I’m excited to participate in my second Nonfiction 10 for 10 event celebrating fantastic nonfiction picture books. Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this.
Last year, I organized my Nonfiction 10 for 10 book list around Reading Power strategies. You can read my post here. This year, I have been particularly interested in Nonfiction books that help children to understand big concepts. These books often create a WOW, while at the same time, help readers to “get their heads around” challenging ideas such as size, numbers and time. So my Nonfiction 10-for-10 list this year focuses on my top ten Nonfiction Concept books.
1. As An Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas
Concept: Change over time
This inventive book tracks 200 years of the life of an oak tree from 1775 – present day. Each page shows a different year, displayed on a time line at the bottom of the page, while detailed illustrations show how the landscape, animals and people around the tree changes over time. Intriguing and transforming!
2. If – A Mind Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers – David J. Smith
Concept: big Ideas; big number; scale; measurement
This amazing book helps children (and adults!) understand the concept of scale. David Smith takes hard-to-imagine ideas and compares them to everyday things that we can see and are familiar with. “If the solar system was laid out on a football field and the sun was a grapefruit”. Other concepts Smith looks at are the size of the universe, ocean, and continents, history of the world, economics and food. This book is an excellent reference with many links to science and social studies, as well as a great one for visualizing.
3. If the World Were a Village- David J. Smith
Concept: Global Awareness
An eye-opening look at the world. David Smith helps readers understand the concept of our “global village” by condensing the world’s population of 6.8 billion to a village of 100 people. I’m not mathematically inclined but even I can understand concepts in relation to 100! World facts such as nationalities, languages, ages, and religions all put in perspective in this fascinating book.
4. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth – Rochelle Strauss
Concept: Water – water cycle, use, access, conservation
A beautifully illustrated book that highlights the importance of earth’s water and how it is essential to our survival, as well as the survival of all living things including plants and animals. It includes information on water usage, pollution, conservation, and awareness.
5. Just a Second – Steve Jenkins
What is time? How do we measure it? This brilliant book by my favorite nonfiction author explores the concept of time and how to think about it in different ways. He uses events in the natural world to explain what can happen in a second, a minute, an hour. Classic Jenkins – engaging and thought-provoking.
6. Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring Earth to Life – Molly Bang
Photosynthesis is a daunting concept to understand and to teach. This book makes the process both understandable and magical. Through a blend of poetry, science and beautiful visuals, we learn the importance of sun in our lives. Beautiful and brilliant.
7 No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart
Concept: Interconnectedness in our Ecosystem
I first saw this book on Carrie Gelson’s blog and have been a fan of it ever since. This is an amazing book that explains the inter-relationship of all the animals that help us get chocolate. Readers learn about how intricately nature is connected through the complicated process of harvesting cocoa beans. Detailed and interesting illustrations and two amusing bookworms who add funny sidebar comments add to the delight of this book. Who knew there were so many animals involved in the making of chocolate?
8. Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth– Rochelle Straus
Concept: Biodiversity, ecosystems, classification
On the “tree of life” – humans count for just one of 1, 750,000 leaves. WOW! There are millions of other life forms which with which we share this tree – but what are they and how are they organized? This book presents how life on earth is classified into five kingdoms, or “branches” of the tree; each branch is filled with thousands of “leaves”. This book will make you feel VERY small – but it’s a fascinating introduction to biodiversity.
9. Gravity – Jason Chin
Jason Chin is a master at taking complex subjects and making them accessible to young readers. He uses very simple text and life-like illustrations (almost makes you feel like you are floating in space!) to introduce children to the concept of gravity. Innovative and beautiful.
10. How Big is It? – Ben Hillman
Yes, these pictures are photo shopped! But the technical term is juxtaposition and Ben Hillman uses it brilliantly to teach the concept of size by comparing incredibly large items to ordinary everyday items. This book definitely has the “WOW” factor and the large illustrations will have your class begging you to turn the page to see “the next one”!
Tiny Creatures – The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies Concept: Microbes
Lifetime – The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives – Lola M. Schaefer Concept: Numbers
Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard – Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld : Seasonal change
Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest – Steve Jenkins Concept: Extreme environments, perspective, scale
Thanks for stopping by! What are your favorite “concept” books to share with your students?