Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Guitar Genius and educator's guide

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.

Do you have someone in your class that loves to tinker?  Someone who can take things apart and put them together - sometimes in a way that makes the item work even better than before?  Do you know someone who takes a little bit of this, a part from here, and puts them together to create something new and exciting?  Today, that person may be a student in your class.  Years from now, that person may invent something that changes the way we look at an idea.  You may have the next Les Paul!

Guitar Genius by Kim Tomsic
Guitar Genius: 
How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar 
and Rocked the World
written by Kim Tomsic
illustrated by Brett Helquist
published by Chronicle Books

Before Les Paul gave us the electric guitar, he was that tinkerer - the one who could take an oatmeal box, wire, and a few other odds and ends to create his own radio.  Les, or as he was known while growing up in Waukesha (pronunciation here), WI, Lester Polsfuss, was constantly finding a problem and then thinking about how he would solve that problem.  Usually, that problem was musically related.  Author Kim Tomsic walks us through the evolution of the Les Paul electric guitar - from how he figured out how to amplify the sound of a regular guitar, to the construction of a primitive electric guitar, to creating the body and shape of the electric guitar we know.  Along the way we understand some of the mechanics and science/sound behind the electric guitar.  While Lester may have started thinking about problems and possible solutions, Les Paul took those ideas and made musical history!

I love picture book biographies because of the many versatile ways they can be used.  This particular book has connections to reading and writing, science, and social emotional learning standards.  The makerspace ideas are endless!  I was fortunate enough to work with Chronicle Books and write the teacher's guide for this fabulous book.  Here are ideas, questions, and activities you can use with your students!

You can also access the Teacher's Guide here.

I hope this book inspires your students to create and think in new ways about all of the possibilities that are out there!


  1. I shared this today, too, Michele, & with my granddaughter who plays guitar, & loved it! He was amazing, wasn't he? How wonderful that you helped write the Teacher's Guide. It is an inspiring book for every classroom's maker spaces!

  2. How cool that you wrote the Teacher's Guide. I love going "beyond the book."