Tag Archives: Steve Jenkins

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

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

Canada – Year By Year – Elizabeth MacLeod

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

Best in Snow – April Pulley Sayre

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

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

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

The Darkest Dark  – Chris Hadfield

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

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Fabulous Frogs – Martin Jenkins

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

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

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

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

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

Giant Squid – Candace Flemming

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

Metropolis – Benoit Tardif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Polar Bear – Jenni Desmond

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

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

What are your favorites?    

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

Nonfiction 10 for 10 – 2015! Favorite NF Concept Books

 

          I’m excited to participate in my second Nonfiction 10 for 10 event celebrating fantastic nonfiction picture books. Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this.

Last year, I organized my Nonfiction 10 for 10 book list around Reading Power strategies.  You can read my post here.  This year, I have been particularly interested in Nonfiction books that help children to understand big concepts.  These books often create a WOW, while at the same time, help readers to “get their heads around” challenging ideas such as size, numbers and time.  So my Nonfiction 10-for-10 list this year focuses on  my top ten Nonfiction Concept books. 

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1. As An Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

Concept:  Change over time

This inventive book tracks 200 years of the life of an oak tree from 1775 – present day.  Each page shows a different year, displayed on a time line at the bottom of the page, while detailed  illustrations show how the landscape, animals and people around the tree changes over time.  Intriguing and transforming!

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                                          2.  If – A Mind Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers – David J. Smith              

Concept:  big Ideas; big number; scale; measurement

This amazing book helps children (and adults!) understand the concept of scale.  David Smith takes hard-to-imagine ideas and compares them to everyday things that we can see and are familiar with.    “If the solar system was laid out on a football field and the sun was a grapefruit”.   Other concepts Smith looks at are the size of the universe, ocean, and continents, history of the world, economics and food. This book is an excellent reference with many links to science and social studies, as well as a great one for visualizing.

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3. If the World Were a Village- David J. Smith

Concept:  Global Awareness

An eye-opening look at the world.  David Smith helps readers understand the concept of our “global village” by condensing the world’s population of 6.8 billion to a village of 100 people.  I’m not mathematically inclined but even I can understand concepts in relation to 100!  World facts such as nationalities, languages, ages, and religions all put in perspective in this fascinating book.

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4. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth – Rochelle Strauss

Concept:  Water – water cycle, use, access, conservation

A beautifully illustrated book that highlights the importance of earth’s water and how it is essential to our survival, as well as the survival of all living things including plants and animals.   It includes information on water usage, pollution, conservation, and awareness.

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5. Just a Second – Steve Jenkins

Concept:  Time

What is time?  How do we measure it?  This brilliant book by my favorite nonfiction author explores the concept of time and how to think about it in different ways.  He uses events in the natural world to explain what can happen in a second, a minute, an hour.   Classic Jenkins – engaging and thought-provoking.

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6. Living Sunlight:  How Plants Bring Earth to Life – Molly Bang

Concept: photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a daunting concept to understand and to teach.  This book makes the process both understandable and magical.  Through a blend of poetry, science and beautiful visuals, we learn the importance of sun in our lives.  Beautiful and brilliant. 

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7 No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart

Concept:  Interconnectedness in our Ecosystem

 I first saw this book on Carrie Gelson’s blog and have been a fan of it ever since.  This is an amazing book that explains the inter-relationship of all the animals that help us get chocolate.  Readers learn about how intricately nature is connected through the complicated process of harvesting cocoa beans.   Detailed and interesting illustrations and two amusing bookworms who add funny sidebar comments add to the delight of this book.  Who knew there were so many animals involved in the making of chocolate?

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8. Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth– Rochelle Straus

Concept:  Biodiversity, ecosystems, classification

On the “tree of life” – humans count for just one of 1, 750,000 leaves.  WOW!  There are millions of other life forms which with which we share this tree – but what are they and how are they organized?   This book presents how life on earth is classified into five kingdoms, or “branches” of the tree; each branch is filled with thousands of “leaves”.  This book will make you feel VERY small – but it’s a fascinating introduction to biodiversity. 

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9. Gravity – Jason Chin

Concept:  Gravity

Jason Chin is a master at taking complex subjects and making them accessible to young readers.  He uses very simple text and life-like illustrations  (almost makes you feel like you are floating in space!)  to introduce children to the concept of gravity.  Innovative and beautiful. 

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10. How Big is It? – Ben Hillman

Concept:  Size

Yes, these pictures are photo shopped!  But the technical term is juxtaposition and Ben Hillman uses it brilliantly to teach the concept of size by comparing incredibly large items to ordinary everyday items.  This book definitely has the “WOW” factor and the large illustrations will have your class begging you to turn the page to see “the next one”!

Honorable mentions:

Tiny Creatures – The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies    Concept:  Microbes

Lifetime – The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives –  Lola M. Schaefer    Concept:  Numbers

Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard –  Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld  Seasonal change

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest – Steve Jenkins   Concept: Extreme environments, perspective, scale

 

Thanks for stopping by!   What are your favorite “concept” books to share with your students?

 

 

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Nonfiction 10 for 10, Picture Book

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

IMWAYR

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

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

FAVORITE ANIMAL BOOKS

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

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

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Creature Features – Steve Jenkins

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

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Animalium – Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

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

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Mama Build a Little Nest – Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

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

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

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

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

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

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A Baby Elephant in the Wild – Caitlin O’Connell

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

FAVORITE BIOGRAPHIES

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Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

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

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Shakleton’s Journey – William Grill

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

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Kathryn Gibb Davis

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

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

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

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Families Around The World – Margriet Ruurs

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

FAVORITE CONCEPT BOOKS:

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

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

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 Tiny Creatures:  The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies

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

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Gravity – Jason Chin

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

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

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

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Clever Concept Books – Jane Brocket

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

FAVORITE POETRY BOOKS:

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

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

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

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

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Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold – Joyce Sidman

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? A sloth, a penguin, a fish and a few birds!

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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

The first weekend of spring break had me pouring over several recently released picture books!   Here are a few of my favorites…

Sparky!

Sparky – Jenny Ofill

 I loved the humor in Jenny Ofill’s previous books (17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 13 Experiments That Failed) and this book did not disappoint.  A young girl begs her mother for a pet and her exasperated mother insists that the pet needs to be one that does not need to be walked, fed or cleaned.  The determined girl heads to the library (love this part!) and with the help of the librarian (loved this part too!) researched a pet to meet her mother’s criteria – a SLOTH!  But when the mail order pet arrives, it isn’t good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything.  But Sparky is irresistible and I found myself wanting to mail order a sloth for myself!  The illustrations by Chris Appelhans were a perfect fit to this touching story.

Flight School – Lita Judge

Well, I fell in love with Sparky the sloth in the last book – and now I’m in love with this penguin!  This penguin claims to have “the soul of an eagle” and wants desperately to be able to fly so he registers for Flight School.  After many failed attempts and plunges into the sea, his teacher (love this part!) helps him derive a plan to help him fly, if only for a few short seconds.  This is a book about determination and dreaming big, and those who help along the way.  I LOVED the illustrations in this book!  Lita Judge captured the characters of so many different land and seabirds with lively colors and exhaggerated features.  Soft blues, sea greens and sand browns – beautiful pictures and a beautiful story.  (T-T connection to Learning to Fly – by Sebastian Meschenmoser)

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The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan

This is a poignant story about friendship and a powerful introduction to the cycle of life.  There is also a celebration of story woven into the story which I loved.  A sparrow and dandelion meet and become friends.  The dandelion explains that she used to be beautiful and bright and sunny yellow but now she has few pods left.  Her fear is that with one big wind, her pods will disappear.  Her new friend sparrow helps her write her story in the dirt and Dandelion tells Sparrow all the things she has seen and loved.  This is such a beautiful story (I got a bit teary when I read it)  and one I could see being used with both young and older children.  The illustrations are lovely.

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale

Poor Doreen – A Fishy Tale – Sally Lloyd Jones

Doreen is a fish with a very optimistic disposition.  On the way to visit her cousin, who just gave birth to 159 babies, she nibbles on a dragonfly, which ends up being bait and catches a ride on a fishing pole.  In spite of her every optimistic outlook, Doreen is also a wee bit clueless – and so does not realize that she is in a dire situation.  There is humor as the reader is “in” on the situation that Doreen clearly does not seem to be aware.  Comical, fun and a character whom I admire because she sees the world with a “glass half full” approach.

Mama Built a Little Nest

Mama Built A Little Nest – Jennifer Ward

I can’t resist any book written or illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  This book is a delightful exploration of the diverse range of different nests that birds build for their babies.  Who knew there were so many different kinds of nests made from so many different things?  This book has playful, fun rhymes and of course, filled with Jenkins trademark paper collage illustrations.  A wonderful book for bird lovers (that’s you, Carrie!) and Jenkins lovers (that would be me!)

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? – Rita Gray

Two children wander through the countryside listening to calls of common birds and wonder why the nesting robin does not make a sound.  The children carry on through the woods and begin to identify different calls from birds ranging from the chickadee to the blue jay.   While the previous book made us aware of the many different types of nests there are, this book introduces us to the wide variety of bird calls.  I found myself trying to replicate the calls myself!   The “Word with the Bird” Q-and-A at the back of the book explains in detail why the robin is silent while hatching her eggs and answers many other questions about the role of father bird and what happens to the babies when they leave the nest. 

Aviary Wonders, Inc – Kate Samworth

Wow – this book is gorgeous!  exquisite! remarkable!  It is an imaginary (sci-fi) mock catalogue of bird parts to choose from for the purpose of assembling your own bird.  The illustrations are stunning and some of the sidebar comments hilarious.  But the underlying tone of this book is rather somber – as it is meant to be a thought-provoking look at what happens birds become extinct.  My friend Carrie Gelson posted a detailed review of this book on her blog last week.  You can read it here:  There’s A Book For That.

Peggy – Anna Walker
Peggy gets an unexpected adventure in the city when a big gust of wind sweeps her up and drops here there.  She soon enjoys the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar place but begins to miss home.  She cleverly devises a plan to get home.  What I loved most about this book was the illustrations.  The text is very simple but the detailed illustrations tell the story beautifully.  They are soft, muted and pale but fit Peggy perfectly!
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)
Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson
Oooooo…. this is a FANTASTIC book!  I am reading it with my 13 yr. old son and I am not sure who is enjoying it more.  It is a YA-Sci-fi-futuristic superhero-fast-paced-compelling-thrill-ride!  I’m embarrassed to say I had not heard of this writer before (sorry!) but I am most impressed by the writing so far.  I was hooked half-way through the prologue – and felt as if I were watching a movie!  Can’t wait to read more!
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The Glassblower’s Children – Maria Gripe
I came across this book in the library and was drawn to the title and the etching illustration on the cover.  This fairy tale by Swedish writer Maria Gripe was published in 1973 was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award the following year.  This story has all the components you could ask for in a fairy tale – A hard working glassblower and his wife,  their two children, a fortune teller, an evil governess whose only wish is to have children.  But it is more than a fairy tale – it is thought provoking and poignant with incredibly exquisite writing.  A little gem that I’m so glad I discovered!  It would make a wonderful class read aloud or a quiet read by the fire.
What have you been reading this week?

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

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!

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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

It’s Monday, What are you reading? – Favorite Books of 2013

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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

It’s been an amazing year of books!  So many great books were published this year that have  become “favorites” that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few.  Which books did I hug extra tightly or put under my pillow just to keep them with me a little longer?

Inspired by my friend and book blogger extraordinaire Carrie Gelson,  I have decided to choose 13 books (for 2013) and organize them into categories I read the most of:  picture books, nonfiction books and novels.

Picture books:

1. Journey – Aaron Becker

Mesmerizing watercolor illustrations that take the reader on a journey of adventure, self discovery, courage, hope and unexpected friendship.  This book will likely top many 2013 lists and it certainly tops mine.

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2.  The Man With the Violin – Kathy Stinson

This book, based on a true event, celebrates the power of music and reminds us that in the business of our lives, we need to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  (also 3 cheers for Canadian authors)

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3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

Oh, how I love clever  books!   Oh, how I love a book that makes me laugh out loud and wish I had written it myself!  Oh, how I love a book that I read and immediately start thinking of ways I will be able to use it in my classroom.  This book has all my loves tied up together.

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4. Ben Rides On – Matt Davies

Ben loves his bike.   Ben’s bike is bullied away.  Ben figures out a way to get his bike back.  There is tenderness amidst the lightheartedness and Ben is my hero.

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5. The Dark – Lemony Snicket

 This is the story of how dear Little Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. My oh my,  there is something magical about this book.  Personification at its best.

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6. Water in the Park – Emily Jenkins

Community, neighborhood, water, time;  From dawn to dusk we witness the comings and goings in a park. Simple. Beautiful.

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7. Silver Buttons – Bob Graham

(or “The Silver Button” )

The celebration of a single moment and all that happens – from one moment in a an apartment room to that same moment all over the world.  Extraordinary.  Brilliant.  Hugging this book.

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8. Hello, My Name is Ruby – Philip C. Stead

I fell in love with Ruby this year.  She is all that represents fearlessness, curiosity, courage, adventure, wisdom all wrapped up in a sweet little bird body who asks questions.  By far my favorite character of 2013.

Hello, My Name Is Ruby

9.  The Matchbox Diary – Paul Fleischman

This book is a celebration of memories, keepsakes, treasures, life stories and relationships.  A grandfather opens his matchboxes of memories, his life story and his heart to his granddaughter.   My favorite “connect” book of the year.

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Nonfiction:

10.  The World is Waiting for You – Barbara Kerley

Following your passion amidst all that the world has to offer.  Imaginative and inspiring.

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11. Walk this World – Jenny Broom

A celebration of the everyday similarities and differences that exist between cultures around the world.  A new country on every page – with windows to peek under and many surprises to discover!  Wow!  An adventure from cover to cover!

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

Carpe Diem, seize the day, appreciate the moment, be present, be grateful, give back.  How could anyone NOT want to share this message with children.  Love x a lot for this one.

What Does it Mean to Be Present?

12. The Animal Book – Steve Jenkins

Happiness is a new Steve Jenkins book.  Happiness is being amazed by his signature collage illustrations and the intriguing facts he wows us with.  Happiness is adding this book to my Nonfiction Book list for 2013.

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Novels:

The Runaway King – Jennifer A. Nielsen

When a grade 6 boy tears up with joy because his back order Scholastic Book order copy of The Runaway King has just come in – you know it is a great book.  This follow-up is equally as good as the first.  I will get my box of Kleenex ready for the 3rd installment!

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Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein

Funny, crafty, twists and turns, puzzles and adventures.  Some were less impressed with the “too close for comfort” to legendary Charlie Bucket but both my students and I LOVED it!

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Wake Up Missing – Kate Messner

Concussions, Treatment centers, stolen identities and friendships = fast paced, page turner, grab-the-book -from-your-son’s-room-while-he’s-sleeping-because- you-can’t-wait-to-find-out-what-happens -book!

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The Real Boy – Anne Ursu

A magical  fantasy –  beautiful, enchanting, mysterious, sad, hopeful.  This one ended up under my pillow.

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Well, there are my top books for 2013.  (And for anyone who happened to be counting – I believe I went way over my original “13 picks for 2013” by several titles!)  It was, indeed, a very good year for books!  What books did you celebrate in 2013?

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Nonfiction, Novels, Picture Book