Tag Archives: nonfiction

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)

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 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? 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

Summer Reading – Day 24 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! Compare and Contrast!

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday!
As I continue working on the draft of my book, I am finding many new anchor books which model particular nonfiction text structures. Today I’d like to share some of my new discoveries that focus on the structure of compare and contrast. Compare and contrast, as with all nonfiction text structures, has its own unique set of language features that students need to become familiar with. So it’s important to immerse them in books that include this language. Here is a list of some of my new favorite finds!

The Who Would Win? series by Jerry Pallotta is a head to head comparison of two similar animals.  (I had flashes of TV show “The Deadliest Warrior” ).  There are seven books in this series and I think you can order them as a set from Amazon.  Reading level is about grade 3 and these would certainly be perfect for as read-alouds.  Lots of interesting facts leaving the reader to decide for themselves – who would win?

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In another similar series by Isabel Thomas, pairs of similar animals are put up in a head to head battle.   What makes these books appealing is the point system that is included.  Animals receive points for survival skills such as strength, size, hunting ability, and camouflage. At the end of the book, the points are added up to discover the overall winner.   Lots of great predictions could be made and kids could award their own points for animal skills.

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If you prefer to have shorter compare and contrast passages to read and only one book to buy – then you will love What’s the Difference by Judy Diehl.  In it, she compares and contrast 10 animal look-alikes including: crow and raven, alligator and crocodile, wasp and bee, rabbit and hare, donkey and horse.  I like the simplicity of the shorter passages and have used this book many times with children when teaching how to create a Venn diagram. 61WZSAGASKL._SL500_AA300_[1]

While comparing and contrasting animals is great way to introduce the text structure to students, there are many different topics we can use for comparisons.  In Julie Cummin’s book Country Kid, City Kid, she compares the daily life of two children who live in different communities. And while this book may not be classified as nonfiction, I would certainly use it as an anchor book for the compare and contrast text structure.  I like how she begins with the obvious differences but then begins to infer how many similarities these two children actually have. 51QSGDX6H0L._SX260_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_[1]

In a similar way, Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw compares the life of a boy living in America with a boy living in India.  These two boys are pen pals and the story is presented through their post cards and letters to each other.  I really liked how this book compares these boys daily lives through their letters, leaving readers an opportunity to infer.  I also think it would be an excellent anchor book to launch a pen pal project!

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Saving the best for last, The Sun, the Wind and the Rain by Lisa Westburg Peters is one of those lost treasures.  I debated whether to include this book as I do believe it is out of print, but a visit to your local library or used book store might just be the answer.  I LOVE this book!  The cover and title are relatively deceiving but it is one of those books that I want to hug because within the cover, you have so many different teaching opportunities.

This book is a basic introduction to geology and how mountains are formed.  Elizabeth, a small girl, is imitating nature by building a mountain with sand on the beach. It is simple and beautiful in its description of the evolution of a mountain in comparison to a simple activity on a beach.  I can see this book being used to teach land formation, erosion, evolution and how weather combines to create force to change the earth.   In terms of my purpose, it is an excellent example of compare and contrast and in my search for anchor books – I believe I have discovered a hidden treasure!

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I hope you found some new treasures to add to your nonfiction collection! Please let me know if you have come across any great compare and contrast anchor books that I can add to my list!  Happy Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday, everyone!  For more great lists, check out Kid Lit Frenzy.

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Filed under New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 23 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – What do you want to be when you grow up?

Barbara Kerley, a photographer for the National Geographic, is one of my favorite nonfiction authors and I’m excited to be highlighting her most recent book today, along with a few of my other favorites, in my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!

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What do you want to be when you grow up?  This is the question that many children are asked but most aren’t able to answer with any definitive response.  In her latest book The World Is Waiting for You, Barbara Kerley poses this question, but then invites children to explore and celebrate the possibilities by considering their talents and interests and linking them up to professions.  For example – jumping in puddles can inspire scuba diving; dirty hands can lead to digging for dinosaur bones; star-gazing can inspire astronauts.  This book includes inspirational quotes centered around the three core principals of National Geographic’s mission:  adventure, exploration and discovery.

What I love about Barbara Kerley’s books is that they are so simple, yet so profound.  I was overcome with inspiration when I read this book – it made me want to weep with gratitude and all I wanted to do was hug Barbara Kerley and thank her for writing it.  I can’t wait to read it to my students and have them explore their own possibilities.

For anyone who may be interested in more Barbara Kerley books – here are some of the others I have in my collection:  A Cool Drink of Water; A Little Peace; You and Me Together – Moms, Dads and Kids Around the World; A Day in the Life. 

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All of her books are filled with gorgeous images – highlighting the diversity of culture, families and daily life from around the world.  She includes a map and location and background of each photograph at the back of each book.  I have used her books so often for many Reading Power lessons (Connect and Transform).  The books are excellent for read-alouds because the photographs are large, colorful and captivating.  There is little text included but the photographs tell far more than words ever could.  Opening one of her books is like taking a trip around the world without having to leave your chair.

I hope you are inspired to include at least one Barbara Kerley book in your Nonfiction Collection!

 

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Filed under Connect, New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Transform

Summer Reading – Day 20! – Nonfiction Wednesday

I have am happy to be participating my first Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!  (I hope I am not breaking any rules if I focus on Nonfiction Poetry) I was first introduced to Marilyn Singer in a Children’s Literature course I was taking at university.  I remember the Professor, Ron Jobe, sharing a new poetry book by Marilyn Singer called “Turtle in July” (published in 1989 – Yikes!  Am I that old?).  He read aloud the title poem and I was fascinated by how she was able to so effortlessly weave factual information into a simple poem. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

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Over the last 2 decades, she has written over 30 poetry books (much of which is based on nature), picture books, novels and nonfiction books.  She gained much attention and earned several awards  in 2010 for her remarkable and unique writing of Fairy Tales Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.  If you have never read this – it is an incredibly clever collections of poems that can be read both forwards and backwards.  Amazing!  Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, the follow up, was released this past February.

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Now, on to her Nonfiction books…..I am drawn to her poetry collections and nonfiction books that center around nature and animals.  I’m particularly fond of her poetry books Fireflies at Midnight and The Company Of Crows where she writes poems in the voices of different animals (and birds).   I have used both books as anchors in both reading and writing lessons.  In reading, we practice inferring information about the animals from the poems.  In writing,  I have used them as models for writing with voice.  Both books have inspired amazing animal poetry in my classroom over the years.    Students choose an animal, research its habits and behavior, then write a poem in first person, trying to capture both the “voice” and personality of the animal.

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I recently came across her latest poetry collection called A Strange Place to Call Home (published in 2012) In it, she writes poems about the most dangerous habitats on earth and the animals who live there.  The book is illustrated by Caldecott winner and honor recipient Ed Young.  His illustrations are gorgeous and he uses a torn paper  collage style similar to Steve Jenkins.  Singer uses many different poetic forms in the book, including haiku and sonnets,  as she captures 14 relatively unknown creatures and their unusual homes.  (There is information on each creature included at the back of the book)   Through her unique poetic style, Singer is able to capture so many interesting facts, often through sparse text.  Students will be fascinated to learn about these unusual creatures and I could see how this could be used as an excellent “launch” into a research project.     The book could also be a great way to launch a Science Unit on Extreme Environments or how animals adapt to their environment.

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A Strange Place to Call Home

Where it’s dark                                                                                                              Where it’s deep                                                                                                            Where’s it’s stormy                                                                                                       Where it’s steep                                                                                                               Where the rain rarely falls                                                                                                                                      or the water always races                                                                                     They survive                                                                                                                   strive to thrive                                                                                                                  in a world of risky places

– Marilyn Singer

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Filed under Infer, New Books, Nonfiction, Poetry