20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015

I so often agonize over this list, my favourite nonfiction titles of the year. Which titles should go on my favourites list? I have a very special spot for nonfiction picture books and LOVE being part of this Wednesday community hosted by Alyson Beecher.

I literally ran out to the library to pick up holds in the middle of writing this post to squeeze in a few more nonfiction reads. Then, I tried reading and blogging at the same time. I have mastered reading and folding laundry (although the sock matching often goes south) but reading while typing is a tad too challenging. So I took some breaks, read a few more books and made a few changes. Finally, 20 favourites emerged.

2015 Nonfiction Picture Books 20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

I always have a love of picture book biographies I might share in my classroom. So these featured big on this list.

In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kugler

In Mary's Garden  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Sky Painter written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici

The Sky Painter  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for ThatWhich Trombone Shorty written by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Trombone Shorty  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Finding Winnie  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Drum Dream Girl  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

Tricky Vic- The Impossilby True Story of the Man who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

swan the life and dance of anna pavlova  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

After experiencing water shortages this year on the rainy south coast, water is also on my mind. I found relevant and wonderful 2015 titles.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Raindrops Roll  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

Water is Water 20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

And then there are always certain nonfiction topics I am obsessed with: nests and eggs, whales, plants and seeds, endangered animals, Australian animals and rocks. I found titles that covered most of these things from 2015’s offerings.

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

The Blue Whale  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor

Trapped! A Whale's Rescue  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

Nest  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

big red kangaroo  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Emu written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

Emu

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild is written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton. Virginia McKenna (from the Born Free Foundation)

Counting Lions:  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

A Rock Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas with illustrations by Violeta Dabija

A Rock Can Be  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Others that stood out are of course by favourite nonfiction writers Nicola Davies and Steve Jenkins

I (Don’t) Like Snakes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano

I Don't Like SnakesHow to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

How to Swallow a Pig  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

Books published by Flying Eye books are often hugely beautiful and extremely interesting. This one about monkeys completely charmed me.

Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davey

Mad about Monkeys  20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015 There's a Book for That

What are your favourites of 2015?

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I’ve been reading . . .

Oh how I love nonfiction picture books and I have been reading some amazing titles. Somehow though, Tuesdays have been tricky days and my #nfpb2015 posts have been few and far between this fall/winter. Hello holidays and time to fill a post full to bursting with some recent favourites. I highly recommend each of these!

A Chicken Followed Me Home! Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page (May 2015)

The perfect book for a classroom raising chickens. Ideal for studying life cycles. Perfectly set up to tackle children’s curiosity and questions about chickens.

A Chicken Followed Me Home Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

I Don’t Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano (September 2015)

Numerous snake facts interspersed with the story of a little girl who wants you to know that she REALLY does not like snakes. Snakes are slithery, slimy, with eyes that hold you in a stare. Or is there more to these creatures? I was completely charmed by the retro feel of these illustrations.

I Don't Like Snakes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad (August 2015)

This book is simply stunning. I purchased it for my dancing nieces and recommend it for anyone who wants to be inspired. For little dancers to be. For those with big hearts who know what it is to share.

 

swan the life and dance of anna pavlova Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

Friend or Foe: The Whole Truth About Animals People Love to Hate written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by David Anderson (September 2015)

This book has a very interesting format. First, delve into all of the reasons to fear and possibly loathe these creatures. Then, turn the page and discover a myriad of interesting facts about them. In the end, have your feelings changed? Would be a great mentor text for a research project for intermediate students.

Friend or Foe: The Whole Truth About Animals People Love to Hate Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre (January 2015)

Oh, this book. I have had it on my radar all year and yesterday, I picked it up at the bookstore and it came home with me. The images – both text and photographs are powerful and I love all of the facts in the “Splash of Science” pages at the end. This title will become part of my collection for our unit on water which we will begin mid January. I also love the idea of April Pulley Sayre out searching for photographs in various downpours. I am a Vancouver resident. Rain is as natural as breathing. I love seeing it celebrated here.

Raindrops Roll Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (May 2015)

This is nonfictionish so I am including it here. Based on the true story of Julie Butterfly Hill who lived for two years in a redwood tree (named Luna) to protest the cutting of great California redwoods. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations depicting such a beautiful connection to a tree.

Luna & Me Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been reading . . .

Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davey (August 2015)

Masquerading as a gorgeous coffee table art book, this title by Davey is full of information about monkeys. I discovered many things I did not know about various species. Gifting this title to my nephews.

Mad about Monkeys Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and I've been 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!

#nfpb2015

Nonfiction on my radar: Winter 2015

Just 6 weeks left to complete my nonfiction picture book reading for 2015. There are some nonfiction titles on my radar that I can’t wait to read. Like, right now!

Here are ten titles on my nonfiction dreaming list . . .

Trombone Shorty written by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Trombone Shorty

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Finding Winnie

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Drum Girl Dreaming

Toad Weather written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Toad Weather

How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

How to Swallow a Pig

A Chicken Followed Me Home! Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page

A Chicken Followed Me Home

The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney and Plan International

The Way to School

Flowers are Calling written by Rita Gray and illustrations by Kenard Pak

Flowers are Calling

I (Don’t) Like Snakes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano

I (Don't) Like Snakes

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea written by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by Gennady Spirin

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea

Thankfully, some of these are coming in as holds at my public library. I may have ordered a few based on amazing reviews and some are new additions to our school library. I hope to be reviewing many of these titles soon!

What titles are you still hoping to read before 2016 arrives?

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

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Counting Lions

Shouldn’t book lovers know most of all to not fall in love with a book because of its cover? Or are we the most easily tempted? I am not so sure. This book, I will admit, had me from the cover. Holding the book in my hands? Absolutely, I was done in. Oversized and gorgeous. Charcoal drawings that look as realistic as photographs. Vibrant orange end papers. This book is simply beautiful.

Counting Lions Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Counting Lions

Beautiful, yes. But even more, so important. Walk into a world of nature, of animals. Marvel at their beauty. Wonder about their unique habitats. Look, so very close up, at their behaviours and interactions. And then, think about counting them. Think about that not in the context of how many are on the page. But think about that with this question in mind, “What if we were counting the final ones?”

In the powerful forward by Virginia McKenna, she writes,

“In Counting Lions, children will start at number one and end at number ten. If it were true that there were, in reality, only five elephants or four tigers, then the world would know that the end of those species is in sight.”

This book is not meant to create fear, it is more about inspiring wonder. But a piece of that wonder needs to be about how we protect each of these species on our planet from all of the things that threaten their populations.

Each page is a gorgeous two page spread that consists of drawings (all in dark charcoal) and poetic text (all in bright orange). Each page begins and ends with the repeated number of each individual animal shared on the page. One to ten. One Lion. Two gorillas. Three giraffes. Four tigers. Five elephants. Six Ethiopian wolves. Seven penguins. Eight turtles. Nine macaws.Ten zebras.

At the end of the book more information is provided about each animal including its protection status. For the animals included in this book four are Endangered (gorillas, tigers, Ethiopian wolves, loggerhead turtles), two are Vulnerable (lions, elephants), one is Near Threatened (emperor penguins) and three are Least Concern (zebras, macaws, giraffes). We learn what specifically threatens each species and what if any conservation efforts are currently in practice. There is also different status for different animals. For example, the Plains zebras featured in this book are not Endangered but Grevy’s zebras in Kenya and Ethiopia have Endangered status.

Final pages also include more information about the contributors (author, artist and writer of the forward). Links to relevant websites to learn more are also provided.

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild is written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton. Virginia McKenna (from the Born Free Foundation) writes the forward. Published in October 2015 by Candlewick Press.

Margie Myers-Culver from the blog Librarian’s Quest wrote a beautiful post about this book last week.

This book will be a stunning starting point to further reading and investigation about Endangered animals. In May, I put together a list: Endangered Animals: Building a Read Aloud collection. Start here for a variety of nonfiction picture books that can be shared in the Elementary classroom or with your own children.

 

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

Nature is pretty amazing no matter what the season. I will admit to be particularly impressed in the fall. I love that evidence of the changing seasons literally falls at our feet. The leaves, the nuts, the seed pods. I love the colours of the leaves, of the last flashes of fall flowers and of the stormy skies. And I especially love bringing all of this into my classroom. I bundle up herbs and flowers and stalks for us to draw. We have a fallen wasp’s nest under glass. There are collections of leaves, chestnuts and acorns in various piles and baskets around the room.

Nature soothes. It calms. It is quiet. This energy is particularly appreciated in my room.

In this post, I wanted to share a few books we have been looking at for more inspiration. Sometimes just a page or a section and other times the whole book. Some of these books are not necessarily children’s books and some are not nonfiction. But there is a general theme so, please indulge me. Happy fall! Happy nature.

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman with help from John Niedkrasz (2015)

I fell a little in love with this book when I met it. I plan to use it to inspire flower painting, to highlight the power and the simplicity of a labelled diagram and to go leaf exploring. And about a million more things. Perfect for a classroom, for an artist’s studio, for homes with little and big learners.

More than a picture book – this is a handbook, an amazing collection of nature details.

Nature Anatomy Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered by Nikki McClure (2007)

Paper cut images strong and striking with an accompanying word to take us through the seasons. I love particular images especially. One egg on a woven nest with the word RESUME. A blue bird in the jaws of a black cat: WITNESS. Little hands peeking out around a tree branch: DISAPPEAR. What a book to get us talking about the images of nature, the emotions, the associations, the memories.

Collect Raindrops Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

What in the World?: Numbers in Nature written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (2015)

Perfect to inspire looking closely at the world and finding numbers everywhere we look.

 What in the World Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes (2015)

Yes, this is a fiction title. But I can’t wait to have my students recreate a little gardener space and while these illustrations will us to get lost in their deep colours and details, they also lead us to seed and garden books to learn more.

The Little Gardener Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

A Garden of Oridinary Miracles: An Alphabet Book by Robert R. Zakanitch (2012)

We have been using pages of this book to inspire flower collages out of various materials – math blocks, stones, beads, glass. Just gorgeous.

A Garden of Ordinary Miracles Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nature, oh wow.

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

I have a brand new class: a busy group of seven and eight year olds. Many of them are not used to the nonfiction read aloud. But, they love to be read to and they are fascinated when I share facts with them about the world. Nonfiction books are stories of their world and I know they will be hooked. I wandered through my collection yesterday and pulled some titles to start reading aloud.

I needed titles that are not too long. They have to have engaging photos or illustrations. Ideally, there will be some humour or an interactive element (guessing and checking). The language needs to fit and if it can be lyrical and lovely, all the better. Or punchy and action packed!

Here are the ten titles I selected as beginning nonfiction read alouds:

Nest by Jorey Hurley

A series of words and beautiful images to explore birds and their nests.

nest Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

A Bird Is a Bird by Lizzy Rockwell

What makes a bird a bird exactly? A title to explore all the qualities of a bird.

A Bird Is a Bird Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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

A fun interactive style. What kind of animal would you be if . . . ?

bone by bone Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg by Mia Posada

Clues and images lead us to the next page where we find the answer. Perfect to read a few pages at a time.

guess what is growing inside this egg Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

Humour, spiders and some splatting. Learning as you laugh! Perfect.

Trying to Love Spiders Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

Eat Like a Bear written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Follow a bear over seasons – how and what does a bear eat?

Eat Like A Bear Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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

Lyrical and visually stunning. Appreciate weeds for their beauty and persistence.

weeds-find-a-way Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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.

leaf can be Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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

Marvel at the various interesting animal feet that different animals use to walk, climb, dig, paddle, etc. There is a guessing from a photograph aspect to this book.

 Best Foot Forward Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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

The format is engaging – each animal is introduced with a mini letter/question and answer.

creature-features-Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some beginning read alouds

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

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?