Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit Collection

Last week Elisabeth Ellington put together this list: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction – one that was relevant from K-16 (as she teaches college)

From Elisabeth:

“What does a starter kit need? Representative titles that show the range and diversity of this genre. Books to read independently. Books to read together. Funny books. Serious books. A range of illustration styles. Books to teach writing. Books to teach research. Most of all, books to invite wonder and much more #booklove.”

She then wondered what we might include on our lists. I was so inspired I thought I would make my own. Which was much harder than it seemed. Elisabeth’s criteria made a lot of sense to me – especially thinking about books as invitations to wonder and to think about the world in new ways.

Finally, after a week of changing my mind, AND realizing that I couldn’t fit all of my favourites on one list, I chose ten incredible books.

Nonfiction a starter kit collection NFPB 2015 Ten titles for those new to nonfiction

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story. Amazing photographs from Ellen Harasimowicz.

 Handle with Care Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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

This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times. This book was absolutely fascinating to my students.

 Teh Boy who Loved Math Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White

This book introduces students to a huge variety of endangered and extinct animals. With some creatures, like the tiger, more details are provided about the animal including reasons for its vulnerable status. Heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. And the illustrations are breathtaking.

can we Save the Tiger? Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Gravity by Jason Chin

Visual story telling, simple text explain a complex concept so that all readers can grasp it. Accessible for young readers and engaging for older readers.

 Gravity Nonfiction Picture Books Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

What a rich engaging information story book. The reader is quickly wooed by a page of delicious desserts and treats with chocolate as a main ingredient . . . but where does chocolate come from? We travel to the rainforests of Central and South America and learn the very complicated series of natural events that make it possible to harvest the cocoa bean. Little bookworms on each page extend the learning and provide some humourous commentary,

no-monkeys-no-chocolate Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page 

Learn about the unique symbiotic relationships between specific creatures. Jenkins is, of course, nonfiction royalty and incredibly prolific often creating books with his wife Robin Page. I learned so much in this book – the children I have shared it with have been completely captured by it.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (published 2009)

How can a book about searching for snow leopards be so amazingly interesting when the snow leopards are never actually seen? Montgomery and Bishop tell an incredible tale about these magical and elusive creatures and their champion, scientist Tom McCarthy who has devoted his life’s work to their conservation.

 Saving the Ghost of the Mountain Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Bright Sky Starry City written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro tells the story of little Phoebe who helps her father set up telescopes outside of his shop to observe a special event in the night sky. Saturn and Mars are going to appear together in the sky. She fills the sidewalk with chalk drawings of the solar system and her mind fills with wonders and worries.

A beautiful story of father and daughter, of a curious girl wondering about space and astronomy, of a glorious sky full of stars and constellations. A mix of fiction and nonfiction with more information in the back matter detailing a number of the concepts from the story.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

Such a story of adventure, misadventure, perseverance and survival. This book is full of so many details to share – learn about exploration, polar landscapes, geography, history – all the while, being captured by one of the most incredible survival stories of our times.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Starter Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction

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!

#nfpb2015

What books would you include in your starter kit?

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited

I read a lot of nonfiction aloud to my class. I never get to as many titles as I intend to – the “must share” stack is always growing. It’s not necessarily due to lack of time. I make lots of time for nonfiction reading. It’s that I believe nonfiction read alouds need to be rich reading experiences. And so, they require time. Time for questions. Time for discussion. Time to think and absorb and ponder. We “stretch out” our read alouds over days and days – reading, writing, talking, drawing. I celebrate the time we take with each book because I know the learning is rich.

I thought I would make this post for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday be all about the celebration of and learning from our nonfiction reading this year.

Here are (most of) the titles we read together in this “stretched out” style. We also read many other nonfiction titles – some in their entirety, some just a few pages here or there.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

I chose some particularly important learning to highlight here.

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien

In this title we learned that a love for animals can be deep and a promise to protect them can be deeper. Alan Rabinowitz is a huge inspiration for my students. They felt his anxiety growing up stuttering and were inspired by his commitment to his work.

 A Boy and a Jaguar A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ivan’s story prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

 Ivan A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

This title allowed students to explore a question they had never before considered – just how do butterflies get to museums and science centres all over the world? But it did more than that. It gave students a close up view at the miraculous life cycle of a butterfly and allowed them to see the beauty in every stage.

 Handle with Care A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

This book gave my students hope. It energized them. It reminded them about the power of an individual to impact a community. When we closed the book, students made comments like this one: “I like Kate so much. It happened a long time ago but her soul probably still speaks for trees. She was one person who did so much.”

 The Tree Lady A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor

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.

Galapagos George A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Tiny Creatures The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Emily Sutton

This title prompted a lot of “Wows” and a lot of hand washing! 🙂 It is so important for students to wonder about the world they can not easily see. The power of something very tiny is a very big idea.

 Tiny Creatures A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Hadley Hooper

This title opened up the conversation about inspiration. What inspires an artist? What inspires any art? One child commented, “The book was about what inspired Matisse. Maybe we have inspiration all around us too.”

Iridesence of Birds A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Our learning climbs up the walls, surrounding us all year.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

We learned. Some things. A lot of things, in fact. Not close to everything. It’s a huge amazing world out there. But wow, did we learn.

We wondered. We pondered. We talked and listened. We developed our curiosity. We considered things from new perspectives. Most importantly, we considered our place in the world. What do we impact? What can we impact? What do we notice? What do we not yet understand? What do we plan to find out?

A year of reading nonfiction.  I have described reading nonfiction titles with a class as building shared knowledge, one learning layer at a time. How exciting it was to build this developing understanding of the world with this group of children this year.

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!

#nfpb2015Looking for nonfiction titles to read aloud? Check out this list: Nonfiction Picture Books for Reading Aloud

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Nonfiction 10 for 10 event is back for a third year! How happy am I to celebrate fantastic nonfiction picture books? Well, that is a silly question! Ecstatic of course.

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy 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.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

For 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. Last year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.

This year I am sharing my favourite nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

These books all allow us to look at the subject in a new way. It might be offering us an alternative glimpse of an animal or phenomenon. Maybe the book answers a question you never even knew you had. Or perhaps your learning gets turned on its head. All of these books had this impact on me.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy

I freely admit that I think sharks are one of the most truly terrifying creatures. But this book captivated me. Its mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites who hunt in the Farallon Islands hunt so successfully, kept me reading and interested to the final pages.

Different perspective? Think about the shark beyond its frightening predator status.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur. For example, the velociraptor was only the size of a modern day dog. The image shown is of a velociraptor on a leash near by a dog also out for a walk. So engaging

Different perspective? Allows the reader to imagine what it might be like to have dinosaurs around now by providing a sense of their size in reference to what we know. Dinosaurs, for a moment, materialize beside us rather than lay down in fossilized form in a photograph or drawing.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

Lyrical and visually stunning. I now love the weeds in this book but still battle with those in my garden. Those weeds that seem to always be winning. They seem to find many a way.

Different perspective? It is possible to see the beauty and the tenacity in weeds. Seeing beauty where one previously did not. I appreciated Holly Mueller‘s view on this book – that it lets you look at weeds as children do. First, with appreciation.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

What a rich engaging information story book. The reader is quickly wooed by a page of delicious desserts and treats with chocolate as a main ingredient . . . but where does chocolate come from? We travel to the rainforests of Central and South America and learn the very complicated series of natural events that make it possible to harvest the cocoa bean.

Different perspective? The amazing learning here is about how nature is not about isolated events or lone miracles but how a chain of events with each piece dependent on many others is necessary in order for things to happen. This book illustrates this to children in a way that makes this concept truly accessible and clear.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

A Leaf Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Beautiful nonfiction describing and hinting at all of the roles leaves can play – from “rain stopper” to “shade spiller” and many more.

Different perspective? The different perspective here is simple and complicated all at once – stretching the imagination. Absolutely beautiful.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story.

Different perspective? Poses and answers a question readers have not even entertained.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

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.

Different perspective? We often think about endangered animals (as we should) but this book allows us to think about those creatures and life forms that have survived and thrived. What are their secrets?

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

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. Read about sixteen birds in particular as you learn about different ways feathers are used. Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.

Different perspective? Stretches the reader’s imagination to think about various ways feathers are useful and needed for various types of birds. Many would not even have been considered.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley

Spectacular photographs showcasing the daily routines that many of us share – all a little different in different places but yet, so much the same.

Different perspective? The more we think we are different, the more we realize we have much in common. A wonderful reminder of this.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons written by Sara Levine with illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth 

How do our bones function within our skeletal system? What about compared to animal skeletons. What if we didn’t have certain bones or what if they were much different than they are? Can you imagine if we had extra bones attached to our spine? We’d have a tail! And what would that be like?

Different perspective? We often don’t think about our bones, their purposes and what it would be like if they were different. Fascinating questions to help us learn about the body (both human and various animals).

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2015: Change your perspective There's a Book for That

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

This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times.

Different perspective? The everyday, human side of genius. Revealed that when we are really good at one thing, we may not be good at other things (like laundry).

boy-who-loved-math

Are there books that fit this theme for you? That transformed your thinking about something? All of these titles to me highlight the amazing power of nonfiction picture books to teach and inspire us. When we are reading and sharing these books, we are always part of the learning journey.

Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There’s a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Mock Sibert Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Over the past three years, Alyson (of Kid Lit Frenzy) has hosted, and Kellee (of Unleashing Readers) and I have participated in a book challenge pushing ourselves to read more nonfiction picture books. Since we read many of the best nonfiction picture books published each year, in 2014 we decided to start hosting a Mock Sibert Award.

The Sibert Award is given annually to the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year. Although the Sibert Award is not just for picture books, we are going to focus on the nonfiction picture books we feel would be honored or win this year. To be honored/win the Sibert Award, the book must include these important elements and qualities:

  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
  • Appropriate organization and documentation.
  • Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
  • Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
  • Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
  • Respectful and of interest to children.

After reviewing the qualities and elements needed to win the Sibert Award, I chose these five titles as my Mock Sibert Finalists. On February 2nd when the winners are announced, I am hoping some of these picks will be on the list!

This was not an easy task! There were many nonfiction titles I treasured in 2014.

Check out Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers to see what Alyson and Kellee chose as their picks.

In making my final choices, I thought carefully about which titles would be particularly appealing to young readers – which books would inspire wonder, would be engaging and easy to navigate?  Each of these titles stands out to me as ideal nonfiction reading for children.

Listed in order of publishing date

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (March 2014)

This is one of the last nonfiction titles I read in 2014 and the first nonfiction read aloud I brought in to share with my class in January. I love what one child said very early on in our reading: “This book gives us questions but lets us find the answers.” The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story. It describes how the important work on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica allows the farm workers to collect and ship butterfly pupae around the world, while at the same time, respecting and protecting the forest around the farm. A pupa, it turns out, is the perfect package! Incredible photographs of the butterflies at all stages of life are included, as well as photographs of El Bosque Nuevo, the butterfly farm featured in this book.

Not only was this an amazing story, but the learning continues in the final pages of the book. More information is provided about insects and their life cycles and additional details on insect words are explained. There is a detailed glossary, suggestions for further reading and stunning end pages with more photographs of both various pupae and also adult butterflies. Of particular interest to children? A section on helpful hints if you do get to visit a live butterfly exhibit.

 Handle with Care Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (April 2014)

I adore reading Scientist in the Field titles in general but have a special affinity for titles by Montgomery and Bishop. Their relationship with each other, the connection they form with the scientist, the prose, the photographs – all lend themselves to such incredible and engaging stories. I purchased this title as soon as it was published. Cheetahs are so frequently “nominated” by children as a favourite animal. 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 the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This title is a wonderful blend of information about conservation efforts, facts about cheetahs, the story of the science behind the research and most delightful – an introduction to the various cheetah ambassadors who live at CCF in Nambia. The rescues, the orphaned babies, the rehabilitation, the releases back to the wild – such stories pull the reader strong and fast into the important work of the CCF.

Perfect for older readers, this title would also make a great read aloud for younger students who are learning about endangered animals and efforts being made to protect them. The final chapter of the book actually features the story of Marker’s visits to Rogate Primary School to speak to school children about the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how farmers and cheetahs can coexist in Nambia.

 Chasing Cheetahs Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (September 2014)

This book is like a piece of art. Layer upon layer of history, personal story, word joy and fascinating details – this is how a biography should arrive: all wrapped up to be peeled away piece by piece. Of course it is fitting that the man who imagined the thesaurus was enamoured by lists, language and the perfect word for each occasion. Enchanted by words and compelled to share, Roget dedicated his life to sharing knowledge and his passion for words.

This book is rich in supportive details beyond all of the creative collage elements shared by Sweet and the interesting text and lists by Bryant. I love the two page spread entitled: List of Principal Events. This is a timeline of important events in history happening at the same time as key events in Peter Mark Roget‘s life. What a wonderful way to show children that our personal histories are influenced and shaped by the world we live in. Author and illustrator notes are also full of additional reading pleasure!

The Right Word Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (September 2014)

I know how popular shark books are with children. I often buy books about sharks. I seldom read them. It’s fear factor avoidance. I freely admit that I think sharks are one of the most truly terrifying creatures. But this book captivated me. Its mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites who hunt in the Farallon Islands hunt so successfully, kept me reading and interested to the final pages. This book illustrates how sharks are perfectly adept hunters, at the top of the food chain. Katherine Roy shares specific information about body shape and function, the heat exchange system that gives the shark a warmer brain, its vision, its teeth and those projectile jaws. Against its prey, the shark clearly has many advantages. It is built to be an “absolute predator.”

The factual pages are embedded within a story of shark migration and hunting habits. I can see children studying the diagrams carefully in order to understand exactly why the shark is such a perfect killer. The paintings in this story don’t shy away from depicting the realities of the hunt: swirling waters, a stream of red, jaws full of teeth . . . Images that allow children to feel like they are getting a close up look at the hunt but not so gruesome to make anyone want to hide their eyes. Strangely, I think these paintings are superior to photographs in the sense that they pull the reader in rather than turn anyone away.

 Neigborhood Sharks Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (November 2014)

My childhood was all about snow. Living now on the milder West Coast, I often think about those long winter seasons of snow covered ground that seemed to be endless. Snow days here are all about a fleeting time. Snow balls, snow men and the swish of seldom worn snow pants racing up the toboggan hill before it all melts away. But what about the 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.

The poems are beautiful and convey details and images that simple text might not. Sidman’s words invite all of our senses into the visualization process. She writes of squishy damp leaf litter where springtails (snow fleas) live, of the ripped chips and thrashing twigs of the beaver’s lodge, and how the baby moose shrugs off the cold and sneezes at the wind. Lured by these images, the reader wants to know more. The descriptive paragraphs about each creature and detailed glossary provide lots of additional information. Allen’s prints layer colour and texture and suggest movement in their details. So appealing!

 Winter Bees Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

After checking out these titles I have featured and Alyson and Kellee’s choices, which book do you think should win the Sibert?

Enter our Rafflecopter (follow the link) to win a copy of one of our picks (your choice!) as well as to vote for which book you think will win.

Please share any additional comments in the comment sections on any of our blogs!

 

Wondering about butterflies: Nonfiction Picture book Wednesday

I am excited to once again highlight a recent title shared in my classroom and how we structured our read aloud experience. I am trying to share more of how these nonfiction books come alive in the classroom with kids!

The #nfpb2015 challenge is a great way to learn more about what nonfiction titles others are reading.

#nfpb2015

During the past week we have been reading Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (March 2014)

This title shares with the reader how a butterfly farm in Costa Rica prepares butterfly pupae for the journey to various museums and science centers in the north. It answers questions about how the farm functions, the connection to the rain forest habitat and how pupae are prepared for the long journey. Can you imagine getting a package of butterfly pupae in the mail?

My students wanted to begin making special orders immediately! 🙂

Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz are stunning and help tell a story that many students would never have imagined. I have some students that just wanted to gaze at the end pages with photographs detailing various pupae. Students really appreciated the close up photography. One child commented:

“Human eyes wouldn’t even be able to see that (eggs on a leaf). But the camera zoomed up close so we can all look carefully.”

There is a detailed glossary at the back of the book and we appreciated the helpful hints provided about visiting a live butterfly exhibit. Many students in my classroom have been to the Vancouver Aquarium on a field trip with our school and had the opportunity to visit an area with live butterflies fluttering about. So this book had particular meaning.

Wondering about butterflies: Nonfiction Picture book Wednesday There's a Book for That

Note: I am currently reading Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science , K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley I have been inspired by the way many lessons begin with a Wonder Statement and include writing, responding and drawing in a Wonder Journal. We already have a Wonder book that we write in regularly but I am trying to use it more often with our nonfiction read alouds.

 Perfect Pairs Wondering about butterflies: Nonfiction Picture book Wednesday There's a Book for That

Before I introduced Handle with Care, I asked the students to respond to this wonder statement:

“I wonder how butterflies get to Science Centers and museums all over the world.”

Students discussed this statement in Turn and Talk partners and then had an opportunity to share out. They then wrote about their thinking in their wonder notebooks.

Some samples:

“I think that some people found a butterfly in Brazil. They probably took them while they are in caterpillar form. They might catch them in a cage. Do they use a potion to lure them into the cage?”

“I think that they get special food to attract them or catch them as caterpillars and take them back. They would have to research butterflies to study the rare ones and the almost extinct ones. They would live in places that are hot and have nice rainforests.”

“I think they take a big truck and drive to California and catch the butterflies in a big cage and then drive to the airport and go on the plane with the caged butterflies with them and drop them off to the science centers. Maybe they get the science workers to do it. Perhaps they lure them into the cage with fruit and honey.”

“I think they catch the butterflies when they are eggs and grow them like that.”

When we learned on the first page that the pupae are sent in a mysterious package to the museums, students were hooked. They had all kinds of questions like:

  • How do they know they won’t transform into butterflies before they get there?
  • How do you touch the pupa without harming it?
  • Where do they get all of the pupae?
  • Are some of them damaged from the travel?
  • How much does it cost to order them?
  • How do they know about how to make a home for them when they arrive?

We continued reading throughout the day and by the afternoon, students were ready to summarize their learning about the important jobs of the butterfly farm workers in Costa Rica.

Some written summaries:

“Farm workers must help adult butterflies be healthy. The farm workers get trees for the butterflies. They crush bananas to feed them.”

“Farm workers have to look out for predators. In the green house, there is the butterfly larva, eating. Farm workers need to protect the greenhouse.”

“Farm workers must: fix holes in the screens so grasshoppers don’t eat food for the larva, go hunting for fresh leaves and trees, protect the larva and the butterflies from frogs, birds and snakes and put out sugar water everyday.”

“They have to keep all of those predators out of the greenhouse like grasshoppers, frogs, birds and snakes. They have to pick a herd of caterpillars off of an empty branch of leaves that they have eaten and move them to a different branch of leaves.”

So much learning in this book. Lots of discussion. Big questions and connections. I love that it allowed students to explore a question that they had never really considered. One of our bookshelves is now full of butterfly books and students are busy learning more about butterflies during independent reading.

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: My current TBR list, nonfiction style

It’s that time of year where we list our favourite books for the year, make reading plans for next year and celebrate another year of reading. At this time of year, I get worried that I might forget about some titles on my TBR list as I am browsing favourites lists and making my TBR list ever longer.

So, I went through my current nonfiction TBR list and made a long list into a shorter list. Highlighting these here lets me give them a little “I will get to you soon” pledge.

Here are nine nonfiction titles I can’t wait to read. Thank you to the wonderful readers in my network who have recommended them!

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

 Star STuff Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Animalium: Welcome to the Museum Curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

Animalium Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People who Track it  written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Beetle Busters Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Elizabeth Queen of the Seas written by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca

Elizabeth queen of the sea Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

If: A Mind Bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers written by David J. Smith illustrated by Steve Adams

if . . . Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing HoneyBees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

vanishing honeybees Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

 Winter Bees Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy 

neighborhood-sharks Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: My current TBR list, nonfiction style There's a Book for That

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons written by Sara Levine with illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth 

bone by bone Nonfiction TBR List There's a Book for That

 What’s on your nonfiction To Be Read List?

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 books you need to read!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 124/65 complete!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 3)

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

This is the final list (3 of 3) where I share thirty titles (ten at a time) of my favourite nonfiction books for older readers. The first ten are here and second ten are here.

Even though I teach primary students, I often come across fantastic nonfiction titles that older students (Grades 4-8) might enjoy. Hope some of these titles are ideal for a reader you know.

The final ten:

 Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Tracking Trash  Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns (published 2007)

Tracking Trash  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin (published 2012)

Island  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit up the World written by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (published 2013)

Electrical Wizard  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Birds of a Feather written by Francesco Pittau and illustrated by Bernadette Gervais  (published 2012)

birds of a feather Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins (published 2011)

Just a Second  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier (published 2010)

 Dave the Potter  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (published 2008)

 River of Words  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

The Journey: Stories of Migration written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lambert Davis (published 2006)

 The Journey  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry (published 2013)

 Tree Lady  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

Eruption: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives written by Elizabeth Rusch with photographs by Tom Uhlman (published 2013)

Eruption  Nonfiction Reading Ten titles for older readers There's a Book for That

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 books you need to read!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 104/65 complete!