Category Archives: Nonfiction

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!

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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

Top 10 Tuesday -Top 10 Nonfiction Picture Books of 2016!

From snow, to frogs; from giant squids to seeds and monsters – 2016 has been an amazing year for new Nonfiction picture books.  Here is a list of my favorite top 10 (well, okay… I’ve gone over a little!) books for sharing and reading aloud to your class.  These books would make excellent additions to your classroom or school library!

Canada – Year By Year – Elizabeth MacLeod

With Canada’s significant birthday coming this spring, this is a perfect book to explore the timeline of Canadian history from its beginning on July 1, 1867 to the upcoming 150th anniversary in 2017. It includes famous people, politics, sports, culture and significant events.  Accessible and interesting.

Best in Snow – April Pulley Sayre

Stunning photographs and simple, poetic text describes the beauty of winter in its various states and the way animals respond to the coldest season. Snow/meteorology facts included in the back. A great read aloud for Pre-k – Grade 2 and excellent anchor for word choice and imagery for Gr. 2-4.

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snow Day – Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a wonderful tribute to the author of this iconic book. Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day helped open the door to children’s books being published with diverse main characters. I love learning the “story behind the story” – of how Ezra Jack Keats pinned a series of photographs of an adorable African-American boy to his wall. Twenty years the boy in the photos became “Peter” and inspired him to write his first children’s book. Andrea Davis Pinkney writes with such poetic and lyrical language. Mark this as an anchor book for word choice!

The Darkest Dark  – Chris Hadfield

The Darkest Dark by beloved Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is probably my favorite biography of the year.  Inspired by Chris’s childhood and his dreams of becoming an astronaut and his fear of the dark. So much to love about this book: themes of facing and overcoming your fears, dreaming big, not to mention the extraordinary illustrations by the Fan brothers, the adorable family pug, and the short bio at the back. Delightful!  

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Fabulous Frogs – Martin Jenkins

There are so many kinds of frogs in the world — more than 5,000! — and all of them are fabulous.  Gorgeous illustrations combined with great scientific information makes this a fantastic read-aloud for your primary classroom.  I love Martin Jenkins conversational style of writing and have used his previous books  (Emperor’s Egg and Chameleons Are Cool) for modelling “voice”.

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Fish Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move   – Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I am a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books as they make for such engaging read-alouds (perfect for practicing “Knew-New Connections”)  The collage illustrations and the fascinating tid-bits and details about creatures are eye-catching and brain busting!  LOVE!

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Animals By the Numbers – A Book of Animal Infographics – Steve Jenkins

How many species are there across the globe?   How much do all of the insects in the world collectively weigh? How far can animals travel?  This second Steve Jenkins book will appeal to your science buffs and makes for a great WOW read-aloud!  Informative and engaging, this amazing book is chocker-block full of scientific research, Jenkins signature collage illustrations and computer graphics.  Ah-mazing!

Giant Squid – Candace Flemming

Wow!  This book is filled with amazing facts, incredible imagery, and gorgeous, rhythmic text.   This introduction to the mysterious Giant Squid is a perfect book for questioning as it is filled with so many unknowns about these creatures. Incredible!

Metropolis – Benoit Tardif

Benoit Tardif introduces young readers to some of the major cities of the world. Each city contains basic facts (country where located, primary language(s) spoken, population) and then spotlights the city through colorful blocked simple illustrations of landmarks, sports, culture, food, and people.  Will inspire your young geographers!  This is a great anchor book for NF text features.

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Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future – Allan Drummond

This interesting and inspiring nonfiction picture book would be a great starting point for discussions about what “going green” and sustainability mean. Told in a narrative style, this book tells the story of a small Kansas town that decides to build a “green city” after it was devastated by a tornado.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World – Nancy F. Castaldo

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  This book about the history and future of seeds is fascinating, inspirational and important. I learned so much from it – things about seeds I had never heard of: crop diversity, GMOs, biopiracy, how seed diversity affects the food on your plate, and how to get involved in saving the planet’s seeds.   Important call to action – this book would make an excellent resource for an inquiry into seeds in a middle school or high school.

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Monster Science – Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? –  Helaine Becker

A totally unique way of exploring science, this book uses a collection of classic monster examples to cover a wide and fascinating range of real science, mostly relating to anatomy and biology.  Engaging, humorous and fascinating!

The Polar Bear – Jenni Desmond

Oh, this book.  This book is extraordinary in so many ways….stunning illustrations, information presented in such an artistic way…immersion into the world and knowledge of the Polar Bear with a quiet message about climate change.   For those of you who loved Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale, this book is a must have.  Amazing facts will fill you and your students with wonder and awe.

           There you have it – my favorite Nonfiction Picture books for 2016.                             

What are your favorites?    

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Filed under Animals, Biography, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books, Science

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Nonfiction Connect Books for Primary

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday!  This week, I’m featuring my favorite Nonfiction “Connect” books!

When practicing “making connections” with your primary students, try alternating between fiction and nonfiction books so your students learn that we can connect to both stories and information.  When reading stories – we can make connections  to characters, feelings and events;  when reading information, we can make connections to background knowledge and experiences.  

Try using the “KNEW-NEW” connection after reading a nonfiction book to your class – “What was one fact from this book you already KNEW and one fact that was NEW information?”  Kids love the “KNEW-NEW”!

Here are my top 10 Nonfiction “CONNECT” books for Primary students…

  1.  The Handiest Things In the World – Andrew Clement

Connections to all the things our hands can do.

2.   With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

Connections to the value of friendships all around the world.

Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

Connections to families and cultures.

3.   You and Me Together:  Mom, Dads, Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley 

Connections to the strong bond between parent and child.  Stunning photographs!

4.  I, Fly:  the Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are – Bridget Haos

Connections to fly facts.

5. A Chicken Followed Me Home: Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl – Robin Page

Chicken connections!

6. Senses at the Seashore – Shelley Rotner

Connections to the sounds, smells and sights of the beach.

 7.  What in the World?  Numbers in Nature –  Nancy Raines Day

Connections to sets of numbers in the nature.

8.  Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? – Harriet Ziefert

Connections to rain facts.

9.  Water Is Water Miranda Paul

Connections to the journey of water.

10.  Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Connections to the hidden wonders in the garden.

What are your favorite Non-fiction books to teach and practice making connections?

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Filed under Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Kids Can Press – Part 2 (Nonfiction)

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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.

Last week, I shared some wonderful new releases from Kids Can Press, focusing on fiction books. (You can read that post here.)  This week, I’m happy to be sharing the nonfiction titles.

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                                                            Sport-O-Rama by Benoit Tardif

This book, originally published in French, is Montreal native Benoit Tardif’s first picture book. This is a playful, colorful guide to 23 different sports. Each double page spread features a different sport, depicting labeled visuals and humorous comments. There are fun puzzles to solve on the “half-time” page and detailed descriptions of the sports and a glossary are included at the back of the book. I can see kids loving to pour over the pages of this book, pointing and talking about the different sports and learning new vocabulary along the way. From badminton to golf to fencing to running a marathon – this book is a perfect for sports fans and, as the author states in his opening, may inspire you “to lace up your running shoes or strap on your skis and have fun!”

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Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building – Scot Ritchie
This book is perfect for classroom and school use and really does hit home with so many relevant topics connected to community. In this book, we follow five children who take us on a tour of their community, stopping in different places and introducing us to people, places and activities featured in their local community. I love the references to shopping locally, fundraising, the public library, community gardens and neighborhood car washes. At the back of the book is a glossary, activities and ways for children to get involved in their own local community. This would make a great book to launch a unit on community! 

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A Day in Canada – Per-Henrik Gurth

Wake up and spend the day exploring famous landmarks, festivals and activities across Canada!  Explore the hours in the day from coast to coast in this latest book in the popular Canada series by Per-Henrik Gurth. I love this series and this particular book would be a perfect way to launch a unit about Canada.  Gurth’s bold, colorful illustrations, reminiscent of Todd Parr, would also inspire some great art projects!  Each page includes a clock, so students can learn to tell time across the country. 

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School Days Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

 This is the third in the “Around the World” series by Canadian author Margriet Ruurs.  This book focuses on stories of real children around the world going to school – how they get there, what the school looks like,  favorite lessons, etc.  There is reference to different types of schooling including public, private, international and home schooling.   These books are wonderful resources to introduce children to different cultures and countries and also would be good anchors for comparative writing.   What do all these real children have in common? They all gather together to learn.    A world map at the beginning of the book shows the location of each of the countries, and a glossary contains definitions of the foreign words. Colorful collage illustrations are bright and inviting.

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The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle – Jude Isabella

The main character of this unique story is a bicycle. The story traces the journey of this bicycle and the lives it touches from Canada to Africa. (think “The Red Violin”) It begins its life journey with young Leo, who names it “Big Red”. When Leo outgrows his beloved bicycle, he donates it to an organization that sends used bikes to Africa. Big Red is then given to a girl who uses it to transport goods to the market and then is given to a man who uses the bicycle for his medical clinic. Information about donating bicycles is provided at the back of the book. An excellent story to show the power of one person, or one bike, to make a huge different and includes many themes including – pay it forward, re-cycling, donating, making a difference, giving back, cultural diversity.  The text is rather long but the story is very engaging. Would make a great companion to “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” (and they have almost the same title!) 

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Dinosaurs from Head to Tail – Stacey Roderick

When my son was four, he was obsessed with dinosaurs.  We would return from every library visit with a bag filled with dinosaur books.  I think he knew the names of all the dinosaurs before he knew the names of the days of the week!  This book would have been a HUGE hit with him!  It’s colorful, vibrant, simple and engaging.  The book contains 8 close-ups of different parts of a dinosaur’s body leaving you to guess which one it is.  When you turn the page you find the answer, along with fun facts about that particular dinosaur.  This is a great addition to a dinosaur collection – for home, for your classroom or library.

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The Queen’s Shadow – A Story About How Animals See – Cybele Young

I’m at a loss for words when it comes to this extraordinary book by Canadian writer/illustrator Cybele Young (Ten Birds). It is part nonfiction, part “who-done-it” mystery, part imaginary and a whole lot of WOW! During the Queen’s Ball, attended by animals, a major crime occurs – the Queen’s shadow is stolen! The Royal Detective, the Mantis Shrimp, begins interrogating all the animals in the hopes of finding the guilty party. Each creature provides the detective with their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight. Sidebars provide factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works. As each animal gives their testimony, more clues are revealed. There is SO much to love about this book – you really have to experience it for yourself to appreciate just how amazing it is! Exquisite, detailed, textured illustrations; sophisticated humour, engaging story and layers upon layers of unique story-telling. This is a smorgasbord for your eyes, an extravaganza for the mind and the most unique book I have seen in a long time. WOW!

Thanks you to Kids Can Press for sending me their new spring releases for review!  I love promoting Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers and hope that you will too!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know which book(s) caught your eye!  Happy reading week, everyone!

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Filed under Community, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Multicultural, New Books, Nonfiction

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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Filed under Nonfiction, Nonfiction 10 for 10, Picture Book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2014

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

Last week, I posted my favorite fiction picture books from the past year.  This week,  I’m excited to share my favorite Nonfiction Books of 2014.  Again, book selection is challenging as there are SO many to chose from.  I have also been taking a rather long break from any form of computer work over the Christmas break so I could focus on family and as a result, my descriptors are relatively short! But here they are…

FAVORITE ANIMAL BOOKS

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Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla – Katherine Applegate

A nonfiction companion to the amazing novel The One and Only Ivan.

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Creature Features – Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a master at capturing information in a captivating way both visually and descriptively.  In this book, the creatures describe their OWN features!  Great for teaching “voice” and a wonderful writing anchor.

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Animalium – Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

This is an amazing look into the world of animal classification.  Oversized book – wonderful for sharing with students and is made to feel as if you are walking through a museum.  Gorgeous and unique!

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Mama Build a Little Nest – Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Who knew there was such diversity when it came to nest building?  Fascinating to read and look at!

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The Slug (from the Disgusting Critter Series) – Elise Gravel

What can I say except that kids LOVE this series!  Interesting facts told with humorous illustrations and slap-stick comments.  A MUST for your classroom library!

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Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands  – Katherine Roy

Up-close and personal with the world’s most deadliest shark!  Captivating and surprising!

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A Baby Elephant in the Wild – Caitlin O’Connell

Excellent photographs and informative and interesting text.  Perfect for questioning and a great introduction to narrative nonfiction for younger students.

FAVORITE BIOGRAPHIES

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Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

Every child should know the story of this most important, courageous, inspiring man and what he did to end apartheid.  Amazing story, amazing illustrations, amazing man.

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Shakleton’s Journey – William Grill

Sir Ernest Shacklton’s amazing scientific expedition across the Antarctic.  Stunning pencil crayon illustrations.  A fascinating account of a great adventure.

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Kathryn Gibb Davis

Amazing facts and stunning illustrations describing George Ferris’s remarkable creation.

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The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus – Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

Stunning illustrations and a fascinating story of Peter Mark Roget – the man who created the thesaurus.  Inspires list making!

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Families Around The World – Margriet Ruurs

Wonderful look at different families: cultures, food, homes, clothing and customs.  Simple and interesting text – perfect for grade 2-3!

FAVORITE CONCEPT BOOKS:

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 IF:  A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers – David J. Smith

Author of If the World Were A Village, David J. Smith, creates a unique book that shrinks down concepts that are hard to wrap your brain around into a familiar and smaller scale.  Perfect book for linking with Math.

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 Tiny Creatures:  The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies

 An accessible introduction to microbes for primary students.  A great NF read aloud that will invite lots of  “oooos” and “aaahs.” LOVE this book!

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Gravity – Jason Chin

Through simple text and stunning illustrations,  Jason Chin explains what gravity does and why it is so important. A complex concept made simple. 

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

SOOOO many different teachable layers to this book including history, timelines, and life cycle of trees.  This unique book depicts the life of an oak tree spanning 200 plus years and how the world changes around it as it grows.  A perfect book to teach TRANSFORM. 

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Clever Concept Books – Jane Brocket

Apparently, there are other books in this wonderful series, but these two titles were released this year.  LOVE them for early primary classrooms – perfect link to teaching science concepts.  Simple text and bright, colorful photographs.

FAVORITE POETRY BOOKS:

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Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems – Paul B. Janeczko (editor)

Creating images using only a few words can be challenging but every poem in this collection succeeds in doing so. An lovely collection of short poems – and a perfect illustration to children that sometimes, less is more.

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Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons – Jon J. Muth

Soft watercolor illustrations and a charming panda bear, along with 26 haiku poems to celebrate seasons.  A treasure of a book.

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Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold – Joyce Sidman

I adore Joyce Sidman’s poetry and love how she weaves learning into her poems.  This is a beautiful collection of fascinating poems about how animals stay alive during winter.  LOVE.

And there you have it – my list of favorite Nonfiction Books of the past year.   Thanks for stopping by!  What were some of your favorites?

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Filed under Biography, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Nonfiction

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – New nonfiction titles for spring!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week I’m featuring some new nonfiction releases – several of which were sent to me to preview from one of my favorite Canadian-owned children’s publisher –  Kids Can Press.  

Animal ABC

Animal ABC – Marcus Pfister

Any of you who love alphabet books – this is a must for your collection!  I love the work of Marcus Pfister (Questions, Questions is one of my favorites!)  and in this book, he uses playful rhymes to highlight the distinct features of each animal.  K – “I carry my baby in a pouch.  I might look slow, but I’m no slouch.” (Kangaroo)  Of course the best part is that each rhyme is written as a riddle – so the book could be used for a guessing game for younger students as well.  The illustrations are amazing – so textured and colorful!  (Just a note – the book I have has a slightly different cover with different animals than the one shown here)

Secrets of the Seasons – Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

I’m a huge fan of any book related to seasons  so was happy to discover this new one to add to my large collection of season books!  This is a simple narrative text that includes Alice explaining to her friend Zack the reasons for the changing seasons.  I really liked how the scientific concepts were weaved through the narrative.  The illustrations are lovely and there are lots of great text features including charts and diagrams, and sidebars.  There are even two helpful and rather funny chickens who help Alice by providing more of the scientific details.  This would be a great book to read aloud to a primary class as an introduction to seasons and the earth’s yearly cycle.

 One World Together – Catherine and Laurence Anhalt

I love this husband and wife team from the UK and read many of their books to my boys when they were younger.  There is something very sweet and charming about the illustrations and the faces of the young children in their books.  In this delightful new book, we take a trip around the world to meet children from lots of different places and peek into their lives.  Every page is a new country and we see how children in different places in the world live, what they eat, where they live, etc.  It’s perfect for comparing our lives to the lives of children all over the world.  The countries featured are Brazil, China, Russia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Morocco, and the United States. A great book to share to introduce a theme of cultural diversity to the younger children.

At the Same Moment, Around the World

At the Same Moment Around the World – Clotilde Perrin

This beautifully illustrated book teaches readers about time zones in a very unique way.  (Even the tall shape of the book is unique!)  The illustrations are lovely – they seem to flow into each other as you turn the pages.  In a 24 hour period, we travel around the world, hour by hour, visiting different time zones in different countries.  I loved how the book ends as it began – a circle of time – and that there is a map at the back.  (I love books with maps!)

Zoobots

Zoobots – Helaine Becker  (Kids Can Press)

A “ZOOBOT” is type of animal inspired robot designed using mechatronics – mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science. This sci-fi type book is set up like a animal book. On each page, we are introduced to a facts and stats about a different “zoobot” – and learn what animal it evolved from, its zoobot name, its super skill, its applications and its special operation. “Dash”, for example, is the robot that evolved from the cockroach)  I’m not a particular fan of robot design but I can see how this book would be VERY appealing to many kids I know!   Even though the zoobots are not actually real – the book is informative and intriguing!

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet

Underworld – Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet – Jane Price   (Kids Can Press)

WOW!  This book is fascinating!  I still have not read through every page because there is just so much to read and look at!  Who knew there were whole worlds hidden below the grass and streets?  From caves to subways to mines to tombs, dungeons, trenches and buried treasures!  WOW again!  This is a book that you can spend hours looking through (I already have!) Every 2-page spread features a different underground world.  The text is very accessible with many text features to help you navigate through the information.  The captions and fact boxes are entertaining.  I also loved the illustrations combined with many photographs. My favorite pages were the side view cross-sections.  AMAZING!

Plesiosaur Peril

Plesiousaur Peril – Daniel Loxton  (Kids Can Press)

Well, I am a little ashamed to admit that I did not know that plesiosaurs were ocean-dwelling cousins of the dinosaurs! But now I do – thanks to this book!  The story reads like a narrative, with many scientific facts woven throughout.  A pod of plesiosaurs keep safe by swimming in a family pod until one baby plesiosaur swims too far from its mother and encounters danger and the struggle for survival is on.  This story is quite dramatic at times and I found the digitalized computer generated created life-like images.  I am not a huge dinosaur fan but I know it will be a big hit for the dinosaur lovers at my school!

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles

 Shapes in Math, Science and Nature – Katherine Sheldrick Ross  (Kids Can Press)

An awesome resource book for teaching concepts about shape – focusing on the Square, Triangle and Circle.  This book is overflowing with interesting information  – from the history of shapes to odd and interesting facts, as well as  instructions on how to make different shape-based projects.  There are even some magic tricks included!  (Super Circle on page 137 was a great trick!)  I’m not sure who will love this book more – kids or teachers!  The illustrations are charming and there is a great section at the back that lists math formulas.  Not a book to read cover to cover in one sitting but certainly one to pick and chose activities and facts to share.

Every Day Is Malala Day

Every Day is Malala Day – Rosemary McCarney

Malala Yousafzai is the 16 yr. old Pakistani student who was shot by the Taliban because she spoke out for the right to be able to attend school.  Recognized world wide for her courage and conviction, she is now a symbol of the struggle for girls’ rights all over the world.     Her story is one that every child should know and this book is a wonderful tribute to her continued fight for girls to be educated.  The book is beautiful.    It is written as a letter from girls around the world to Malala, as they express their sympathy and admiration for her.  It is powerful and emotional and a wonderful book for introducing students social justice and children’s rights.  This is a MUST book for every classroom!  A portion of proceeds of the sale of the book will go to  Because I am a Girl campaign.   You can watch an interview with Malala here

Well – it’s been a very exciting week of new nonfiction books!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alphabet book, Mapping, Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Seasons, social justice, Social Studies

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – Holy Science, Batman!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week, I thought I would feature some new Nonfiction Series that have just been released or soon to be.  Many of these I am excited about bringing into our library as they are not only appealing for students but great for teachers as they can be used to support many different content areas.

Batman Science Series  – Tammy Enz

This new series by Capstone Press explores the facts behind some of Batman’s high tech gadgets.  What could be better than combining the famous super hero with science facts?  I can just imagine how popular these books will be, particularly with boys.  I really liked the way the book compared Batman technology with real-life facts and photos.  My only slight concern is that for the younger Batman fans, the information, language and content is rather sophisticated.  Despite my slight reservation, I will be purchasing the series for our library!

 

            

 

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Seasons Series – Lizanne Flat

While these look like books about the seasons – they are, in fact, more focused on math concepts than science.  (I should have paid more attention to the titles!)  But once I understood what the books were trying to do, I LOVED the idea!   They are interactive and with very colorful pictures and introduce the concepts of patterning, sorting, estimating, probability.  A WONDERFUL link to Math!

                   

                 

Adapted to Survive Series –  Angela Royston  (Captsone Press)

Another new great series by Captstone Press focuses on different animals’ common skill – flying, climbing, digging – and how they have adapted to survive in its own particular environment.   The photographs are wonderful and I love that the reading level is low enough for children to read independently.  For teachers looking for engaging high interest-low vocabulary books, I would highly recommend these books!

        

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Benjamin Blog and his Inquisitive Dog – Anita Ganeri  (Capstone Press)

WOW!  Another amazing brand new series by Capstone Press.  This one is a definite WINNER!  Not only is it filled with amazing photographs and interesting information – but it is written as a travel blog!  How great is that for all you bloggers out there?   Benjamin Blog and his inquisitive dog Barko Polo (ha!)  travel the globe blogging about the world’s most exciting habitats including  rivers, deserts, rainforests, coasts, coral reefs, and mountains.  There is also a series in the works for Benjamin and his dog to explore different countries.   I’m excited at the thought of using these books anchors for many different research and writing projects!

         

  

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 Infographics  – Chris Oxlade (Capstone)

For those of you, like me, who are unfamiliar with this term – “infographics” are creative graphic visual representation of information.  In this series, the author creates a variety of engaging infographics that teach readers all about  animals, environment, weather and population.   I love the simplicity of using creative visuals to share information and numerical facts about different topics and think that these would be wonderful books for children who may have difficulty accessing information from written texts.

           

Weather Infographics           

Well… there you have it!  And if you hadn’t noticed – most of these new series are published by Capstone Press – one of the best publishers of nonfiction books for kids!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science, Seasons, Social Studies

February 10 for 10! Ten Nonfiction Books I Can’t Live Without!

I’m excited to participate in the first 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.

So what are the 10 nonfiction picture books I cannot live without?   As I did with my 10 for 10 picture book list in the summer, I have decided to organize this list around Nonfiction Reading Power strategies I use for helping students read and understand informational texts.   There are 5 strategies – so I have selected two anchor books for each!   The books I chose are not only my “tried and true” books in my classroom but often books I share with teachers at workshops.   It’s tough to narrow it down – but here we go….

Zooming In – to Nonfiction Text Features

My Map Book

1. My Map Book – Sara Fanelli

This is a wonderful anchor book for teaching students about using nonfiction text features – in particular – mapping and labeling.  I LOVE this book and have used it SO often as an anchor book for many lessons that my cover is nearly falling off!  This book is a collection of child-like drawings of different types of maps:  map of a neighbourhood, map of my bedroom, map of my family, map of my heart (My students make a “Map of my Heart” for Valentines day every year – using this book!)  There are unique maps that can stimulate all sorts of lesson extensions.  A MUST for your nonfiction collection!

Imagine You're a Knight!: Lady Megavere, Lucy D'Ancealot

2.  Imagine You’re A Knight – Lucy and Meg Clibbon

Lucy and Meg Clibbon are sisters from the UK.  They have created a series of books about different people including Knights, Pirates, Astronauts, Princess, Wizards, Mermaids and Ballerinas.  They are incredibly funny and visually appealing andI love how Lucy and Meg use LOTS of nonfiction text features (labels, maps, charts, captions, etc) to represent the information.   While some may consider this style of book to be to be more fiction,  they are excellent examples to show students the use of text features.

Determining Importance

Sorting out main idea from supporting details can be a challenge for students.  When practicing this strategy – I look for books with short, interesting sections I can use for a read-aloud during a guided lesson.  Here are two of my favorites:

How Big Is It?

3. How Big is It?  – Ben Hillman

This appeal of this book are the amazing photographs.  Ben Hillman uses amazing photographic juxtaposition (that was a mouthful!)  to show comparisons of size.  The book is large enough to hold up for students to see the pictures easily.  I love the short informational passage explaining each photograph.  Be prepared for a lot of “Whoa’s!”  and “Wow’s!”

Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth

4. Extreme Animals – The Toughest Creatures on Earth – Nicola Davies

This is another great book for using to practice determining importance.  Nicola Davies has included many interesting facts about animals who need to adapt to survive extreme heat and extreme cold. The unique thing about the book is that from one side, the book is about animals adaptation to extreme cold – flip it over and start from the other side to learn about animals adapting to extreme heat.  As always, I love Nicola Davies use of voice and humor in her writing.  Hilarious illustrations and comic-like animation.  (My favorite page is about “Frogcycles”!)

 Making Connections 

You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World

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

I could not have a list of favorite nonfiction books without including a book by Barbara Kerley.  Barbara Kerley is a photographer for National Geographic – so her photography in all of her books is amazing.  In this book, she captures images of the relationship between parent and children from different places in the world.  With very little text, she is able to capture this bond beautifully.  I love to read this book to students and invite them to make connections.  Information about each photograph and where it was taken is included in the back of the book.

The Great Big Book of Families

6. The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

Many primary curriculums include a focus on families and communities.   I always tell teachers at my workshops that this book encompasses an entire unit on family, community, school, cultural celebrations – you name it and you will find it in this book!  The book is well laid out and has colorful, interesting illustrations.  I like how Mary Hoffman recognizes different family make ups and adopted children.

Asking Questions

I Wonder

7. I Wonder – Tana Hoban

This simple beginning reader has become one of my favorite anchor books for questioning.  Tana Hoban takes readers on a “wonder walk” outdoors and questions simple things she sees along the way.  “Have you ever wondered how hard it is to spin a web?”  “Look at that tree – there’s moss growing on one side but not the other.  I wonder why?”  Beautiful photographs and clear close ups make this a perfect nonfiction read-aloud.   I like to read this book to my students and then take the on a class on our own “Wonder Walk”.

Why?: The Best Ever Question and Answer Book about Nature, Science and the World around You

8. Why?  The Best Question and Answer book about Science, Nature and the World around You – Catherine Ripley

This book really is the best question and answer book about the world around you!   There are questions and answers about just about everything you can think of:  Kitchen Questions, Bathroom Questions, Farm Questions, Night time Questions.  I like to read one question just before I send my students home as “thinking homework”. Have you ever wondered why some eggs are white and some are brown?    They think about the question and come back to school the next day and share their thinking.  After sharing our “maybe’s” – I read them the answer from the book.  They LOVE it!

Infer

It's Our Nature

9. It’s Our Nature – Rebeca Orozo

This delightful book explores the character traits that the animal kingdom shares with humanity — altruism, community, generosity, responsibility, trust, commitment, solidarity, brotherhood and tolerance.  The illustrations are delightful.  I start by listing the character traits from the book and discussing them with the students.  I  then read a description of one of the animal’s behavior and invite the students to infer which trait this animal is demonstrating .

A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home

   10. A Strange Place to Call Home:  The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home                         – – Marilyn Singer

The art in this book by Ed Young is amazing.  The poetry, by renowned poet Marilyn Singer, is amazing.  This is a collection of 14 poems, each highlighting  a specific relatively unknown animal who have, against the odds, adapted to their extreme environments.  Students can use the clues in the poems to infer what type of environment they live in and what features they need to survive.  Great additional information included at the back.

Transform

Often when teaching students about synthesizing information, or what I refer to as “transformed thinking”, I look for books that provide students with information that can potentially change their thinking in some way.

What Do You Do When Something Wants To Eat You?

11.What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? – Steve Jenkins

My top nonfiction list would not be complete without a Steve Jenkins book.  While I have and love many, this is one I use most when teaching students about how books can sometimes change our thinking.  In his classic collage illustrations, Jenkins explores the many fascinating and unique ways animals defend themselves against predators.   Many students find new meaning to the expression “run for your life”!

What Does it Mean to Be Present?

12.  What Does it Mean to be Present? – Rana DiOrio

This recently published book has made it’s way to the top of my favorite pile!   Rana DiOrio has created a vibrant, thought-provoking picture book that simply and effectively teaches us to be present, mindful and caring citizens.  When teaching students about books that transform our thinking, I like to write the word “present” on the board and ask students to “take stock of their thinking” before we read.  Most students make connections to birthdays, Christmas, wrapping paper and boxes.  After reading the book – we talk about how our thinking about the word “present” now looks different than before we read the book.

And there you have it!  My top 10 (Ok.. I went over by two!)  Nonfiction Picture Books!  Thanks for reading my post!

Which picture books are on the top of your “can’t live without” pile?

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Filed under Blog Challenge, Connect, Infer, Lesson Ideas, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Transform

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

Here are the nonfiction books I’ve been reading this week:

New Year’s Day – Celebrations in My World     Crabtree Publishing   

 

This was the perfect “back to school” book to start the New Year with my students.  It is a great book to share – filled with colorful photographs and interesting information about the history, customs and celebrations of New Year’s Day around the world.  There was also a page about New Year’s resolutions – which was a great way to launch our writing about our own resolutions!

I is For Imagination – An Invention Alphabet – by Marcia Schoberg

This term I am working with a grade 7 class on a project linking writing with their Social Studies unit on ancient inventions from Mesopotamia.  I used this anchor book today to launch the unit and get the children thinking about inventions.   We spent nearly 40 minutes reading this book and discussing inventions!   For every letter of the alphabet, I had the students predict the invention in the book:

“A” – is for…?  Students responses:  “airplane”, “antibiotics”, “apps” (ha!), “apple pie”  (The actual invention in the book is “aluminum”)

Once the invention had been revealed, we discussed the importance of the invention and how it made an impact on our lives.  By the time we got to “Z” – the kids were hooked and so excited about their project.  I learned SO much and HIGHLY recommend this as an anchor book to launch an invention unit!

Big Bang Science Experiments – Jay Hawkins (Windmill Books

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During the second term at my school, the intermediate classes spend a great deal of time preparing for the school Science Fair.  For the younger students who are participating for the first time, it can be a challenge coming up with just the right experiment or project.  Our great Teacher Librarian discovered this series and they have proved to be VERY helpful resources,   The books include clear photograph visuals, instructions and examples of many different experiments to try.

First Facts Biography Series (Capstone)

                                       

I’m a huge fan of Biographies for kids – and while I tend to be drawn towards the more narrative versions like On a Beam of Light and The Tree Lady, I also think it’s helpful to have examples of more factual biographies at a lower reading level.  This series  of 6 books (missing here are Jeff Kinney and Barbara Park)  was released in August – and I love that they include authors of books that many students will be familiar with.  The text is very accessible with full colored photographs and many text features.  A great collection for your library!

Noisy Frog Sing Along – John Himmelman

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Noisy Frog is an simple but interesting look at the different songs frogs make!  Some peep, some trill, some growl, some creek, and some go WAAH, WAAH, WAAH!  (Who knew?)  This book has bold and beautiful pictures and great facts at the back provide information about the “singers”!  Big frog love for this book!

The Unpopular Pea (& Carrot) by Elle Valentine

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I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover, but debated whether I should list it as a nonfiction read.  It is a cute story of a pea and carrot who feel unloved compared to the donuts and candy everyone seems to love.  It has a fun rhyming text and very cute illustrations, however, the important message of this book focuses on nutrition.  It shows the differences between junk food and vegetables and would be a great anchor book to help teach children how to make healthy choices.  It’s also just darn cute!

What nonfiction picture books have you been reading this week?

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Filed under Lesson Ideas, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science