Tag Archives: Nicola Davies

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for Fall – Part 2

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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

The Way to School – Rosemary McCarney and Plan International

Just what would you go through to get to school? This stunning book explores how, in some countries, children often have to travel through disaster zones, cross dangerous waters, climb mountains and maneuver zip-lines just to get into the classroom. Some of them even carry their own desk!   The determination in the children’s expressions and in their body language as they make their way to school would be perfect for practicing inferring. An important book to share with children and one that could stimulate a conversation about the desire for education and the physical commitment so many children face each day.  Simple text and stunning photographs – this book is a gem!  Proceeds from the sale of this book go to Plan Canada, one of the largest international development agencies in the world.

The Good Little Book – Kyo Maclear

I admit that I got a little teary-eyed reading this book… It is a classic love story of sorts: Boy finds book, boy falls in love with book, boy takes book everywhere, boy loses book… But truly this is the story about the transformation that books can have in our lives: the adventures, the relationships, and the memories. Amazing whimsical illustrations. This is definitely a book to start off your school year.

The Little Book of Big Fears – Monica Arnaldo

Simple, rhyming text introduces 16 children who share their fears – from raccoons to the dark.  Alphabet book of sorts – but the missing letters spell out GUTSY and BRAVE.  Perfect book for making connections with K-2!  My only thought was that there was no reference to how you can conquer these fears – but an important “after reading” discussion!

Waiting – Kevin Henkes

Love. Love. Love.  I love this book so much.  Soft, simple, quiet, wise, gentle, whimsical – Kevin Henkes is a master storyteller.  Waiting is about five toy friends who sit on the windowsill of a child’s home waiting for their turn at play.  I already have a plan for reading this book to a primary class, focusing on visualizing:  read through, without interruption and allow the students to delight in the sounds of the words and let their minds imagine.  After the book is finished, I will ask them, “Hmmmm, what do you think the friends are waiting for?  Turn and talk to your partner.”   Hug this book.  Love this book.  It’s “waiting” to be read.

Friendshape – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 This latest book by the clever, creative Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about the friends who “shape” our lives, is filled with fun word play, great illustrations and would make a wonderful read-aloud for a primary classroom!  Not my very favorite Rosenthal book but certainly worth a look!

With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley captures images of friends from around the world and pairs them with simple, touching text.  Wonderful book for making connections and also learning about different places in the world.  Map and background information about each photo are included in the back.

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That’s (NOT) Mine – Anna King

Two cute fuzzy bears want the same chair but they do not want to share. Great illustrations, a lesson on manners and a lot of laughs! 

Lizard from the Park – Mark Pett

Adorable story of a young boy who finds a lizard egg in the park.  Crack!  It hatches into a pet lizard… who grows… and grows.. .and grows!  Charming illustrations by the author/illustrator of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and Bicycle.  Lovely surprise ending!

I (Don’t) Like Snakes – Nicola Davies

Fun blend of fiction and non-fiction about snakes.  Although the narrator is convinced that she doesn’t like snakes, for every negative she identifies, her snake-loving family come up with the positives!  Interesting information and great illustrations!  I love anything Nicola Davies writes! 

Bug in A Vacuum – Melanie Watt

This clever picture book explores the 5 stages of grief through the eyes of a bug who gets sucked up by a vacuum.    Sounds strange, but it’s brilliant and emotional and the illustrations are hilarious.  I would definitely read this to older students.  Another winner by the author of Scaredy Squirrel.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book(s) has caught your eye?

 

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Filed under 2015 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

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

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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 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

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

IMWAYR

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

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

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

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

Favorite Read – Alouds

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 Hooray for Hat!  – Brian Won

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

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The Book with No Pictures – B.J. Novak

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

Favorite Friendships

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The Lion and the Bird – Marianne Dubuc

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

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The Farmer and the Clown – Marla Frazee

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

Favorite Adventures:

Three Bears in a Boat – David Soman

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

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett

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

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Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

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

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

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Little Elliot in the Big City – Mike Curato

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

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 Sparky – Jenny Offill

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

Favorite Family Stories

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Nana in the City – Lauren Castillo

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

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The Troublemaker – Lauren Castillo

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

Favorite Thought – Provoking

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The Promise – Nicola Davies

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

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I Know a Bear -Mariana Ruiz Johnson

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

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

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

Favorite Wordless

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Fox’s Garden – Princesse CamCam

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

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Flora and the Penguin – Molly Idle

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

Favorite Mindful/ Gratitude Books

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100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

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

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Breathe – Scott Magoon

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

Favorite Author

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

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

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

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

Picture Book Month – Celebrating my favorite PB’s for Intermediate/Middle Grades

IMWAYR                      b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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

“A children’s story that can be enjoyed only by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” —C.S. Lewis

Are picture books are not just for Primary students?  No, no, no!  In fact, there are MANY picture books far too sophisticated and complex for younger students.  Over the years, I have been astounded and moved by the rich conversations and deep thinking that emerges from sharing these books with older students.  They also include many powerful themes with topics that link to content areas.   I love using picture books to model different comprehension strategies and the fact that they are shorter in length means that I can read them for single lessons.

Soooo… today I am happy to celebrate my favorite picture books for your older readers…

Voices in the Park

Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a brilliant author/illustrator and this is one of my favorites of his.  I love the way he combines sparse text and detailed illustrations to tell his story, while always leaving spaces for our thinking.  I often use his books to practice inferringVoices in the Park follows four different narrative voices  (depicted by Browne’s signature gorilla characters) as they visit the same park one day.  What makes this book special is that, although at first glance it appears a simple story, it explores many adult themes including poverty, class and diversity.  Anthony uses different “voices”, font, language, body language, color and backgrounds to represent the different characters.  This is a book with many layers – and a perfect invitation for close and careful reading. 

Flotsam

Flotsam – David Wiesner

David Wiesner’s known for his highly inventive, creative wordless picture books.  This book earned him the Caldecott in 2007.   In in this story, a young boy, while searching for  flotsams (any floating object washed up on shore) on the beach, discovers an old-fashioned underwater camera.  The roll of film inside reveals some remarkable and magical surprises!  Breath-taking illustrations that can be poured over again and again.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with older students.  Delightful!

Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl – Sara Pennypacker

This book is based on a true event that happened in China in 1953 during the rule of dictator Mao Tse-Tung when he “declared war” on the sparrows.  Over a 3 day period, he ordered every person in china (women, children, the elderly) to take to the streets and make as much noise as possible to scare away the sparrows.  The result was horrific, as the sparrows were so frightened by the noise that they had heart attacks and fell down dead from the sky.   This event led to a famine that killed between 20-30 million Chinese over the next 5 years.  This is the story of a young girl who saves 7 sparrows and hides them in her barn.  This book would be a wonderful anchor to introduce students to different forms of government.

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody’s Apples – Madonna

Madonna’s re-telling of an ancient proverb is one I often use to practice how sometimes a book can “transform” or change our thinking in some way.  The story centers around Mr. Peabody, a popular teacher and baseball coach in the small town of Happville.  When one of the children on his team witnesses what he believes is Mr. Peabody stealing an apple from a local deli, he begins to spread the rumours that his coach is a thief.  This book has stimulated a great many thoughtful classroom conversations about the consequences of spreading false rumours.   Lauren Long’s illustrations are amazing – especially the last page… “What can you infer from those few leftover floating feathers?”

Bully

Bully – Patricia Polacco

The amazing Patricia Polacco targets middle school students in this excellent book.  While there are many books about school bullying, this is the first I’ve read that focuses specifically on cyber and facebook bullying.  This is an important book to share and discuss with your middle school students – and a great book for practicing making connections. 

The Stamp Collector

The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier

Wow – this thoughtful book is truly beautiful – to read and to look at. A book that celebrates the power of stories and how they bind us together and set us free.  This is the story of a two friends – one grows up to be a prison guard, the other a writer imprisoned for something he writes.  Great to explore issues of government oppression and freedom of speech with older children. This book is haunting – it will stay with you long after the book is finished. 

Fox

Fox – Margaret Wild

This book is dark, disturbing and haunting –  definitely NOT for younger students.  A magpie with a burnt wing, a one-eyed dog and a jealous fox.  Even after the book is finished, it will stay with you for a long time.  I have had amazing journal responses from students after reading this book – so many unanswered questions.  The word choices, the art, the story – by far one of the BEST picture books in my intermediate collection!

The Arrival

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a stunning wordless graphic picture book.   Shaun Tan captures the experience of an immigrant brilliantly.  The story follows the journey of a man leaving his family and his home country to his arrival in confusing new world.  The reader experiences the fears and challenges of this man as he tries to make his way in a new land, unfamiliar with the language and customs.  It is a surprisingly moving story of hope – perfect for questioning and inferring. 

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom – Shane Evans

The story of the underground railway, told through the eyes of voices of the slaves.  While there are few words on each page, the reader is left to infer much of the story.  As the slaves begin to “find the light”, so too, do the illustrations become brighter.  I love using sharing the words of the poem with students first without telling them the title or showing them the pictures and invite them to infer the possible meaning of “Freedom”

The Promise

The Promise – Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies is one of my favorite Nonfiction picture book writers so I was excited to see this book when it came out last year.  It is a “pay it forward” type of story  of hope, of renewal, of promise.  In a colorless city where the people have become as ugly as their surroundings, a young girl steals a bag from an old woman and makes a promise to plant what is inside the bag… acorns.   As trees begin to grow, green joy is spread throughout the desolate city and others are inspired to also do some planting of their own. The mixed media artwork  takes the reader from darkness to light as the change in the girl also begins to change the world around her.  I love Nicola Davies simple, direct language and message. 

The Composition

The Composition – Antonio Skarmeta

Wow – this powerful picture book for older students was originally published in Spanish.  It tells the story of Pedro, who lives in a police state and is forced to choose between his own family and the state.  One day,  a policeman comes into Pedro’s class and asks the students to write a composition about what their families do at night. The pressure on children to betray their own parents brings fear and terror to Pedro and his classmates;  many know their parents meet at night in secret and are planning some kind of a revolt.   I love to pause and ask the students – what would you do?  A  final note explains what it’s like to live under a dictatorship.

Just a Dream

Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is a master story teller.   He seems to tell a story by not telling us the story!  In other words, he crafts his stories carefully to allow spaces for our thinking.  His books are my “go to” books for teaching and practicing inferring with intermediate students.  While ANY book by Chris Van Allsburg could be on this list, I chose Just A  Dream because of it’s subtle but important message about the environment.

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful – Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan provides us with a glimpse into his childhood of bullying and ridicule through this powerful book adaption of his poem.   Raw, heartfelt and inspirational – his words bring hope for all those who have been bullied.  This is a must share with your middle school students.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite picture books to use with Intermediate and Middle school students?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, Reading Power, Transform, wordless

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