Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

I am reading nonfiction titles. I will share some new titles soon. Promise. But, this week I just have to highlight some more of the book love being celebrated in my room for nonfiction reading!

Every January, we implement Nonfiction Reading Day as part of Reading Workshop. Of course, students can and do read nonfiction throughout the week but Tuesdays are the day we do more nonfiction book talks, share a variety of responses to nonfiction text, teach about the features and most importantly, provide lots of time to read nonfiction titles. It is noisy. The room buzzes with learning and chatter. Lots of sharing. Lots of wondering. Lots of reading more to find out more.

Many books I book talk need the “sticky note list” for who gets to read it next. This book about stick insects was passed on quickly today as the first reader was so offended by a photograph of a bird eating a stick insect that she passed it off to other interested readers and went and talked to the stick bugs in our cage, consoling them and murmuring proof of their safety in the tank! Then, she found a fact book and settled into reading.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

I love that nonfiction reading often means leaping up to search for places on the map!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

Nonfiction reading lends itself to discussion and sharing. Yes, there is lots of talk. But it is purposeful talk. On topic talk. Teaching talk.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

I often observe rereading happening between students. “Listen to this.” “Hold on, let me read that again? “Do you think that means . . . ?” “Well it also says . . .”

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

I am also noticing students choosing a few books on the same topic and reading to confirm and verify what they are learning between texts.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

These girls (above) are reading Grow with Me Ladybug by Kate Riggs and Zoom in on Ladybugs by Melissa Stewart

grow with me ladybug Zoom in on  Lady bugs

Important thinking happens as students include their thinking on Fact/React sheets (thanks to Adrienne Gear for the inspiration for this BLM) We are working to “react” in various ways: Does the fact inspire a question or a wonder? Confirm something we already knew a bit about? Confuse us? Connect to something we have experienced? Make us have a physical or emotional reaction? Lots of thinking is being shared

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

Students are loving our focus on nonfiction. One little reader remarked last Tuesday, “I wish everyday could be nonfiction day!” “It can,” I pointed out. “Oh yeah!” she said. “I’m going to read more of this book tomorrow!”

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A celebration of nonfiction enthusiasm

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!


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!

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.


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Cheetahs, fast as the wind

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

It must be because cheetahs are the fastest land animal that they are so fascinating and heroes of the animal kingdom. Many times I hear children express that their favourite animal is a cheetah.

As I continue to explore the Amazing Animal series by Kate Riggs, I read Cheetahs (published in 2011). Like the first book in this series (Gorillas) I appreciated the format of this book. Photographs are full page and colourful and the text is a larger, less intimidating size. The end of the book includes an index, websites for further reading and a fun cheetah tale explaining why cheetahs have tear lines.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday There is a Book for that

Some interesting facts?

  • While most cheetahs live in Africa, there are some living in Iran.
  • Male cheetahs hunt together in groups called coalitions and these groups stay together for life.
  • Because it is all about speed. . . how fast are they? They can run up to 70 miles/121 kilometers per hour!

I know this book will be very popular once my students discover this series! It will be a book I frequently recommend as I know it can be read independently by most students in my room.

In our school library I found another nonfiction title on cheetahs: My Life in the Wild – Cheetah (A Life Cycle Book) (published in 2011)part of the Animal Planet series. Written by Meridith Costain and illustrated by Mick Posen.

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday There is a Book for that

This book is divided into a narrative illustrated story about a cheetah growing up and back pages full of much more information. The illustrations are so true to life that they are almost kind of creepy – but I’m sure students would just find them very cool. The story is relatively easy to read for young readers and informative enough to hold the attention of little naturalists wanting to learn something new on every page.

“My brothers and I are born. I cannot see my mother yet but I can smell her. I snuggle into her warm tummy, drinking her milk. She licks my wriggly brother clean with her raspy tongue.”

The final pages include a full page glossary, more information and diagrams of other members of the cat family and key facts about cheetahs (scientific name, weight, habitat, etc). There are also four pages of Did you know? facts that accompany each illustration from the story. So, for example, the text above has a picture of a mother cheetah nursing and cleaning her cubs. In the back of the book the Did you know? fact is

“Cheetahs usually give birth to three to five cubs.”

Additional information is included about how the mother makes a nest, when the cubs begin to crawl, when their eyes fully open and how they make sense of the world before this. Other facts focus on how cheetahs hunt, fur markings, and differences between male and female cheetahs.

Other titles in this series that I know would be popular in my class: 

Animal Planet series  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday There is a Book for that

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 35/60 complete

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013!


Anyone have any favourite nonfiction animal series they would like to share?

Monday July 8th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! The #IMWAYR community is a fantastic community of readers with many wonderful titles to share.

I found some wonderful picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

The #1 hit of the week in my house was definitely . . . 

Betty Bunny Didn’t Do it written by Michael B. Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch I adore Jorisch’s work and loved the first Betty Bunny title so I was excited to read these other books in the collection. I “test read” these books out on my own children (10 years old x 2) Well . . . this book was SUCH a hit that my son talked about it for days – almost to the point of telling strangers about it. He didn’t go that far but he did tell people on the soccer field, our old neighbour and even his Grandma (after pulling the phone out of my hands and reading her the whole book over the phone). This book, he assured me, was a great book to read. I quote:

“Mom, this book has great morals. Well, maybe not for adults but for kids :-)”

Now I’m not sure what he means by morals . . . considering what my children seemed to learn from this book:

  • Telling very tall tales is charming and creative and not an avoidance of responsibility
  • Admitting that a statement is an honest lie is incredibly funny
  • Claiming that coming clean with the whole entire truth would hurt one’s feelings is a brilliant way to avoid telling the truth!

An interesting look at what it means to be honest. Much humour. Much charm. Much to repeat and relive!

betty bunny didn't do it

Betty Bunny Wants Everything written by Michael B. Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch We liked this title as well although it doesn’t rate as high as the Betty Bunny story above. Betty Bunny is just a little too precocious. Seems like it was going to be a wonderful book to talk about consumerism and smart money strategies but it just . . . wasn’t. Still worth reading even to have those discussions of – does Betty Bunny take it too far? Does she really learn anything? Are characters always likeable? Even when you loved them in another story?

Betty Bunny eants Everything

Oliver and his Alligator written and illustrated by Paul Schmid What happens when you swallow all of your anxiety (well – have your alligator do it for you . . . )? Then there is nothing to be afraid of and things get a little dull! Deals with first day of school nerves in a very creative way!

oliver and his alligator

Tea Rex written and illustrated by Molly Idle A T rex for tea? Perfect! Thought the small talk was divine and the illustrations absolutely charming.


Can I play Too? written and illustrated by Mo Willems All Elephant and Piggie books are huge hits in my classroom. I still find some that I haven’t read and it is always such a pleasant surprise. This is one of my new favourites. Love the creative ways these characters try to be inclusive in their games. There is humour but also some pretty awesome modelling of how to play.


A Big Guy Took My Ball! written and illustrated by Mo Willems Again, Willems creates a winner.

A big guy took my ball

The Epiplectic Bicycle written and illustrated by Edward Gorey First published in 1969 but I just discovered it. Odd. Quirky. Many shades of absurd. Find it and experience a number of mysterious adventures.

Epiplectic Bicycle

More Bears written by Kenn Nesbitt  and illustrated by Troy Cummings Since I am always quite delighted when there is a bear (or two or three) in a story, I was particularly pleased that the narrator of this little tale was persistently encouraged to include more bears! Can see this being a very amusing read aloud.


My nonfiction reading was from the Amazing Animals series by Kate Riggs– I blogged about it here.


In novels . . .

My Happy Life written by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Eriksson A special little read that tackles some big issues: friends moving away, grief, sadness . . . So often we don’t find issues like this handled in a beginning chapter book for young readers. I appreciated the fact that there was space for thinking and discussion (thinking this would be a great read aloud in a primary classroom) and that it breathed resiliency and learning life lessons. And I adore Eva Eriksson as an illustrator. 


The Center of Everything written by Linda Urban I just finished this book this morning and I feel like I should have cradled it under my arm all day. Sometimes a book is small but powerful. This book isn’t long. It takes place over the course of a day. But it is written in a way that it holds big space in your thoughts and your heart. Reminds us that all of the little moments make up our very large lives. You never know which moments will shape you. Such a beautiful middle grade read that I will be putting in the hands of many young readers. This book is sad but soothing. There is grief but yet, reading this book is kind of like healing. A snapshot into the life of Ruby Pepperdine that speaks to a part in all of us. A quiet WOW book.

center of everything

I also read 2 adult novels

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Powerful.


Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane Mystery. Detectives. Corruption. Grit. So not my usual read but was in the mood.

Gone Baby Gone cover

Next up? I am starting Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. My children and I are more than halfway through Torn Away by James Heneghan. A huge TBR pile stares at me but not sure what will be the other books of the week yet. It’s summer . . . and so hopefully it will be many of them!

Non fiction Picture Book Wednesday: Gorillas, the Largest of the Apes

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

What kid doesn’t love learning more about apes? Gorillas are the largest and strongest of the apes and a fascinating topic!

One of my absolute favourite nonfiction titles to introduce children to the great apes is the book Ape written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White (published 2007). Shared in my classroom here. The pictures are gorgeous and the text fascinating. An excellent read aloud for the primary classroom.


A goal I have this year is to fill my classroom with texts that many of my students can manage with independence. Books that will be picked up and read during book choice time or when learning more about a particular animal.  I was so pleased to discover Gorillas by Kate Riggs (published 2012). Here is a book that my Grade 2/3s can read on their own with real success.


When my students learn about an animal, they are looking to find answers to some specific questions: How are the babies/young born and raised? What kind of interactions does the animal have with others? How does the animal’s body help it to do things? 

This book – with an almost magazine style format – thin, sleek and full of facts invites the reader in to do a lot of learning. Discover what gorillas eat (lots of wild celery it turns out), how their babies grow and develop and the dynamics of their family groupings. We also learn how these gorillas spend their time – much eating (60 pounds of food a day) and napping (in addition to the 13 to 15 hours of night time sleep). Physical features are described and details of their habitat are outlined.

Features that make this book especially accessible:

  • large full page colourful photographs with relevant captions
  • bold words with definitions at the bottom of the page
  • an index, suggestions for further reading and websites listed at the end of the book

This is a title that I purchased for my class nonfiction collection and I am happy that it was one of four titles in this series that I ordered at the same time. I think this will be a series my students will have a lot of success with! I look forward to reading more of these books by Kate Riggs.

The Amazing Animals titles in my collection:

kateriggs books

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 33/60 complete 🙂

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013!


Do you have any favourite nonfiction titles about gorillas?