Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 9.23.15 A nfpb Starter Kit


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.

A few weeks ago, Elisabeth Ellington wrote a great post that made a lot of us start thinking.  Her post, A Started Kit for Teachers New to Nonfiction, put together a list of inspiring nonfiction titles that could be used with a wide variety of students.  I loved what she wrote here:

"What does a starter kit need? Representative titles that show the range and diversity of this genre. Books to read independently. Books to read together. Funny books. Serious books. A range of illustration styles. Books to teach writing. Books to teach research. Most of all, books to invite wonder and much more #booklove."

Of course, that started off a chain reaction.  Immediately Carrie Gelson was on board.  Here is her thoughtful post.  

After a little bit of time, I've put my list together.  I organized it by the types of books I would want to have at my fingertips.  This list doesn't cover topics.  I'm not sure any starter list could properly do that.  But I could use this list for all kinds of mentor text reasons. 

I would include this book to show text organization:

Baseball Is . . .
Baseball Is.... by Louise Borden
This book took my breath away the first time I read it.  It made me excited.  It made me want to write.  Maybe not about baseball, but another topic I know a lot about.  And that's what a good mentor text will do.

I would include this book to have one poetry collection:

Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection: A Child's First Poetry Collection
Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow
The poems are fun, beautiful, thoughtful.  They brought me back to my childhood.  They are organized well.  I could go through this collection and find a reason to celebrate all of them.

I would include this book to show Narrative Nonfiction Writing:

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking
Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey
Loved this book the minute I read it.  Perfect to show how to write in a narrative format, this time in free verse poetic form, but have each page teach you something.

I would include these books to show how end pages contain nonfiction writing:

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
Water is Water by Miranda Paul
If the book didn't have any end pages, you could still use the beautiful words and illustrations to teach the water cycle.  But add the end pages in where it shows not only more information about the water cycle, but more information about water and the importance of it to all the Earth's living things, you have a winner of a book here!  And Jason Chin's illustrations... lovely.

Water Can Be...       A Rock Can Be . . .
Water Can Be/A Rock Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas
These books are so beautiful.  I love the way Salas crafts her writing to teach and be lyrical at the same time.  You could spend hours talking about the teaching points at the back of the book and then going back to the page with the words and illustrations.  Violeta Dabija's illustrations are simply gorgeous.

I would include these books to show how nonfiction can be engaging reading:

Hippos Are Huge!
Hippos Are Huge by Jonathan London
This one was so fun!  And kids are going to laugh.  What better way to get reading then by showing them a book that will appeal to their humorous side?

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons
Bone by Bone: Compaing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine
This one reeled me in the first time I read it!  I loved the comparison between skeletons and the thinking of what could be... Wonderful conversations will happen after reading this book!

I would include these picture book biographies to show character traits:

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate
To show hope.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Thompson
To show determination.  To show making a difference.

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie by Sally Walker
To show love.

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues
Growing Up Pedro by Matt Taveres
To show hard work.

I would include these books to show non-traditional illustrated nonfiction:

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands       Can We Save the Tiger?
Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy
Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins
So many books that tackle the topic of animals show amazing photographs.  But these books include drawings that simply take your breath away.

I would include these books as mentor texts for organization:

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France
Mesmerized by Marla Rockliff
I loved the inclusion of the scientific method within this book.

Creature Features: Twenty-Five Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do
Creature Features by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Using the regular question/answer format, this book also adds voice to the mix!

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl
A Chicken Followed Me Home by Robin Page
Another wonderful question/answer format, but this time it's all about one topic.

I would include this book to show what a great expository text looks like:

A Nest Is Noisy
A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston
Just gorgeously written, you forget you are reading all about the facts!

I would include a book that shows nonfiction can be written in a different format:

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Drowned City by Don Brown
Loved this graphic novel format for a very sensitive topic.

I would include a book that shows that a longer nonfiction book can stay interesting:

Sea Turtle Scientist
Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen Swinburne
I thought sea turtles were interesting, but this book made me understand they are fascinating creatures.  A good author can hold your attention over an extended period of time!

I think these books would make up a great collection of nonfiction books.  So much to be taught, explored and discussed!  What substitutions would you make?  What would you keep?


  1. Love love love, of course! These lists are going to be the most amazing resource in my Children's Lit class. I really like the idea of including a longer nonfiction title that shows NF can hold your interest. I know I'd choose something from the Scientists in the Field series too. I also like the idea of a graphic novel nonfiction text, and Don Brown is such a good choice. And funny! I don't put enough effort into finding funny nonfiction. I've been talking up the new Spider book a lot lately because it's funny, but I'll be looking for the Hippo book now for sure. Thanks for sharing this terrific list!!

  2. Wow, a big, gorgeous collection of books and why they are fabulous! Fantastic, Michele.

  3. Love the way you organized these, Michele. What a wonderful list of so many wonderful titles. We really are lucky that authors are creating more and more resources from which to learn, about topics and about writing!

  4. Michelle I love this list! I especially love your point about some nonfiction titles having great details and information in the end pages - such a great feature when sharing with a younger class so we can choose how much to share and how quickly we move through the material.

  5. Great list. As I was scrolling down I kept getting happy seeing titles I've enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Fabulous list! Nonfiction is just such a versatile and far-reaching genre that can appeal to so many different readers, and be applied in so many different ways. I added so many books from your list to my library request list (I'm particularly keen on Mesmerized, just the cover alone looks amazing), thank you so much for sharing!

  7. What a wonderful list. It is so helpful to have a collection of nonfiction titles that students will love and that help us teach reading and writing strategies.

  8. I loved seeing how you organized this--and seeing lots of books I love here! Honored to have WATER and LEAF on your list--thanks!

  9. I too love how you organized this list. And great book choices. :-)