is a magical information story book. Learn about each level of the tree from small sapling to the canopy hundreds of feet off the ground in a redwood tree over 350 feet tall!
Travel to the Galapágos Islands when you read Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor (published in 2014)
This was a powerful read aloud in my classroom last year. This title let us talk about extinction. It allowed students to grasp the true vulnerability of so many species. We read this after reading various books about endangered animals. Reading about a special creature that actually became extinct prompted both outrage and sadness. “So many animals could disappear because of humans . . . ” one child observed solemnly.
Travel to Ghana when you read about Emmanuel Ofusu Yeboah in Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls (published in 2015)
An inspirational biography of Emmanuel Ofusu Yeboah who rode across Ghana (more than 400 miles) to raise money for and awareness about people living with disabilities. A story of persistence, endurance and the human spirit.
Travel back to Cuba in the 1930s and learn about when you read Drum Dream Girl Dreaming: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López (published in 2015)
Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dreamed of drumming but this was not a dream for girls. This beautifully illustrated story gives us a peek into the colours of Cuba and the persistent dream of one girl to play her music.
Travel to Minnesota in the wintertime Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (published in 2014)
What about animals who must survive long winters where snow is not a novelty but a part of life? Is the snow a burden? A hardship? How do they survive? How do they adapt to the long winter months? These are questions that children will find answers to in this stunning collection of poems, lino cut prints and informative paragraphs.
Travel to Iceland when you read Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin (published in 2012)
An incredible story of two children on the island of Heimaey in Iceland who take part on the Puffling Patrol to assist young pufflings making their way to the sea. Unfortunately we learn in the back pages that the puffling population in Iceland is rapidly declining.
What are some of your favourite nonfiction titles that honour place?