Category Archives: Favorite Books of the Year

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2018

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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

Nonfiction picture books are invaluable read-aloud experiences and provide so many opportunities to link to content learning and inspire deep questions and rich discussions with your students! With 2018 coming to a close, I thought I would highlight my favorite Nonfiction picture books of the past year.  From animals, to insects, health, mapping, land and water, seasonal changes, ecosystems and biographies, there is sure to be a book on this list you can share with your students next term!

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Who Eats Orange? – Dianne White

Lots to love about this colorful, interactive concept book that introduces young children (Pre K- K) to different colors, animals and foods.  Engaging read-aloud filled with guessing-game pattern and rhyming text that students will enjoy, not to mention the stunning illustrations.  Lots of extra information at the back about what exactly the different animals eat and the biome they live in.

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What Do They Do With All That Poo? – Jane Kurtz

You can’t really go wrong with a book about poop in a primary class.  This one is perfect for reading aloud and practicing “The Knew-New” connection activity.  (“I knew this, but this is new to me”) Great information in this book (I learned a lot) and I like the question-answer format:  Why is hyena’s poop white? Do lions hide their poo like domestic cats? What animal has square poo? And of course, what do zoo’s do with all that poo? Sure to be a hit in your classroom!

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Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth – Kate Gardner

This beautiful book which breaks down myths of “scary beasts” with gentle tenderness.  Gorgeous illustrations include subtle shift from black and white depictions of our negative first impressions to full color when we learn the importance about each animal.  Just enough facts for younger students and I love the use of the “one word” activity in this book!

Terrific Tongues! – Maria Gianferari

Who knew that world of animal tongues was so  full of fascinating facts?   Tongues can be like a sword, like a straw, like a mop, and more. The story is carried by a cute monkey who investigates the mechanics of his animal friends’ tongues.  The guessing game format makes this a great read aloud and hard to resist a book that encourages kids to  stick out their tongues in a positive way?!  Love!

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Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide  – Rachel Poliquin

An engaging, entertaining graphic novel nonfiction book for middle grade students.  Love this unique format packed with amazing information as well as great illustrations and text features.  Hilarious and fast paced and I love the “guide book” size.  I look forward to more Superpower Field Guides!  (“Moles” is being released in June!)

Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids – Heather L. Montgomery

How do insect mama’s and papa’s take care of their babies?  Believe it or not, they have more in common to us than you would ever expect!  Such a fun read filled with so many amazing  and surprising insect facts.  Large format and humorous scenes will make this a very popular read-aloud!

Water Land:  Land and Water Forms Around the World – Christy Hale

Creative, clever cut-outs help readers learn about different land and water formations.  Simple, spare text even younger readers will understand.  This would be an excellent anchor book for introducing geographical terms and includes information at the back.  An excellent concept book!  LOVE this one!

The Squirrel’s Busy Year: A First Science Storybook – Martin Jenkins

Readers follow two squirrels as they travel through the changes of the seasons.  This is a simple concept book and would be a good one for teaching changing weather, plants, and animal patterns. There are teaching tips in the front and back of the story and a small index.

Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth – Carrie A. Pearson

There is much to love about this picture book which introduces readers to a a 600 year old Redwood – the tallest known tree on earth.  Through stunning, detailed illustrations and beautifully written sparse text (lots of triple scoop words!) this book takes us on a journey through an old growth forest ecosystem and all inter-conectedness of nature.

See How We Move – Scot Ritchie

I am a fan of Scot Ritchie books so was excited to see his new book about health and well-being.  (His other books on Community BuildingMapping Skills, and Buildings and Structures are well worth having in your library!)  Set within a story of five young multicultural friends who are competing together at a local swim meet, this book introduces young readers to a wealth of healthy habits:  importance of safety equipment (goggles, bike helmets), importance of exercise for your body, warming up before exercising, teamwork, practicing skills, enjoying the exercise, handwashing to stop spread of germs, proper nutrition, interaction of the brain and the body, and visualization.  Several games that kids can play to keep moving are included at the back.  Another MUST HAVE for your classroom or school library!

Mapping Sam – Joyce Hesselberth

Excellent blend of fiction and nonfiction in this one.  Readers follow an adventurous cat named Sam as he journeys and maps his way through the neighbourhood at night.   This would be a great way to introduce different types of maps to young students.  More details about each type of map can be found in the back of the book.

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House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery – Liz Rosenberg

“Anne with an E” is one of my favorite characters from my childhood!   I so enjoyed reading and learning about the fascinating life of the author and creator of the beloved Ann of Green Gables books in this very readable biography.  I learned so much about Maud’s fascinating life, her relationships, her mental illness and her battle to overcome it.  Recommended for older students and I recommend teachers pre-read it for appropriateness if planning to read it out loud.

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Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement – Stephanie Roth Sisson

For those who may not have read Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (first published in 1962), it was the groundbreaking book which introduced and exposed the impact of pesticides and herbicides on the life cycles of plants and animals. This picture book biography tells the true story of this inspirational environmentalist, leader, activist, scientist, and author Rachel Carson, highlighting and recounting her incredible accomplishments and contributions to science that changed the way the world thinks about our environment.  Timely and a great anchor to any unit on the environment.  Pay close attention to the amazingly detailed illustrations in this one!

The True Tale of a Giantess

The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan – Anna Renaud

This is a fascinating picture book about one of the “exhibits of curiosities” of P.T. Barnum.  Anna Swan was born in the 1800s in Nova Scotia, and grew up to be extraordinarily tall.  As people whispered and pointed at her, she decided to make the most of her situation.   Well written, simple language, told from the point of view of Anna.  The author does an excellent job of comparing her size to plants and animals.  There are additional facts and real photographs at the back.  I plan to add this title to my “Reading and Thinking Across Canada” unit.

Shaking Things Up – 14 Young Women Who Changed The World – Susan Hood

Amazing collection of tributes to 14 extraordinary rebel girls and women who changed the world.  Written in verse, each poem is paired up with an amazing illustrator.  Uplifting, powerful and inspirational and would certainly lead to further reading.  Reading one per day to a middle grade class would stimulate great discussions, questions, connections and inferences!   (in other words…. a little Reading Power!)

Thanks for stopping by and hope you found a title or two that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Animals, Biography, Ecosystems, environment, Favorite Books of the Year, Health, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mapping, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Picture Books of 2014 (Fiction)

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

As 2014 comes to an end, many book bloggers are reflecting on the year of reading and highlighting books that made their “best of” list.  And so as we come to the end of the year, I am happy to do the same.  I have divided my list into categories:  Favorite Read-Alouds, Favorite Friendships, Favorite Adventures, Favorite Characters,  Favorite Family stories, Favorite Wordless, Favorite Thought Provoking, Favorite Mindful, and Favorite Author.

How do I chose which books make the list?  My criteria is simple:  these books lingered.

Here is my list of my favorite picture books from 2014:

Favorite Read – Alouds

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 Hooray for Hat!  – Brian Won

This book is a perfect read-aloud for an early primary class.  It is colorful, infectious and a true treat to read aloud.  Your children will be chanting “Horray for Hat” after only a few pages!

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The Book with No Pictures – B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak, actor on the hit TV series The Office, has created a simple and ingenious book.  This book will make you laugh and leave children saying “Read it AGAIN!”  Delightful and a joy to read out loud! Watch the author share the book with a group of children: http://thebookwithnopictures.com/

Favorite Friendships

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The Lion and the Bird – Marianne Dubuc

A quiet, tender story of friendship told through simple text and soft, beautiful  illustrations.  After a lion helps a wounded bird, they become instant friends and spend the winter together.  Spring comes and bird is able to fly.  Wonderful message of the need to give friendship wings.   

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The Farmer and the Clown – Marla Frazee

In this touching ,wordless picture book, a baby clown falls off the circus train and lands in a farmer’s field.  An unexpected friendship develops as the farmer and clown spend the day together and discover some surprising things about each other and the world.  Reminded me of Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman.  I don’t really like clowns but I LOVED this book!  Whimsical and moving. 

Favorite Adventures:

Three Bears in a Boat – David Soman

Three Bear siblings set off on an adventure to try to replace their mother’s blue shell that they broke.  On the way, they encounter whales, sailors, islands and a huge storm.  This is a classic picture book filled with adventure, breath-taking illustrations and a message about honesty and taking responsibility.  LOVE!

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett

Clever, brilliant, quirky, witty, unique,  understated, open-ended, thoughtful  – there are not enough words to describe this book!  Two boys decide to dig a hole and try to find something spectacular. “It’s right there!” you will be shouting! The ending will have you scratching your head and starting the book all over again!

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Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

Based on true events, Dolphin SOS recounts the story of  local children who rescue three dolphins trapped in an icecovered cove off the coast of Newfoundland.  Gorgeous illustrations, this book will have you holding your breathe and then cheering when the dolphins are finally set free.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Favorite Characters (I hope will be made into stuffies!)

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Little Elliot in the Big City – Mike Curato

This is a sweet, simple story about an adorable little elephant named Elliot trying to make his way in the Big City.  Life is not easy for a small elephant but Elliot has a big heart and makes friends with someone even smaller than himself.  An adorable story of friendship and finding ones place in the world, not to mention cupcakes!  Amazing illustrations!

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 Sparky – Jenny Offill

This delightful story about an animal-loving girl who orders a sloth from a catalogue.  When the creature arrives, she names it Sparky – but sadly it does not live up to its name.  Sparky is not good at tricks or hide-and-seek or anything really.  But you, as I did, will fall in love with this charming,  irresistible sloth!

Favorite Family Stories

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Nana in the City – Lauren Castillo

Wonderful story of a young boy who spends the night at his grandmother’s house in New York City.   He is afraid of the noise and business of the city but Nana takes him for a walk and he soon sees the city through her eyes.  A heartwarming story of reassurance, family and being brave.  Love the illustrations in this book.

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The Troublemaker – Lauren Castillo

This book (yes, same author as Nana in the City!) is about family and sibling rivalry.  A young boy gets into trouble when he hides his sister’s bunny.  But when it goes missing a second time, they discover he is not the only troublemaker around.  Delightful story with a bit of a surprise ending, unless you have noticed the clues!

Favorite Thought – Provoking

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The Promise – Nicola Davies

Haunting, powerful, moving.  This story follows a child thief who lives in an empty, colorless place.  She steals a bag from an old lady and plants the seeds she finds inside, after making a promise, and in doing so, begins to change the world.  A story of hope and of promise.

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I Know a Bear -Mariana Ruiz Johnson

Wow – I think this just might be my favorite of my favorites and certainly the most thought-provoking.  Told in sparse text and gorgeous illustrations (I’ve been saying that a lot, it seems!) a young girl listens as a bear tells her of the wonderful place he used to live.  But he doesn’t experience the sweet berries or the cool water anymore; he lives in a zoo.  This is a book about listening, about caring and about doing what’s right.  Such a wonderful book for promoting discussions about animals in captivity.  AMAZING! 

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Inspiring and motivating story of nurturing ideas no matter how small and insignificant they may seem.    Great book to teach personification as the “idea” in the story is personified as an egg.  Brilliant!

Favorite Wordless

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Fox’s Garden – Princesse CamCam

Breath-taking illustrations tell the touching story of compassion and friendship.  A dreamy, wordless story about a boy who feeds a mother fox on cold winter’s night after she is lost and chased away by grown-ups.   Simple, wintery and wonderful. 

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Flora and the Penguin – Molly Idle

We first met Flora when she learned to dance ballet with a pink Flamingo.  In this follow-up, Flora delights us once again with her twirling, leaping, gliding and spinning her friend penguin as they skate their friendship across the ice.  Innovative, clever, captivating, charming.

Favorite Mindful/ Gratitude Books

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100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

Written in the rhyming lyrics of “Raindrops on Roses” – this book celebrates the joy that can be found in everyday things.  A wonderful book to share with younger children and inspire them to make their own list of “happy” things!  Lovely, whimsical illustrations!

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Breathe – Scott Magoon

Follow a young whale exploring the ocean and finding joy in simple pleasure.  But remember – pause and breathe.  Sparse, lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations  – this inspiring book is a delight to read and helpful to teach children how to be calm and relax.

Favorite Author

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Taan’s Moons: A Haida Moon Story – Alison Gear

This book was written by my sister and so OF COURSE it is on my list of favorite books!  But aside from the fact that my sister wrote it, it is an exceptionally beautiful book!  The story follows the Haida moon cycle through a year in the life of Taan (Haida for “bear”).  We follow Taan as she experiences the changing of the season and the changes in the moon.  The felt  illustrations were created by a local artist and the children of Haida Gwaii.  Read the story of this remarkable book here:  http://www.kikivanderheiden.com/taans-moons.html

Well, there you have it!  There were SO many other books I could have included!   Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave me a message to tell me what are your favorite picture books from 2014?

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Filed under Favorite Books of the Year, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud