Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! NFPB 2014

I have spent all week in my garden. So much so that I am dreaming about compost and worms and transplanting plants. This lead me to some titles I am adding to my class nonfiction collection next week. As I have been conferencing with kids about what they would like to see more of in our nonfiction areas of our classroom library, books about plants, gardens and growing have come up a lot. So these four books will be new additions (although they are not all recent releases) and hopefully of interest to my little gardening/plant enthusiasts.

Dirt: The Scoop on Soil written by Natalie M. Rosinsky and illustrated by Sheree Boyd (published in 2002)

Lots of information on the different parts of dirt: humus, silt, rocks and pebbles, clay and sand. Each of these parts is talked about in some detail. I enjoyed the sections on the decomposers who eat dead plants and how insects and animals help loosen the soil as they crawl through it. The book does mention keeping our soil healthy but it doesn’t go into much detail. Thee are some experiments in the back of the book to try. A nice addition, in my opinion, would have been a section on how to make and maintain a compost bin/pile.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

How Does a Seed Sprout? And other Questions about . . . Plants by Melissa Stewart A Good Question book (published in 2014)

Organized in a question/answer format this is a book for stronger readers (late primary/early intermediate) or great to use as a read aloud – even just a few questions at a time. I appreciated the detailed drawings of the six stages of a bean plant sprouting and the pictures of a pine tree’s life cycle. There is an index in the back and more information for further reading and websites to visit. This would be a great resource for a plants/seeds unit.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

Grow with me Ladybug by Kate Riggs (published in 2013)

This Grow with Me series published by Creative Paperbacks is an ideal reading level for upper primary (and older) students to be reading independently. Full of lots of photographs (including many magnified close ups), detailed information and nonfiction features such as an index, glossary and fact boxes. While the focus of this book is to talk about the lifecycle of the ladybug, there is a lot of other interesting information shared:

  • Protective Measures
  • Living to Eat
  • A Bug for all Seasons

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons (published in 2012)

The illustrations here are incredible and give so many specific details about how ladybugs grow, what they eat and how they survive in different seasons. This book would make a fantastic read aloud. I loved the page that explains that there are many different kinds of ladybugs – possibly up to 5,000 different types world wide with 475 different kinds in North America. The illustration depicts ten different types with different colours and spot patterns. Children will come away with an excellent understanding of the life cycle of a ladybug, how they help keep the population of garden pests down and how each of their body parts function.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

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.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 47/65 complete!

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!

What’s it like to be sister number three?

We seemed to be all about girl power this weekend at the library – maybe because it was just my daughter and I, but our big stack of books seemed to include a lot of books about very cool girls – some books new to us and some old favourites.

Two books to talk about featured the youngest sister in a family of three girls. Not fairy tale stories where everything comes in threes including sisters – but books from the here and now that explored themes of identity, self-esteem, and acceptance.

Award winning, Suki’s Kimono is a family favourite at our house. We love how Suki possesses a joyful inner spirit and how she lives in the moment not worrying about what the world might think.  Suki adores her blue cotton kimono – for the memories that it holds and the way it makes her feel. She vows to wear it on her first day of school despite the disapproval of her older sisters and manages to maintain the magical happy feeling of wearing this special kimono throughout her day even when questioned and taunted by classmates.  Written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch.

Look at that cover. Aren’t you just rooting for Velma before you even know her issues or struggles? Kevin Hawkes, illustrator, helps create a wonderfully unique character in Alan Madison’s Velma Gratch & the way cool butterfly. Velma arrives in first grade in the shadow of her two older sisters known for their seemingly perfect qualities – athletic abilities, spectacular spelling and marvelous math. Velma wanted to be noticed but for what? She chooses some quite foolish ways to stand out: running the slowest, singing the loudest, muddling her math . . . None bring quite the effect she is hoping for. Slowly, Velma learns to recognize a passion – science. When her class begins to learn about butterflies she twists wonderfully new words around in her mouth – metamorphosis, conservatory, migration. Not only does Velma come into her own as a butterfly expert, but on the class field trip to the conservatory, Velma is noticed by a monarch who lands on her finger and doesn’t leave for days.

Velma releases her monarch with the others from the conservatory a few days later, waving goodbye as they begin their journey south. Velma has gained a little power of flight herself as she floats home between her sisters, happy and confident.

Isn’t it wonderful when the youngest members of a family can teach everyone a thing or two?

Stories that came our way today

Our classroom read aloud mid morning was an information story book to practice asking questions and inferring from our background knowledge.

Caterpillar Caterpillar

Written by Vivian French (author of many favourite information story books) and illustrated by Charlotte Voake, Caterpillar Caterpillar is all about a little girl learning about the caterpillar’s development through the help of her patient and knowledgeable grandfather. We realized our background knowledge related to insects has really grown because of all of our research about walking sticks (our classroom pets). We had lots of questions about the caterpillars shedding their skin and wondered if like stick bugs, they ate their skin? Do they have suction cups on their legs to be able to travel on the underside of leaves? Are the butterfly eggs sticky to stay stuck to the leaves? They must be because they don’t fall off in the rain. But then somebody else pointed out that maybe the eggs are only laid on the underside of leaves to protect them. Can caterpillars spray a substance to keep enemies away like some stick bugs can? Great questions and discussion today!

In the afternoon, we walked to Strathcona Library to visit Ms. Hong and have a story time at our public library! What a great way to fit our daily 30 minutes of physical activity into the school day! And . . . what a wonderful story!


Ms. Hong read us Orange Peel’s Pocket written by Rose Lewis and cheerfully illustrated by Grace Zong. Chang Ming goes in search of answers to the question – What is China like? by wandering into shops and businesses where she can learn more about her cultural heritage. Everyone slips something mysterious into her pocket (how fun to guess what each item might be when Ms. Hong read aloud!) – a poem, a peony, a recipe for noodle soup, etc. Now Orange Peel (Chang Ming) can share her heritage with her classmates.

A lovely end to our day. . . When we returned to class, Edwin shared a drum given to him by his grandfather and showed us a rattle carved from a special tree where eagles nested and gifted to him by his uncle. Sharing of his stories and culture – thank you Edwin!