Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.

This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.

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

Kids love cheetahs. 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 theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.

Dorothea's Eyes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.

How to Swallow a Pig Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that.

Tooth by Tooth Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.

What if you had Animal ears?Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People

Pink is for Blobfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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.  Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).

 Feathers Not Just for Flying Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.

Separate is Never Equal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!

I, Fly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

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. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

nfpb2016logo

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?

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!

 

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: 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)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I’m reading to my children

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

I have always read aloud to my children who are now eleven and in Grade 6 (boy/girl twins). Our reading history includes books of all kinds: board books, poetry, picture books, nonfiction, comics/graphics, and novels.

And now? My children are still happy to be my “test children” for new picture book titles. And we ALWAYS have a novel on the go. But do we read nonfiction together? We do. But much more avidly than we ever did! In the past, it was a title here and there. Now, that I am an active participant in this challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy, my nonfiction reading and awareness has been transformed. I am aware of so many fantastic titles and I have transferred my passion and commitment to nonfiction, to my read aloud time with my children. Usually, we have a longer title on the go that we will read over a week or two – just a little each night. Our evening reading often looks like a section of our nonfiction title and then a chapter or two (depending on the time and the begging) of our novel. Sometimes, we are so engrossed in the nonfiction title, we just read that.

My children and I have all benefitted from the talk that happens with our nonfiction reading. Sometimes one of us is not all that interested in the topic and it requires more talk time and initial research of the topic (watching a video, looking at other books, etc) Other times we are all incredibly curious right from the beginning. Always it is worth it for the connections we make, the questions we share and the learning that we do. How amazing is it to be learning alongside my own children every day!

I highly recommend adding more nonfiction to your read aloud diet!

Our last few nonfiction read alouds were Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully and Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop. I have featured all of these on my blog in recent weeks.

What’s up next for us?

Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen R. Swinburne (published 2014)

I find these Scientiest in the Field titles the perfect read alouds for this age group (10 – 13). My children and I are quite enamoured with sea turtles and I am particularly interested in sharing details of the conservation efforts to protect turtles.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I'm reading to my children

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

Another Scientist in the Field title. Children are fascinated by cheetahs and my children are no different. But, we have talked more and more about how many of Africa’s animals are at risk of extinction. This is an important read.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I'm reading to my children

The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, A Boy and Google Earth opened a New Window on Human Origins by Lee R. Berger and Marc Aronson. (published 2012)

I found this book in my school library and immediately signed it out to bring home and share with my children. A nine year old boy out fossil hunting with his Dad (Dr. Lee Berger) finds a piece of bone likely two million years old. This book looks just fascinating! My learning curve will be big. My husband, who loves all things fossils, wants to sit in when we do this read aloud.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I'm reading to my children

Shimmer and Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky (published 2013)

Gorgeous paintings by Arnosky and the stories of his experience and knowledge of each of the creatures featured here. We have been reading many nonfiction titles about the ocean so have lots of interest in various sea life.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I'm reading to my children

Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals by Michael Hearst and illustrated by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright, and Jelmer Noordeman (published 2012)

I found this in one of my favourite book shops on a weekend walk. It has what looks like a tiny nibble out of one corner (my theory is that one of these creatures featured in this book is secretly alive and comes out at night and dines on the book it now lives within) so it was in the half price bin. Giant Gippsland Earthworms up to 10 feet long. A Mimic Octopus that wasn’t discovered until 1998 (too busy hiding by being able to mimic other creatures!). Leafy Sea Dragons that look like floating seaweed. Really, how could I resist this book? Can’t wait to share and hear the chorus of “Cool!” and “Gross!” that my children are sure to repeat on each page!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction I'm reading to my children

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 63/65 complete!