Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1)

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

In July, I published a series of posts about using more nonfiction titles in the classroom. I included numerous recommendations of book titles geared to the primary/early intermediate classroom.  In case you missed them, here are the links:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

3A: Generating excitement, making choices and having time to read

3 B: Reading and working with the texts 

Through twitter and from a few comments, I heard from some teachers that their middle school students (Grades 5-8) have lost their passion for nonfiction reading. Linda Baie from Teacher Dance addressed this here with some great book suggestions. At first, I thought that this was not something that I could talk about since my students are younger and I don’t have first hand experience working with these older readers. But the more I thought about it, I realized that my own children (boy/girl twins) are eleven and we share a lot of nonfiction together. And I started another list . . .

For the next few weeks, I will share thirty of my favourite nonfiction books for older readers – ten at a time. If you are an intermediate teacher, I hope you have students eager to read nonfiction! If not, maybe some of these titles can persuade them to spend some time with this genre.

The first ten:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – and Most Surprising – Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins (published 2013)

 The Animal Book Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by  Brian Selznick (published 2001)

 The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sis (published 2003)

 The Tree of Life Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

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

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

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

 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong (first published in 2002, second edition 2011)

 If the World were a Village Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (published 2013)

 Brave Girl Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill (published 2014)

Shackleton's Journey Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

Zombie Makers True Stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca L. Johnson (published 2012)

Zombie Makers  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle (published 2011)

 The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some favourite nonfiction titles for older readers (List 1) 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!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 99/65 complete!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium (1)

The Wonder of Women: Ten nonfiction picture book biographies

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Nonfiction 10 for 10 event is back for year two! I welcome any opportunity to celebrate fantastic nonfiction picture books. 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

On Wednesdays, Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy also hosts the #nfpb2014 event where bloggers can link up to share nonfiction picture book titles. As always, thanks to Alyson for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Go here for this link up.

NFPB 2014

Last year for #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways.

This year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women. I have read numerous biographies to my class this year – including some of the titles below. I am very conscious of making sure my students are exposed to both inspiring women and men. These stories spark so much wonder, discussion and learning.

In honour of wonderful women . . .

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

The brilliant Patrick McDonnell won a Caldecott Honor for this title for very good reason. It is an absolute detailed dream of the little girl who grew up to be the inspiring Jane Goodall. Little Jane drags her stuffed monkey Jubilee through the woods, around the farm and all about the great outdoors. We see sketches from Jane’s own nature journals. We learn about her lifetime passion for animals. We hear about her dreams to go to Africa. And then it is so . . . Jane’s dreams really did come true.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

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

A wonderful read aloud to share with upper primary (and older) students about finding your passion and making it your life’s work. I love this book for many reasons. The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.” In this story, this message applies to ecology and caring for our natural world but it is a message that applies to so many things. One worth thinking a lot about.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

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

I love the style of this book – the visual style and the appealing narration. It makes the story both interesting and accessible for young readers. And what a story! An important biography about determination, changing general opinion and beliefs and following a dream. While I want all of my students to hear this story (I have purchased my own copy for my picture book biography collection), there are some children that I specifically have in mind who will rejoice in the messages of this book.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A fabulous story made even more spectacular by Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. This book tells the story of Clara Lemlich who was instrumental in the labour movement in the garment industry in the early 1900s. Introduces children to themes of work place safety, worker’s rights and individual strength and resolve.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

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

I will admit that I bought this book because I was captured by its gorgeous cover and I knew it was about an inspirational woman who transformed an entire city. Love it for its passionate celebration of nature. For its gorgeous illustrations. Or for its important historical journey back in time beginning in the 1860s with a little girl named Katherine Olivia Sessions. A little girl who brought lush, green life to the city of San Diego. A woman who studied science when other women and girls did not. A woman who took what she had learned it and applied it in the most important of ways and brought a city to life. And oh, that cover . . .

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Not only a glimpse into the life of Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills but a story of courage, commitment and the power to make change.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

 Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore created Libraries for Children written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell

Well. . . Anne Carroll Moore now has superhero status as far as I am concerned. Loved this story of how one woman acted as a champion for children’s access to books, libraries and beautiful spaces. Moore opened the first children’s room in the New York Public Library. She made that this was truly a place for children full of art, natural collections, story tellers and most importantly books and children to read and celebrate them.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

 Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

Such an inspiring story about Dorothy Thomas, an absolute book hero. Dorothy’s dreams of a fine brick building where she could be librarian never materialized. But her role in bringing books to a community was huge. True testament to how books change lives and connect community.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

How could a 62 year old woman plan and execute a stunt such as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Here is the story of Annie Edson Taylor, determined to make her fortune by being the first person to go over the falls.  A compelling and sad story. This blurs nonfiction and fiction as it is told by master story teller VanAllsburg but I feel it has enough connection to Taylor and the events surrounding this stunt to make it fit the nonfiction category.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller  written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares

What an incredibly inspirational book about Helen Keller and her brilliant teacher Annie Sullivan. This book has quotations by Keller on every page. Beautifully, beautifully illustrated. What an amazing relationship between teacher and student. What a tribute to the power of education. So much to this book.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Thanks again to Cathy, Julie and Mandy for the inspiration and hosting this event!

Happy reading and sharing everyone! Hurray for nonfiction picture books!

Monday January 13th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

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 novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

First week back and my students were as excited as I was to be back together and share lots of reading time together. I shared highlights of our first week back in this post on our classroom blog. It’s worth a peek to read a poem two of my girls wrote called Girl Drama.

I found lots of picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) to treasure this week. Here are my favourites:

The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud

This book was first published in France and wasn’t available in the North American market until 2013. I love lots of things about this book – the gorgeous colours on the cover, the fact that it is big and tall and that inside, each page is a visual delight. If one wanted to skip the story and just flip through the pages, it’s possible just to get lost in the details on each page searching for Little Bear as Papa Bear chases him into the city. But the story is simple and sweet – Little Bear has been lured by a bee and is rewarded after grand adventures with a sweet treat and snuggles from his Papa.

Here is a link to this book featured on the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A fabulous story made even more spectacular by Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. This book tells the story of Clara Lemlich who was instrumental in the labour movement in the garment industry in the early 1900s. Introduces children to themes of work place safety, worker’s rights and individual strength and resolve. An inspirational story, this title is another book I would love to own for my picture book biography collection.

Brave girl #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell

All about little siblings, mischief, and candy sneaking (in this case gum). Imagine chewing gum and little ones and you might be able to predict some of the “uh oh” happenings of this story. Lots of amusement and kid (in this case piglet) antics.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Maude The Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton written by Lauren Child and illustrated by Trisha Krauss

I was surprised to find that this book was only written by Lauren Child, not illustrated by her as well. I think I might have preferred her signature style with this story. Still, this is an interesting exploration of a quieter daughter in a flamboyant, expressive family. Turns out her ability to just blend in and not stand out becomes a definite asset.

Maude #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mole Had Everything by Jamison Odone

The message with this book is clear – having too much stuff just takes too much time and takes away from living life. Who wants that? Must admit I had a happy little smile when Mole prioritized and included in his “just enough” things one bookshelf for books. Because there is always room for books!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Henry’s Map by David Elliot

This book is absolutely adorable. It went right into my book bag for school as soon as I finished reading it as I must experience this as a read aloud! Henry the pig draws a map of the farm yard, carefully locating each structure and each animal. But when the animals all gather around Henry to admire his work and then look out to the farm, all of the animals detailed on the map seem to be missing! They all race back to the farm to investigate. Silly and clever, a wonderful book to inspire mapping your community.

Henry's Map #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt

I book talked this title early in the week and have watched it make its rounds around the classroom. My students have loved sharing this during buddy reading and marvelling at the various interesting animal feet that different animals use to walk, climb, dig, paddle, etc.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This is our House by Hyewon Yum

A house holds so many memories when multiple generations are raised beneath its roof. Tells many stories – immigration, raising children, different stages of life, sharing a home across generations. Would love to share this story with my students and see what kinds of conversations are sparked – either of living with grandparents or of missing them because they don’t live here in Canada.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished three novels (all of them YA), the first two from my #MustReadin2014 list

Legend by Marie Lu

In the last few months I have been reading many dystopian trilogies and kept seeing this title (and the next two in the trilogy) by Marie Lu receiving high praise on various #IMWAYR posts. After reading this first book, I can understand the enthusiastic reviews. Full of drama, action, intrigue and compelling characters, I was hooked within pages.

Legend #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

Wow. What a story concept. There are themes that one might encounter in many YA novels – friendship, romantic relationships, searching for a way out of a town and a way into a better future. But this book is also rich with strong characters, upsetting secrets and the trauma of grief. Highly recommended.

Boy 21 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller 

This was one of those books I found myself finishing in one long late afternoon into evening reading sessions. Another title that had come highly recommended via the #IMWAYR community. Callie was kidnapped by her mother at age five, has never been to school except for a brief stint in Kindergarten and has never had security or routines. Suddenly at seventeen, she is swept back into a full and busy Greek family who has missed her desperately and wants to make a place for her. But never having had friends, anyone to be accountable to or the belief in herself that she matters, Callie’s learning/adjustment curve is steep. Very engaging YA drama.

where the stars still shine #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I’ve started Prodigy by Marie Lu and then plan to read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick and The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour Lots of reading – yes! But nothing is a better cure for a miserable, rainy January than great books!

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 4/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 27/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 3/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 6/65 complete

Happy Reading everyone!