Each February, Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning host the 10 for 10 Nonfiction Picture Book Event. As someone who “might” have an addiction to kid lit it is a dangerous collection of posts to browse. Consider yourself warned.
This year I have enjoyed so much great nonfiction. I have been particularly struck with all of the genre-smashing/bending books. I decided to ask my third graders for help in compiling this list and assure you that many more favorites are being read over and over in our class.
NF Picture Books That 3EV Loves:
Finding Winnie– this is a book that I love more each time I read it. In class, we liked it because we called it for our Mock Caldecott and it taught us that biographies do not have to focus only on people. Deadliest Animals– we used this book as a mentor text for our first nonfiction writing unit and then the PTA paid for an author Skype with Melissa Stewart. Needless to say, the students hung on her every word and her tips helped their writing. As a bonus, her website is a goldmine for teachers and students.
Talk, Talk, Squawk! A Human’s Guide to Animal Communication– while I love everything I have read by Nicola Davies, this was new to me this year. The kids LOVED learning about how animals communicate (and I think they loved the title too). Several students used this as they researched.
How to Swallow a Pig– who doesn’t love a “how-to”? This book had us feel all the feels- we laughed, we ughed, we gagged, you get the idea! It gave me a good reason to pull out other books by this amazing duo.
Swan– is a book I heard about as it was written. Laurel Snyder’s love of the topic shines through in her word choice. I was leaving the US before it was published, but the amazing Mr. Schu (John Schumacher) gifted me with a copy of it when we met up at the Boston Scholastic Book Summit. The words and pictures evoke magic and as we studied life lessons that biographies can teach us the students came back to this one again and again.
Water Is Water– water is a thread running through our science and social studies units and we read this one during our ecosystems study. We loved the simplicity of the text, combined with the complexity of the learning.
Growing Up Pedro– this was a book that absolutely captivated the readers in 3EV (as a bonus they loved undressing this book- make sure you look under the jacket). They loved the relationship between the brothers and the pay off for the hard work. This is one that the kids still talk about.
I’m Trying to Love Spiders– we loved the participatory demands in this book! The author has you hooked as the main character tries to convince herself that spiders are worthy of love. The ending was great.
A City Through Time– as we started to learn about ancient civilizations picture books were a great in. A student who recently joined the class without much English was especially fond of the book and rushed over to share it with his mom when she visited.
My tenth choice is a joint selection… the nonfiction books my third graders have written. The writing this year have amazed me! It is my first year using the Units of Study from Teachers College and I can really see a difference in my teaching and the students’ learning. I have learned more about cat communication, praying mantises, King Tut, relaxation, and so much more! I know I will continue to learn from their writing throughout the year (and hope they will share more of it more publicly).