Tag Archives: Margriet Ruurs

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

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With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Nonfiction Connect Books for Primary

top 10

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

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

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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

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.

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The Family Book – Todd Parr

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!  

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 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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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

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