Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 3.18.15


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!

Last week's post talked about using chapter book biographies.  This week I'm using picture book biographies, but for an activity that is a bit more specific.  I've noticed that my reading students have a hard time answering the question "what type of character is ____?", this question along with naming character traits or adjectives has proven to be difficult.  Often I get answers that the character "lives with their family" or is "nice".  

Using picture book biographies and turning the activity around a bit, has shown students a way to look at the characters in a new light.

I have found finding descriptive character trait words (beyond the usual nice, a good friend, etc) a difficult task for students.  Instead of starting with character traits, we started with actions.  After reading through pages of a picture book biography, I stop after one or two big pieces of action.  Not necessarily a "fighting" scene, but a part in the biography when the person has done something big in their lives.  We talk about the action of the character, what did they do, how did they do it?  Once they have an understanding of what happened, then we talk about what does that mean for the character?  "Because the character did ______, that shows __{insert describing word}__.  By going in this reverse order, the kids can concentrate on one specific part of the character's life, instead of thinking broadly.  Continue reading the book in this fashion, and students will have several great words to describe the character!  

Along the way, I have found some great picture book biographies to use with students.  Mostly thanks to the bloggers on #IMWAYR and #NFPB2015.  What amazing resources this has been!

Make sure you check these out!

Sixteen Years In Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story
Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Kathryn Russell-Brown

I am Jackie Robinson
I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
Ben Franklin's Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock

Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs
Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan McCarthy

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson


  1. I recognize some of these books, and have read others but they are a great group of interesting nonfiction books for kids. Thanks for sharing them today.

  2. I like the idea of the filling in of that sentence, Michele. She does _______________, and because of that, we know __________________. I like it even for my older students.

  3. I love how you turned it around in order to help children access the material. I plan on using this with my ELLs. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Once again a wonderful lesson. Thank you Michele--you inspire me!

  5. I like this format - makes sense in many ways. Maybe you will share some writing from the students in the future? Hint, hint. Great titles! Most are on my radar or are titles that I have read. Such great variety!

  6. Beautiful titles. Some are familiar to me, some aren't so. I just absolutely love picturebook biographies, and I'm glad you shared this with us this week.