Tag Archives: Picture book

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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Summer Reading – Day 17! Crayon Revolt!

16101018[1]The Day the Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by the great Oliver Jeffers is a laugh out loud book about what happens one day when Duncan goes to colour and discovers his crayons have quit!  Instead of crayons, he discovers a stack of letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their complaints and reasons why they are quitting:  Black is fed up of being used just for outlining; Blue has been worn to a stump and is  tired of only being used to color oceans;  Green is satisfied with his workload of coloring trees, crocodiles and frogs but wants Duncan to stop the fighting between red and orange.  Beige is tired of being treated as a “second” to Brown.  Sooo funny – for adults as well as kids!  Each page features the actual letter from each crayon, expressing themselves in their own unique way and accompanied by some of Duncan’s drawings.  This book is original, clever and hilarious!  (and it makes me jealous that I didn’t think of the idea first!)

9780399255373_IL_1[1]Now many things make me happy but finding a book that fits PERFECTLY with a lesson is high up there on my happy meter! And it just so happens that I am knee deep in writing my new book (Nonfiction Writing Power) and searching for anchor books for different forms of nonfiction writing.  Hello?  Could there be a more perfect book for PERSUASION?  I got so excited when I first saw this book and realized it was written as a collection of persuasive letters (who cares if the letters are written by crayons!) I did a happy dance right there in the book store! Each letter models a form of persuasive writing that expresses an opinion with the intention of promoting action or change from the reader. I’m already visualizing students choosing the voice of a crayon and writing their own letters!  I can’t wait to share this book at my workshops!  I’m predicting it will be on the top of every teacher’s “must have” list by the end of September.  (I hope they printed lots of copies!)

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Summer Reading – Day 15! Less is More!

Today’s theme is STUFF!  And the fact that many of us have too much of it.  These three books will likely invite many connections from some of our students and all three have the same important message about what is most valuable.

11119532[2]     Stuff,  by Margie Palatini, is about a bunny named Edward.  Edward has far too much STUFF.  His house is full and his friends no longer want to come over because Edward is more interested in his stuff than them.  Eventually, his friends come to his rescue and help him sort, organize, donate and encourage him to keep only the STUFF that is important.  This book is humorous but the message it shares would stimulate some good discussions about materialism and what is most valuable.

0-439-49029-4     Too Many Toys by David Shannon tells a similar tale.  I made a lot of connections to this book!  (character’s name is  Spencer -my son’s name – and stepping barefoot on Lego pieces!)  Spencer’s mom eventually gives him a box to fill with toys to “give away”.  Easier said than done!  Spencer is faced with the challenge of choices – which toys are most important to him?  I am a huge David Shannon fan – he always manages to capture moments that so many of us can connect to and his illustrations are hilarious.  Another great book to share with the message that more toys does not make more fun!

12993697[1]      More – by I.C. Springman takes a more of sophisticated look at materialism that I recommend for grades 3 and up.  Through stunning illustrations and very little text, this book invites the question – when is MORE more than enough?  Magpie’s collection, that starts with one marble, gets out of hand as he begins filling his nest with more and more bits and pieces.  Eventually the weight of all his stuff results in the tree collapsing.  His mice friends try to help him realize that he simply has more than he needs.    In this material world we live in, where many children want more and more “shiny stuff”, it is a good reminder of when it is time to say “enough”.  This book  has very few words but a strong message – a perfect combination for practicing “INFERING”!

 Live simply so others can simply liveMahatma Gandhi  (I love this quote and it seems rather fitting to include it here)

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Summer Reading – Day 14! What words would you buy?

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Today’s book is in my top 3 favorite picture books of this year. Phileas’s Fortune: A Story about Self-Expression by Agnes de Lestrade is a remarkable book. I still remember being overwhelmed with emotion the first time I read it.  (I think I actually hugged it)  It is also a book that invites SO many questions and will linger with you long after you finish it.

The story begins:  There is a place where words are made in a factory.  In order to speak words, you need to buy them.  Now let’s stop right there and think about that for a moment.  You cannot speak any word unless you buy it.  What are you wondering?  This is exactly the conversation I have had with many students when reading this book.  Here are some of the questions kids have asked:  How much do the words cost?  Are some words more expensive than others?   What happens if you can’t afford to buy all the words you want to say?  Do words ever go on sale?  Do you have to swallow the word in order to say it?  Do teachers get a discount?   (ha! – I laughed at that one!)

And so the scene is set for our main character Phileas – whose family cannot afford to buy many words.  Sometimes, Phileas and his friends go up to the rooftop of their apartment to try to catch old words in butterfly nets.  Some of these words he says to his parents at suppertime and some he saves.  Phileas is in love with Cybele, a little girl who lives in his apartment.  He wants to express his feelings to her but he can’t afford the words.  But on her birthday, Phileas shares with her three words that he has been saving.  But of course you must read the book to find out what the words are!

This book is SOOOO beautiful – the story itself, the charming illustrations and the many themes that it includes – love, friendship, bullying, self-expression.  But the most powerful message I took from this story is this:  words are important and powerful, but it is really the character behind the voice of those words that matter most.

This book is a gift for the soul.

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Summer Reading – Day 13 – Friends who live in a book!

Please be patient with me as I am trying to navigate through my own blog (I’m trying to re-configure it but am still at the “what’s the difference between a post, a page, a parent and a tag!” stage)

But I don’t want to miss out in my daily book recommendation so here’s today’s top pick:  my most recent favorite friendship book!

16101066[1]       The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman gets double thumbs up and a big fist pound.  Loved it!  The illustrations are AMAZING and the story not only is about friendship (between an introvert and an extrovert) but also touches on adventure, courage, taking risks and moving out of your comfort zone.

Fish and Snail live in a book.  Every day, Fish ventures out to other books and comes back to tell the story to Snail.  After visiting a pirate book one day, Fish is so excited that he insists Snail join him on his next book-visiting adventure.  Snail, who has a few Scaredy Squirrel tendencies, prefers to live in the safety of his own book.   An argument ensues and eventually, Snail needs to decide what is more important – facing his fear or possibly losing his friend.

The writing is straightforward and simple, yet fits the story perfectly.  It is an excellent book for sharing with children and would promote a lot of conversations about friendship, taking risks and accepting differences, not to mention a discussion about how fun it would be to live in a book!  What book would you like to live in?

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