Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.
This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.
Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop
Kids love cheetahs. But what is the story of their endangered status and what is being done about it? That is the story that this title showcases – in particular the story of Laurie Marker and the work she does at theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.
Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois
Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.
How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.
Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth
“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that.
What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam
This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand
Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People
Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Such a beautifully written and organized book – almost like a nature journal or a scrap book. Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.
I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange
Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive? Introduced in order of their evolutionary arrival, read poems and facts about such creatures as the squirrel, ants, geckos and diatoms. Fascinating and a lyrical experience all at once. Blending of art, poetry and nonfiction. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!