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. 

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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!

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                                          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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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?

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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. 

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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. 

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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?

 

 

 

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7 Comments

Filed under Nonfiction, Nonfiction 10 for 10, Picture Book

7 responses to “Nonfiction 10 for 10 – 2015! Favorite NF Concept Books

  1. Do you think Steve Jenkins ever sleeps? But-I’m glad if he doesn’t because I do love the books. I also love your honorable mention, Tiny Creatures, & the rest is great too. Thanks for ones new to me; Tree of Life looks beautiful, and How Big Is It looks interesting for the younger ones. Thanks, Adrienne!

  2. Thanks, Linda! It was hard to narrow my selection to 10 – which is why I cheated a little and added those extra titles! Tree of Life is beautiful – but more suited for older students. How Big is It also has companion books How Fast is It? How Strong is It? and How Weird is It? My students love them ALL! About Steve Jenkins every sleeping – I’m also glad he doesn’t!

  3. Heather MacDonald

    Every time I read your lists I want to buy every single book! Keep it up!
    Do you have any recommendations for high level picture books around global issues like girls access to education, child labour, or poverty?

    • Hi Heather! Thanks for your comments and I’m happy to know you are enjoying my lists! For your request on global issues I would definitely recommend Every Day is Malala Day – by Rosemary McCarney and Jeanette Winter’s new book about both Malala and Iqbol – two children from Pakistan who stood up for their rights. Jeanette Winter also has a book called Nasreen’s Secret School. Hope this helps!

  4. Adrienne,
    I enjoyed the way you set your list up around concepts. How did I not know this Steven Jenkins title? I agree with Linda; he must not sleep.

    I hope you can add your post to our new Google picture book community: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/109747361653807401083/stream/0fbd26e0-4b53-45f0-bd73-192d6ee97436 . I know others would enjoy your list. The community has become a smart picture book resource.

    If you need help or have questions, just let me know.
    Cathy

  5. I love how people fit various books into themes and how a particular book can fit various themes. Love this idea of how these titles can teach various concepts. I too love Steve Jenkins. Was just saying how I love that he is so prolific but that I can NEVER resist a new book of his! This title about time was one I used with a class a few years ago. They loved all the thinking it inspired.

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