Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - thinking about nonfiction collections for classroom libraries 1.23.19

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

I've been thinking a lot about the kinds of nonfiction we have in classroom libraries.  I will be honest, my fiction section far outnumbers my nonfiction books.  Buyers bias?  Probably.  Although when I reflect a bit more, I generally only have picture books in my nonfiction section.  Just a few longer nonfiction books.  Since I service a K-4 school, I recognize almost all of my readers prefer picture books when it comes to nonfiction.  And that's fine, I think that is an appropriate length for their reading stamina.  When I think about that, my nonfiction picture books outnumber my fiction picture books.  It's just when you include the fiction chapter books, it starts getting outnumbered.  

However, in the past five years I have been reading more nonfiction, buying more nonfiction and using more nonfiction as read alouds.  I have been cognizant of how I display my nonfiction and how it is organized.  I try to keep it easy to find what a reader may be looking for.  It's a user friendly classroom library, I hope!

When I think about the majority of my nonfiction books, they lie in 2 main categories - books about animals and biographies/memoirs.  The animals books get read.... a lot!  Biographies go through phases depending upon what teachers are reading.  The graphic novel memoirs get the most love!  While I recognize animal books are very popular, I'm constantly trying to find books about other subjects, too.  Kidlit authors, if you're reading this.... we need more nonfiction books that cover current science and social science standards!  Not only would teachers need these in classrooms, these books help young learners understand new content in a way a textbook will never be able to!

I've also been paying a lot of attention to Melissa Stewart's blog posts in regards to expository nonfiction and making sure I have an abundance of these books in my library.  I still tend to gravitate towards narrative nonfiction, but I've gotten better!  I know by paying attention to her posts I'm going to be exposed to a variety of nonfiction and she helps me make sure I'm including all types.  Within a grouping of nonfiction I try and make sure I have a mix of expository and narrative nonfiction. 

So if you're thinking about your classroom library, especially in the nonfiction area, and you're looking for it to grow, here are some gatherings of books I have:

- the world around us
- places to visit/habitats
- dinosaurs
- transportation
- weather
- biographies and memoirs

Instead of just putting all of my animal books together, I have them further split up by type of animal and where they live.  Some bins are:

- flyers
- polar animals
- creepy crawlies
- animals that live on the savannah
- land animals
- ocean animals

I also have some nonfiction series - you can never go wrong with them!  Once you hook a reader onto a series, it's like returning home - you know what to expect, there's a sense of security for a young reader and you can keep coming back to them.  Some series kids enjoy:

- Who Would Win (by the far the most popular)
- Who Was/Is?
- Where Was/Is?
- National Geographic animal chapter books
- Sports Illustrated Kids My First Book of... (different sports)

I encourage you to take a look at your nonfiction section in your classroom library.  What are your gaps?  Do you have books for all readers?  What do you need more of?  Do you have a mix of narrative and expository nonfiction?  And do you have an area that I don't have?  Recommend something to me in the comments!

Happy nonfiction reading!


  1. I no longer have the classrroom, taught older students, yet they still loved and benefitted from reading the nf picture books, learned about the subject as well as learned new ways to present their own research. I do like Melissa's posts, seeing new ways to approach nf, too. Thanks, Michele!

  2. Did you see that long twitter chat about characterizing works with fictional elements? I was so glad that Melissa posted it on her blog, since I'm not on twitter. So many interesting points that people made, from writing, reading and shelving perspectives.

    I love the idea of somehow organizing the animal ones by ecosystem.