Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fourteen favourites of 2014 (Part 2)

I am thrilled to share my favourite fourteen nonfiction titles of 2014!

2014 Nonfiction Picture Books

I love books. As in absolutely adore, frequently gush over, make piles, make lists, always reading kind of #booklove devotion. If you had asked me to talk favourites a few years ago, a nonfiction title would have made it on the list here and there. I have always appreciated the power of the nonfiction read aloud but . . . it wasn’t until I began participating in the nonfiction picture book challenges organized by Alyson Beecher (from Kid Lit Frenzy) that I have become absolutely smitten with nonfiction titles.

I have been busily tweeting about this as of late . . .

I am thrilled to renew my commitment to nonfiction reading by participating in the #nfpb2015 challenge! The more nonfiction I read, the more I learn and the more my students ultimately benefit.

#nfpb2015

More about my favourites of 2014. If these titles are not on your already read and loved or must read radar, consider adding them to the list!

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

ivan

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Right Word

Gravity by Jason Chin

gravity_chin

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton

tiny-creatures

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

weeds-find-a-way

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

shackletons-journey

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

eye-to-eye

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

creature-features-coversmall

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents by Lita Judge

Born in the Wild

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

boyandajaguarcover

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

neighborhood-sharks

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

winter bees

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

star stuff

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

feathers

I have included picture books here but must also note that Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop was an absolute favourite of the year.

cheetahs

I am also pleased to report that I more than met my goal of reading 65 nonfiction picture books this year. Grand total: 144 titles! 🙂

What are your favourites of the year?

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fourteen favourites (Part 1)

As 2014 comes to a close, avid book lovers and book bloggers start amassing favourites. As I looked over the close to 150 nonfiction picture book titles I have read this year, I realized that there are many to highlight. So, I have decided to do two top fourteen lists (in honour of 2014). This one contains my favourite titles read in 2014 but with a publication date of 2013 or earlier. Next week I will share my favourite fourteen titles published in 2014.

Favourite Nonfiction of 2014

Shared alphabetically by author:

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret (published 2008)

A gorgeous introduction to Cousteau and his passion for the underwater world. I shared my students’ responses to this title here.

manfish

Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (published 2013)

Written in conversational, humorous style, this title encourages us to pay a little more attention to the natural world in general and to the beauty of birds in particular.

look up!

Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb (published 2011)

An inspiring story about Dorothy Thomas, an absolute book hero. True testament to how books change lives and connect community.

miss dorothy

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White (published in 2011)

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.

can we Save the Tiger?

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (published 2013)

Lita Judge’s illustrations are so rich. They inform. They amuse. And they delight. Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur.

dinosaurs

One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley (published 2009)

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

one-world

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.

snow-leopard

Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff; illustrated by Gijisbert van Frankenhuyzen (published 2013)

Jasper is a bear that was rescued by Jill Robinson (the author) and her Animals Asia team and brought to a sanctuary in China. Jill describes Jasper as courageous and loving; a symbol of forgiveness and hope.

jaspersstory

Volcano Rising written by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Susan Swan (published 2013)

One of the very best, if not the best nonfiction picture book I have read on volcanoes. Two layers of text (one section with more details for those who want to read more information) and incredible illustrations.

Volcano Rising 2

Songs of the Water Boatman written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange (published 2005)

Come to the pond and experience it like you have never imagined through vivid images, fascinating facts and gorgeous illustrations.

Songs of the Waterboatman

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange (published 2010)

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive?

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors

Under the Snow written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R Bergum (published 2009)

Informative and beautifully illustrated. Feel like you are peeking into winter hiding places of animals and creatures that seemed to disappear.

Under the Snow

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (published 2013)

This title inspired some amazing discussion in my classroom. An important biography about determination, changing general opinion and beliefs and following a dream.

WomenDoctors_cvr_lorez

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Meda

So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops.

parrots

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: 142/65 complete!

Next week I will share my top nonfiction titles for 2014. 14 of them 🙂

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction “on the go” in our room

There are many ways you might know that nonfiction titles are important and well utilized in our classroom.

First of all, there are the visual clues. Some are organized by me – like our new book shelf full of titles on display that I have recently read or book talked. We add books here frequently and then switch them out and make room for more. Some live here for a while because they are very popular and students want to be able to find them easily. Some live here for just a little while – they are added when a reference comes up in a discussion for those students who want to read more. Centipedes came out when I read about a centipede in a silly poem and we talked about how many legs a centipede actually has and whether or not it was an insect. We talked about the word gnaw in word work and someone talked about how beavers and rats gnaw on things. I put a book about beavers on display. Fantastic Feet was a book by Melissa Stewart that I bought for the classroom recently. Lots of kids read it and started talking about animal feet and then animal tracks. We added books on these topics.

You can see how this shelf is well used!

We have a shelf like this for fiction titles too. 🙂

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

We also display book titles we have read with key words used so we can refer to them later. I keep a list of words on a sticky note on the inside cover as we read. These are great for those few minutes of waiting for announcements or when lining people up. For example,

“Think back to the book Salmon Creek, who remembers what an estuary is. Tell the person beside you and then we’ll take answers.”

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

Some proof of our nonfiction love is highlighted by the students who find connections in the titles they are reading and want to share. This child thought that the African landscape in the book Giraffes was similar to the dry land in San Diego when Kate Sessions (from the book The Tree Lady) arrived in this seaside town and was shocked by the lack of trees.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

These boys were very excited to find blue footed boobies in two different nonfiction titles.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

But you would also know that we are a class who loves nonfiction titles because we have so many nonfiction read alouds “on the go”. Walk into our room throughout the day and you might find us engaged with a nonfiction text. Currently we are reading pages from . . .

Math Appeal: Mind Stretching Riddles by Greg Tang Illustrated by Harry Briggs

My students love to try and solve a few of these riddles right after recess as we are waiting for students to get to the carpet. It’s great motivation to be on time!

If you aren’t familiar with Tang’s books, check out a sample page on his website.

Math Appeal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

Another math title we have on the go is Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

I read a page at a time and we try and come up with all of the questions we would need to ask to figure out how the statement was made. Lots of gathering of information via question asking. For example, we just learned that a kangaroo has 50 joeys in her lifetime. We came up with these questions:

  • How many joeys does she have at one time? Single birth? Twins? More?
  • How long do kangaroos live?
  • How old is a kangaroo when she can have babies?
  • How many babies does one kangaroo have in a year?

The detailed information in the back of the book gives us all of the answers and then we figure out the math!

Lifetime Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

Time to Sleep by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

We read this book every Thursday between Word Work and Reading Workshop. I read about the animal featured on the page and then ask the children to predict or infer to answer questions about the creature we are talking about. There is additional information about each animal in the back of the text. For example, we just read about how the flamingo stands on one leg to conserve energy. After we talked about how this is vastly different from the way we sleep, I then asked the children what they think flamingoes eat, where in the world we might find them and how tall they think they are. After they discussed their ideas with their turn and talk partners, I read the information in the back of the book. Listening for specific information is practiced as I share additional details.

time to sleep Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

This is our current nonfiction read aloud that we are reading in depth. We are talking lots, learning lots of new vocabulary and writing some quick summaries of our learning. Our favourite thing? Getting out our rulers and figuring out the actual size of each creature depicted on the page! In the back there is information about the size of each animal talked about. We love predicting and comparing.

“Who thinks a garden snail is smaller than 10 cm or larger than 10 cm? Get ready to mark its length on your ruler . . . Here is its length: ______”

 Eye to Eye Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction "on the go" in our room There's a Book for That

Nonfiction read alouds are never rushed in our classroom. They are springboards for further learning and discussion. When a book is finished, it has become part of our shared knowledge and who we are as learners.

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: 132/65 complete! More than double my original goal!

 

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: Student Voices

Mingan: My village Poems by Innu Schoolchildren by Rogé

With participation of Joséphine Bacon, Rita Mestokosho and Laure Morali.

 Mingan My village Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Student Voice There's a Book for That

I have the feeling I could write nothing about this title and that just from the cover image, you will seek it out.

Anybody nodding?

And really, you should. Seek. Read. Share it with students. It is beautiful on every level.

After spending a few days with children in Mingan, an Innu village in northeastern Quebec, Rogé painted portraits of the children he photographed. Through writer’s workshops, the children wrote the poetry that is shared in this book. The writing could speak of so many things in these children’s experiences. These poems depict a rich connection to nature, an honouring of the natural world and an awe of the beauty that surrounds us.

Some poems are written by one author. Others are collaborations. I love much of the imagery. Here is a portion of a favourite piece:

It snows on the planets

When we walk on the sky

And these words just stopped me.

When the ravens become white

I will stop loving you

More than forty percent of the students who attend my school are Aboriginal. I have just ordered my own copy of this title so it can be a part of our classroom library. Student voice. Student expression. The magic of poetry. I want all of these things to be inspiration to my students. I want them to find their power to observe, to share and to connect through the words of these children on the other side of our country.

When I ordered this title, I also ordered another title by Rogé that has been getting a lot of recent attention for its gorgeous illustrations:

Haiti My country: Poems by Haitian Schoolchildren

Haiti My Country  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Student Voice There's a Book for That

Are these titles nonfiction? Yes and no. I think they can be stretched between genres. That these poems capture so much truth, that they inspire the reader to think about a place and a specific time and seek out maps and more information, this is my reason to nudge these titles, for today, into the nonfiction world.

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: 121/65 complete!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The Open Ocean

To celebrate Picture Book Month I am continuing to share conversations I have about particular picture books. This isn’t so much a conversation as an ooh and ahh fest I had with my own two children while exploring this nonfiction title.

The Open Ocean by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais is an oversized title that invites the reader to guess, read more, lift flaps and absorb amazing information. This title kept my two 12 year olds completely interested and engaged as we interacted with this gorgeous book. Our favourite 2 page spread was the section that showed closeups of shells, scales and other textures on various sealife. We didn’t guess any correctly! So much to interact with in this title.

 The Open Ocean Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Our favourite facts?

  • The compass jellyfish changes gender over its lifetime (“That’s just too strange,” remarked my son.)
  • The blue whale is one of longest living creatures.
  • The sea urchin is named after a hedgehog.
  • An octopus is super smart! It can open jars.(“But what are those scientists doing having it be in a lab to do experiments on? Terrible! Unless it is just tests? Do they release them after?” – this from my daughter.)
  • A sunfish can weigh over 500 pounds!
  • The swordfish is one of the fastest fish.
  • No one really knows how long lobsters live. They can live to be over 100 and they always seem to die for other reasons before perishing from old age.

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: 120/65 complete!

Talking spiders

To celebrate Picture Book Month I am continuing to share conversations I have with students about picture books. Sometimes, I learn a lot.

pb month logo

Today I had a visit at recess from a Grade 1 student all dressed up for photo day.

Talking spiders There's a Book for That

He checked out some Lego and told me about his outfit.

Talking spiders There's a Book for That

Then he wandered over to where I was putting away some nonfiction titles. And we started to talk about the books

Me: “What do you notice about all of these books?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “They’re all insects and stuff. They’re good because they help you breathe and make stuff. Like honey.”

Me: “Which of these books looks the most interesting?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “Hmmm. Spiders. I like them. They have 8 legs and well, they’re creepy. I like creepy stuff.”

Me: “What do you think you might find out in this book?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “Well you’ll be knowing about spiders. How they spin. Can they help you out in a haunted house?”

Me: “Interesting. What are you noticing when you look through the book?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “Well they have one eye in this picture. And 8 legs (counts to confirm) No, 11. Hold on (counts again) Maybe 10. Some of these might not be legs?”

Talking spiders There's a Book for That

Me: “Do you notice anything else?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “Well this orange part here is a big round circle. Kind of like a bum that we have. But we have two big circles.”

Indeed! 🙂

Me: “So do you think you might like to read these books when you are in my classroom?”

Mr. Dressed Up: “Yep.”

Judging from the popularity of the Creepy Creatures series with my current Grade 3/4 students, I think he will!

Spiders by Valerie Bodden (published 2011) has information about a spider’s life, how webs are made and the parts of a spider’s body. Close up photographs are intriguing. There is a glossary in the back and new vocabulary is bolded throughout the book. My primary/early intermediate students can easily manage this series with independence.

Spiders Talking spiders 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

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 119/65 complete!