We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading. I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts! To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays! This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups. My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog. The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom!
I read two amazing nonfiction picture books this week that I want to share and encourage (going back to that OLW) everyone to read!
A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
This book starting popping up on Goodreads and IMWAYR blogs this spring. I wanted to see it for myself because I was interested in the concept of the book - a young boy uses his passion for animals to help him with his stuttering disability. This book did not disappoint. I think this book would be a lovely addition to all classrooms because of the conversations that would develop from it.
The author is a stutterer. He gives a brief background about the difficulties he had at school and some of the steps his parents took to help him with this disability. The place where young Alan felt most comfortable was when he was talking to his animals. He made a promise to them that he would always help them. As he grew up, Alan learned techniques to help him with his stutter, but talking to animals was always where he was most comfortable. He went on to study bears and then jaguars. Alan details an encounter with a jaguar where he was able to share a special moment with it.
I think this book has many uses. It's a great first hand account, which we don't always find in nonfiction. The book was written in an easier text than many nonfiction books so younger students will find this book easy to understand and relate to - I think the accessible text will help enrich the conversations young children can have with this text. The passion that Alan felt for animals comes through in his writing and I love that he was able to use this to help him rise above his disability. Conversations can be had about living with a disability, having a passion in life for something, working hard.
The illustrations in this book are also fantastic. They are vibrant at times, and also reflect the solitude of the jungle and forest. They were just as interesting to look at as the story is interesting to follow.
The book that came to mind as I read this one was last year's A Splash of Red. I thought they both had similar qualities, interesting story about a person living with a challenging disability, and a book with unique illustrations. For those reasons, I would say this book could be a 2015 Schneider Family Award and Sibert Award contender.
Watch this video of Alan Rabinowitz talking about his book!
The next book to share with you is a collection of poems. Although the poems are definitely a work of fiction, since poetry is classified in the Dewey Decimal system, I'm adding this to the nonfiction post ;)
Outside the Box by Karma Wilson
This collection of poetry more than once reminded me of the late Shel Silverstein. There were actually a few poems in this book that reminded me of a specific Silverstein gem, it would be fun to go back and compare.
The poems are collected by theme - for example there is a holiday section where each poem is about a holiday. My favorite poem in this part is "Brother's Day" where much like Mother's Day and Father's Day, the young boy feels there should be a Brother's Day. The only one who is not happy about that day is the boy's sister!
These poems made me smile, chuckle and laugh. A few were more poignant than others, most resided on the sillier side of things. All of the poems were told in rhymes, which I think young children are most familiar and usually more comfortable with. Not that they shouldn't be exposed to other types of poetry, but I think young readers are most comfortable with rhyming poems.
A great addition to the poems are the wonderful illustrations the talented Diane Goode adds to the pages! I love looking at her whimsical designs!
These books make great classroom library additions! What nonfiction have you read this week?