Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 10.28.15 I'm reading what you're reading


I am excited to join Alyson Beecher and other friends in this weekly challenge.  Finding great nonfiction picture books isn't a challenge anymore, there are so many wonderful books to be read now!  The challenge is sharing them with as many people as possible so they can find this wealth of literature to share with our young readers.  Thanks to Aly for starting this weekly link-up and thanks to all who join in!  See all of the posts at kidlitfrenzy.

I'm so glad Alyson started this Wednesday meme because as a result, I've read so many wonderful nonfiction picture books.  When a nonfiction topic comes up, I often have several nonfiction picture books that could be read to students to help them understand the topic.  I'm always on the lookout for more, and I have everyone who participates on this day to help me.

Today, I'm spotlighting some books that you've read.  It helps me when I see a book mentioned over and over.  It's a book I know I want to read, and sometimes, when it doesn't fall in my radar the first time, it's good to see it mentioned again.  If you haven't discovered these yet, check them out!

The Blue Whale
The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
What stands out to me in this book is the way the text and illustrations work together.  If you read the text by itself, it really is just a collection of facts about the blue whale.  It's the illustrations that make this book stand out.  Instead of photographs, which would really make it just another book about the blue whale, it has illustrations of a little boy and the blue whale.  The text and illustrations work together to partly tell a story, but partly to illustrate what the text is teaching the reader, but maybe in a more fun manner.  This book really is a clever way of introducing a nonfiction subject to a reader.

Daylight Starlight Wildlife
Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor
Minor contrasts an animal that is out and about during the daylight, with a similar animal that is nocturnal by nature.   The reader is often left to infer why the animal is out during that particular time, but by using picture and text clues, they can often surmise why.  Of course, Minor's beautiful artwork accompanies the text - I find there is often its own story told within the pages of his work.

Woodpecker Wham!
Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre
Another compilation between Sayre and Steve Jenkins.  This book spotlights the woodpecker, an animal I know mostly through cartoons!  While I liked the rolling words of Sayre's text, they really didn't inform me much about the woodpecker.  The reader is often left to infer what Sayre is trying to teach us about the woodpecker's habits.  I think young readers will have a harder time pulling out the information.  The back matter is full of information, it's organized by category and the reader will learn a lot about what is missing from the text.  But I know many young readers get bored with too much information, so it would be hard to read everything.  Eat Like a Bear is still my favorite Sayre/Jenkins team effort.

Hummingbirds by Bonnie Bader
My favorite bird, by far, are hummingbirds.  I find them to be fascinating creatures, from their looks, to their speed, to the way they can fly.  What captivated me about this book is the beautiful photography.  I often found myself wondering how in the world they were able to capture some of these photographs of these quick flitting birds!  No back matter in this book, but visually stunning photos.

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl
A Chicken Followed Me Home! by Robin Page
What a wonderful mentor text for writing!  I love how Page organized this - she starts off with the idea that a chicken followed someone home, now what?  Each page is then organized with questions about chickens and taking care of one.  The answer not only answers the question at hand, but discreetly gives the reader information about chickens.  The back matter contains more questions and answers, as well as a chart showing how a fertilized egg develops.
This might be a fun pairing with the middle grade novel Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones.

I'm Trying to Love Spiders
I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton
"I don't like nonfiction."
That's a statement I've heard from students and teachers alike.
But, when you have books like this to share, it's just so fun!
While trying to look at the bright side of spiders - like their "cool superpowers" or how awesome their webs are, or how really only a few have venom that hurt humans - every page or two the author can't help but smoosh a spider.  Sorry, spiders.  It'll take some time.  But it won't take long for the reader to love this book!

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Apparently I had a lot of Steve Jenkins and Robin Page reading to do, since this is the third book that they are mentioned in!
I think the books the two of them collaborate in are just getting better and better.   The organization of this book is so fun.  A how-to book giving advice from the animal kingdom. Genius.  But then the book just gets funny.  Here's an example: 
"How to Woo a Ewe, Like a Mountain Sheep
When two male sheep, or rams, want to impress a ewe, they fight each other.  The victor wins the affections of the female....
Step 5:  Take a break.  If your skull is as thick as a mountain sheep's, you won't suffer any permanent damage.  And if the other guy backs down, you have a new girlfriend."
C'mon, you chuckled at that, right?

Big Red Kangaroo
Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby
This is a wonderful mentor text to show how to merge narrative informational writing with more typical informational writing.  Even if you don't teach anything on this subject, to still use this book just for writer's craft is enough!

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
Tonatiuh's books never disappoint.  
Posada's Day of the Dead skeletons are seen all over the United States.  The bright colors, the skeletons looking like they are up to something that we can never quite figure out - we've seen them in so many places, but what is the history behind them?  And not only the skeletons, the calaveras, but the man behind them - Don Lupe Posada.
Great narrative text and a very comprehensive back matter, this book can be used as a writing mentor text in many, many ways!

So what nonfiction are you reading?  I'll probably read it too!


  1. Oh so many here to love, Michele! I still need to read Funny Bones and Woodpecker Wham, & get a better look at How To Swallow A Pig. I just bought it as a gift for a friend's school, but only glanced through it. I do love Big Red Kangaroo. Like The Emu, the illustrations are so gorgeous. And I'm Trying To Love Spiders is so good to see, plus shares the information well. Thanks for sharing how they will work in the classroom, too!

  2. I love Funny Bones, too! Such an unexpected topic.

  3. What a great collection of nonfiction to ponder. I really want to get my hands on The Blue Whale, it sounds interesting and one to enjoy with students.

  4. Beautiful choices Michele - I am hoping that during Thanksgiving break I can find the ones that I missed so far this year and catch up.

  5. Loved Hummingbirds, The Blue Whale and Funny Bones.