Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds

It’s funny how one’s focus can change when looking at the classroom library. For a while, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nonfiction titles in my room. Last summer I started to get anxious about whether or not I had enough books in the room that my Grade 2/3s could pick up and read independently. It seemed like my “best” nonfiction titles were books that I needed to read to my students. Which was wonderful because I had some amazing titles to use as we model strategies, but what about when it was independent reading time? Did I have enough titles that students could read by themselves with success? My book shopping focussed on purchasing titles that I knew my students could manage on their own, especially as we built strategies to read nonfiction text over the year. Some of my favourite books that I added?

  • The Discover More Series by Scholastic
  • Nicola Davies Flip the Flap and Find out books which include Who Lives Here? and Who’s Like Me?
  • Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? and Who Has These Feet?
  • A huge array of Bobbie Kalman titles
  • The Are you a . . . ? series by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  • The Amazing Animal Series by Kate Riggs

NonfictionText for Independent Reading There's a Book for That

Now, here I am a year later. Again, thinking about the books in my room . . . What is my focus now? That I want some “Oh, wow!” titles to read aloud. I want to make sure that just as I am reading a variety of picture books and some engaging novels, that I have a real variety of excellent nonfiction picture books to read aloud. Sometimes to model/practice a strategy, sometimes to enhance our learning on a particular subject and sometimes just because, the more we read, the more we know and I want my students to be inspired and curious about learning all year long!

I am fortunate to be looping my Grade 2/3 class into Grade 3/4 and so I have a sense of this group of children, what they wonder about and what I think might inspire them. Last year, I noticed that they were intrigued by stories – folklore, Aboriginal tales, stories from around the world and stories about things that really happened. They were very curious about the stories of people and how these stories connected to us in our classroom. It made me realize that I haven’t been reading enough biographies. I also want to focus on places around the world and the wonder of the world around us. Last year, students loved learning about animals from each continent and had endless questions about habitats.  I know we love art and books and music. So, I have some sense of what kinds of books I need to share.

Knowing how busy school can get and knowing how I sometimes need a one stop shop when I am planning, I decided to take advantage of the time summer has to offer to amass a huge list of amazing nonfiction read alouds. I was looking for titles that my Grade 3/4 class would enjoy. Some are favourites from previous years and some I have yet to read myself. Thank goodness for the wonderful book bloggers out there that I used for inspiration. So here is my list of 25 “wonder inducing” nonfiction read alouds. A reference for me and one that I am sharing here.

The book I plan to use to launch my year: On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky This book made my own thoughts whirl and swirl and race around my head. It has all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 On a Beam of Light

Based on some picture book biographies I already loved, I grew that list to include:

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin written by Jen Bryant  and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Stewart

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Eric Puybaret

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon written by Jaqueline Davies illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Biographies - Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Biographies Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

Some titles to explore amazing places and the world around us:

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Redwoods by Jason Chin

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins

A Rock is Lively written by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin

Fire! by Celia Godkin

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world by Allan Drummond

The World Around us Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

And to learn about creatures great and small:

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

Wonder Inducing NonFiction Read Alouds There's a Book for That

 And a title to be released this fall:

Is This Panama?: A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill  and illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Is this Panama?

Will I read all of these titles aloud this year? Maybe not. Perhaps interests and passions will take us in different directions. But this list will help keep me on track to make sure I am sharing lots of books that inspire both learning and thinking in my room!

Do you have some other must share nonfiction titles for Grade 3/4 listeners? Would love to hear your suggestions!

I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday event that KidLit Frenzy hosts. Visit Alyson’s blog to see what books are shared this week.

NFPB2013leaves

Monday April 1st, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

IMG_1587I missed last week’s Monday reads blogging and the #IMWAYR community as I was away on a holiday with no internet access.

But lots of time for reading! And read I did . . .

This was our daily beach walk that did interrupt many quiet hours of reading 🙂 So peaceful!

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share your own reading!

This is my reading for the last 2 weeks! (Bolded that so nobody thinks I didn’t eat or sleep and crammed all of this reading into one week!)

More time to read allowed me to cross off three more titles from my 20 must read novels in 2013 list. 11 done. 9 to go.

Many novels consumed:

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper Although hard to read at times – the subject matter is heavy – the slave trade and the horrific treatment of slaves . . . I couldn’t put this title down. Read it in a day and was lost in the story. Tragic but full of hope and resilience. Reminded me of the adult novel The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. In Copper Sun,  we follow Amari, a fifteen year old girl, stolen from her village in Africa and taken aboard a ship sending slaves to the Carolinas. When she is sold and brought to a rice plantation, she meets Polly, an indentured servant also living there. The two girls have an opportunity finally to escape but their path to posible freedom seems almost impossible. What a story.

coppersun

Shine written by Lauren Myracle This book catches you quick and holds on tight. Part of what pulled me through the pages was the mystery element to the story. Just who was responsible for such a violent and upsetting assault against Patrick, Cat’s best friend who seems to have been attacked because he is gay. But there is much more to this story than a simple “who done it?” theme. It explores addiction, small town hate and poverty, family secrets and loyalty that endures. 

shine

How it Ends by Laura Wiess There is something about this book. I finished it almost a week ago but it continues to weave its way into my thinking. Many stories are intertwined within this novel. First, that of seventeen year old Hanna. We also follow the story of her elderly neighbours and their history in Hanna’s life. But another story is offered – told on audiobook that Hanna and Helen (the neighbour) listen to together. This story and Helen’s history are what keep tugging at me. There are tender memories, issues of aging and illness, regrets and moments of extreme and simple joy all mixed up with such sadness, true horror and much grief. The teenage tribulations of Hanna were okay but these other layers of the story really captured me. Very emotional read.

how-it-ends_

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson I was so happy to settle back into the world of Hattie! Such an honourable, honest and likeable character. I want to purchase both Hattie novels and put them aside for my daughter to read in a few years. They are must reads I think, as Hattie has such character.

hattie after after

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake This book was a very pleasant surprise. I had seen this title on 2013 lists but hadn’t heard many details. I was completely engrossed in the story of Georgie, a young girl who when faced with news of her sister’s death refuses to believe it. Even when there is a body. And a funeral. Georgie is some girl – thirteen years old and full of spunk. She is a sharpshooter (whoa this girl and her gun . . . ) and possesses a keen mind. Her sister’s disappearance is a mystery to be solved and she sets out determined to find answers. Not going to spoil anything by giving away plot points but will highly recommend this book for those who love mysteries, adventure and historical fiction (Placid, Wisconsin 1871 is the setting).

one came home

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens We happily finished this dramatic story over the holiday. I have been reading this aloud to my children. What adventure! Also much mystery, fantasy and even humour. I think I appreciated how well written this book is precisely because I read it aloud. The dialogue was so much fun to read. We can’t wait to read the second book in this trilogy.

ermerald-atlas

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr So much of this novel is bittersweet. A sad story of a girl defined by a reputation that plagues her. I really like Sara Zarr as an author. Her book How to Save a Life is one of my favourites novels I’ve read in 2013.

story of a girl

Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone I love stories that highlight intergenerational relationships so loved the connections between Louise and her grandparents. Some wonderfully quirky characters in this middle grade novel but some definite sadness as Louise begins to face memories of her mother’s death.

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. We listened to this as an audio book (read by James Avery) on the driving parts of our holiday. It hooked the entire family – we loved the story, the history and the hilarious expressions.

BudNotBuddy

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2) by Shannon Hale Princess Academy is one of my favourite middle grade stories so I was thrilled to get my hands on the sequel. I am a big fan of Hale and her style of fairytale inspired fantasy.

palace of stone

Three other titles I have loved in this past few weeks:

Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes Oh Henkes is so on to a good thing with Penny. Think this might be my favourite title yet. Seriously hope Henkes keeps creating new characters and new titles. He is an absolute master of the illustrated story.

PennyMarble

Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska Loved this book and the questions and wondering it inspires.

?????

Beach by Elisha Cooper I find Cooper’s books so beautifully simple and soothing. Snippets, small moments and observations of a beach day. Would be a great text to model how a story can be told in doodles and descriptions.

beach-by-elisha-cooper-cover

I am currently reading The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen as a read aloud to my children. We are very excited because I purchased tickets to go see Jennifer in mid April here in Vancouver. Our whole family are fans and so we are all going! Yippee!

I just started One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. This book has been on my TBR shelf for some time so looking forward to reading it!

What are you reading?