Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Reading Longer Nonfiction Part 4 - 10.26.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

The nonfiction material that is being published is absolutely amazing.  Authors are covering fascinating topics and writing with such voice that even readers who formerly despise nonfiction are coming over to the "enlightened" side!  From picture books to longer chapter books.  From graphic novels to interactive books.  Such wonderful material!  

During the month of October, I'm going to spotlight some longer nonfiction.  Just like their picture book counterparts, authors of longer nonfiction books are putting an amazing amount of detail and engaging stories into their texts.  Each week I'll share a quick summary, along with tips on how to use it if you're not reading the text cover to cover.

Part 1:  Some Writer! and Super Gear
Part 2::  Watch Out for Flying Kids
Part 3:  Presenting Buffalo Bill

Today I am turning the spotlight on history again.  This time with more of a a historical war tactic/STEM approach.

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific: The Incredible Story of U.S. Submarines in WWII
World War II Stories
of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific
written by Deborah Hopkinson
published by Scholastic

Goodreads Summary
Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific tells the incredible story of America's little known "war within a war" -- US submarine warfare during World War II.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US entered World War II in December 1941 with only 44 Naval submarines -- many of them dating from the 1920s. With the Pacific battleship fleet decimated after Pearl Harbor, it was up to the feisty and heroic sailors aboard the US submarines to stop the Japanese invasion across the Pacific.

Using first-person accounts, archival materials, official Naval documents, and photographs, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson brings the voices and exploits of these brave men to life.

If you aren't already familiar with Hopkinson's work, it's one I recommend taking a look at (Titanic: Voices From the Disaster, The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, Courage & Defiance: Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in WWII Denmark).  Her newest novel for middle grade readers is captivating and suspenseful.  As in many of the other books I've reviewed this month, I'd be surprised if kids didn't read this book cover to cover.  However, we have readers that can't sustain longer nonfiction, so how can we peak their interest?  Try some of these ideas using this book:
  • look to see if the book is broken up into sections.  In this particular book, it is and a section usually follows the plight of one submarine ship.  Show students they can read one section instead of the whole book.
  • this is a book that will probably enhance Social Studies.  Are you a teacher that teaches World War II?  Use this book during lessons.  Find passages/stories/sections that go along with this part of history and read aloud.  Find passages for students to closely read.
  • Teachers: notice the "Skipper's Recommendations" sections that Hopkinson includes.   There is often a STEM connection.  Also, good web resource.
  • similar to Presenting Buffalo Bill, take a look at the headings - teach kids to read headings, think about what might be in that section, and decide if it's one that would hold their interest. My guess is they will get roped in and read more than they think!

I hope this blog series has been informative.  Longer nonfiction offers so much information and the books and authors I've covered have really done an amazing job at presenting the information in a fascinating way.  What were some of the ideas offered stuck with you?  What did you try?


  1. I've loved Hopkinson's books about the Titanic and the Blue Death, and now there is this one. I know I'd like it, but have always wondered about those who served in submarines-scary! Thanks, Michele!

  2. I really loved your suggestions about looking at headings. Yesterday I did a workshop-style school visit where the kids were writing photo captions. I had erroneously thought it would be a fairly automatic process, but the kids ended up needing discussion about what captions are and what their function is before they could successfully do the writing project. Focusing on nonfiction features, as you've suggested in this series, will make nonfiction more accessible to kids.