Monthly Archives: February 2015

Nonfiction 10 for 10 – 2015! Favorite NF Concept Books

 

          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 RefineMandy 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. 

18635639

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!

20675094

                                          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.

225679

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.

576260

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.

11045882

5. Just a Second – Steve Jenkins

Concept:  Time

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.

6013416

6. Living Sunlight:  How Plants Bring Earth to Life – Molly Bang

Concept: photosynthesis

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. 

14992908

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?

1442206

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. 

17591765

9. Gravity – Jason Chin

Concept:  Gravity

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. 

2289333

10. How Big is It? – Ben Hillman

Concept:  Size

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”!

Honorable mentions:

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?

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Nonfiction, Nonfiction 10 for 10, Picture Book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Februrary Fun!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers.

I have discovered some wonderful new picture books this week that I’m excited to share!

22249668

Red: A Crayon’s Story – Michael Hall

I love books that have different layers of interpretation and I can see Red as having the potential to stimulate some deep discussions with older children. Red is a crayon who doesn’t fit in – he has a bright red label, but never quite feels as if he belongs and is miserable. The reason is – he’s actually a blue crayon with a red label. Readers know this, but Red doesn’t realize until a new friend offers him some insight on his true color. This story is simple, clever celebration of inner diversity. Simple prose, colorful illustrations – this book is a gem! 

22318389

6162DsZCZZL[1]

I Don’t Want to Be A Frog! – Dave Petty

I absolutely LOVED this book!  It’s hilarious and carries a great message about self esteem and self acceptance.  Little Frog does NOT want to be a frog – in fact he would rather be ANY other animal than a slimy, wet, bug eating frog!  Beautiful illustrations, funny and I am already thinking it would be a great writing anchor for “What Animal Would You Rather Be?”   Fantastic book!

22546632

Click Clack Peep! – Doreen Cronin

Here’s another “Click, Clack” book to add to my collection, and while it doesn’t quite live up to the original “Click, Clack, Moo!” – I enjoyed it very much!  The story centers around a little duck who is not going to sleep.  The cows, and all the animals provide amusing suggestions on how to get this little duck to sleep, while Farmer Brown has no clue what is going on.  This book would make a great gift for new parents! 

21965059

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich – Julia Sarcone-Roach

This is a VERY clever book with a surprise ending that your students will love but likely not suspect!    You left your sandwich on a park bench while you left to play with your friends and when you come back – it’s gone.  What happened to it?  And so begins the detailed recounting of what happened to your sandwich – a bear at it!  Or did it?  Hilarious and fun – this book is a perfect read-aloud and would make an excellent anchor for re-telling an event in sequence with lots of examples of transition words. 

20759653

One Big Pair of Underwear – Laura Gehl

Fun, rhyming text and hilarious illustrations – this is an excellent book for teaching counting and the importance of sharing!  Silly and fun – and we all know how much kids love listening to us read the word “underwear”!

20791092

Sick Simon – Dan Krall

Simon is sick but he still goes to school… and spreads his germs to everyone!  Hmmm…I was not quite sure about this one because the illustrations were pretty disgusting – graphic illustrations of phlegm and mucus – Blech!  But I believe that was intentional!  This is a must book for the classroom during cold and flu season as it is an effective way to talk about germs and how illness is spread.   

17364851[1]

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons – Sara Levine

“Have you ever wondered what we would look like if we didn’t have any bones? It wouldn’t be pretty.” These are the first lines from this interesting, interactive Nonfiction book. A conversational, question-answer format, this book introduces young readers to different skeletons – from humans to animals. Great for introducing comparing and a perfect read-aloud in a primary classroom. Engaging, interesting and fun!  Thank you, Carrie Gelson, for introducing me to this book!

18014736

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission – Judith Viorst

I first learned of this book from our amazing teacher-librarian at my school.  She told me how much her own two girls had loved this beginning chapter series and now it was a very popular book in our library.  I also noticed on Alyson Beecher’s blog post Kid Lit Frenzy  that it had recently won a Cybil award (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) for best early chapter book 2014.  And who doesn’t love anything written by Judith Viorst?  So… I knew I had to read it!  This is actually the third installment in the Lulu series – and begins with Lulu’s parents going out of town and leaving her with a babysitter – Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky!  Lulu is NOT pleased and concocts many different plans to bring her parents home, until Ms. Solinsky reveals a secret!  This book has simple enough text for beginning readers but is chocker-block full of fun!  I loved it and am now going to put my name on the wait list in our library for the other two!

crossover
 The Crossover – Kwame Alexander

Josh Bell
is my name.
But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame
Folks call me that
’cause my game’s acclaimed,
so downright dirty, it’ll put you to shame.
My hair is long, my height’s tall.
See, I’m the next Kevin Durant,
LeBron, and Chris Paul.

WOW! Oh Wow! From the second you start reading this book, you will not be able to stop! Basketball loving, dread-locked Josh Bell stole my heart and he will steal yours. This book was recently awarded the Newberry for 2015 and has been getting a lot of buzz. I was reluctant because I don’t really like basketball and am not a huge fan of books in verse. But this book is nothing like anything I’ve ever read: dazzling characters with amazing voices; rollicking, rhyming, bouncing rhythm; extraordinary writing; a powerful ending; themes of sportsmanship, family, siblings, coming of age, diversity, death, courage… This book is brilliant, funny, poignant, entertaining. And in case you haven’t inferred – I LOVED this book! YOU MUST READ IT! And if you teach grades 6-9 (I’d go as low as grade 5) YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK TO YOUR CLASS! Okay, I’ll stop.

Extended book trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BONWz5Ao82E

Funny clip by the author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO2-u1258UU

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What book(s) caught your eye?  I’d love to know!

17 Comments

Filed under Award Winner, Beginning Chapter Book, Book in Verse, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Sports

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Family Day with Books

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Today is Family Day – a day in February observed in Canadian provinces.  This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.  In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February.  In celebration of Family Day, I have put together a collection of some of my favorite books that celebrate families, from picture books, nonfiction books and chapter books.  I have even included a few favorite titles from my childhood! These books would be a wonderful addition to your unit on families and are perfect books for making connections.

120654

The Family Book – Todd Parr

In his signature bright and colorful style, Todd Parr respectfully celebrates the many different types of families.

9594175

The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

This interesting book showcases all aspects of family life – from houses, holidays, schools, pets and family trees.  Each double page spread is filled with charming illustrations and fascinating facts to pour over.  A perfect book to compliment a unit of study on families at the primary level.

All Kinds of Families!

All Kinds of Families – Mary Anne Hoberman

This picture book uses rhyme to talk about the different kinds of families that belong to not only people, but to animals and objects as well.   The rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud for younger students, and while it is not one of my favorite Hobberman books, I still enjoyed the celebration of different families and the retro-illustrations.

20675097

Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

This is an excellent book to use for a unit on cultural diversity.  In it, we visit fourteen children from different countries around the world to learn about their families, homes, customs and family activities.  Each two-page spread is told in first person and begins with a greeting in the child’s native language. Bright, detailed illustrations and lesson suggestions are included in the back.

640653

You and Me Together – Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley

This is one of my favorite books for practicing making connections.  Short, sparse narrative and stunning photographs by National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley, this book shares the simple joys of families being together and the message that no matter where you come from around the world – we all share a special bond with our family.

Families, Families, Families!

Families, Families, Families!  – Suzanne Long

This brand new book takes on the topic of the diversity of families in a charming , humorous way.  Funny cartoon animals illustrate the idea that families come in all different forms.  Delightful, charming, clever!  

32374

 I Love You Like Crazy Cakes – Rose Lewis

Author Rose Lewis brings to lifer her true story of adopting a baby from China.  The story documents the adoption process, beginning with her letter to Chinese officials and ending with her bringing home a baby girl.  Touching and heartwarming.

The Snow Globe Family

The Snow Globe Family – Jane O’Conner

I loved snow globes as a child so was immediately drawn to this book.  It tells the parallel story of two families – the old-fashioned “big” family inside their Victorian house and the almost identical little family inside the snow globe.  Both families are longing for a snow storm.  Charming, clever and a fun ending.

181696

Charlie Anderson – Barbara Abercrombie

This book is one of my all-time books for reading and practicing questioning and inferring.  While you think this story is about a cat who spends the days in one house and the nights in another, the message is really about children from separated or divorced families who live part time with one parent and part time with another.  Like Charlie the cat,  having two homes and two parents who love you is a good thing.

 

All-of-A-Kind-Family – Sydney Taylor

I could not complete a list of favorite family books without including this classic from my childhood.  I LOVED this book when I was young and read and reread it over and over again.  I loved reading about the adventures of five sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie – yes, I still remember their names!) from a Jewish family living in New York’s lower east side at the turn of the century during the turn of the century.  From bags of penny candy to searching for buttons in the front parlor  – I put myself into this book and lived every adventure with this family.

7188098

Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Janson

Another blast from my childhood past, these quirky, slightly strange collections of whimsical stories are centered around the magical Hobgoblin’s hat – which has the power to change things into something else.  I loved the characters – Moomintroll, Sniff, Snufkin, Thingummy and Bob and all their magical adventures and I still think about those floating clouds when I throw my eggshells into the garbage!

 10843249

The Borrowers – Mary Norton

The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor.   As a child, I was fascinated at the thought of this tiny world of this tiny family who lived by “borrowing” things.  It was magical and whimsical and I wanted to be tiny and live with the Clocks!

215014

Year of the Dog – Grace Lin

Wonderful contemporary story of family and friendship, Year of the Dog chronicles a year in the life of Grace Lin’s Taiwanese/Chinese American family in upstate New York. I love using this book for Literature circles as there are so many connections to family, school and friendship that students will make. 

18769869

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher – Dana Alison Levy

Saving the best for last…. this is a brand new novel and I LOVED it!   So many wonderful themes are included in this fantastic story of a family with four boys including taking risks, caring for each other, making choices.  This would be such a great read-aloud to share as  the book stimulates so many connections that would lead to great discussions.  I loved how each chapter begins with a short note -a little clue of the misadventure that’s on the way.  I loved how much I cared for each of the characters.  I loved how this book made me smile.  Basically I loved everything about this book It is charming, funny, heartwarming, beautifully written and my favorite new chapter book of the year so far!

Happy reading and Happy Family Day everyone!

11 Comments

Filed under Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections