Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's Non-Fiction Wednesday and Non-Fiction 10 for 10 #nfpb10for10

Today is double duty - I am participating in Kid Lit Frenzy's non-fiction picture book challenge this year and today is the 10 for 10 nonfiction picture book event!

I'm excited to be participating in the Non-Fiction 10 for 10 event today, which is being hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine, Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and Julie Balen at Write at the Edge

I took the time to look through my non-fiction picture book read alouds for the last couple of years.  I selected the books that my second graders responded to and really loved - the books that started conversations and the books that my students took off the shelf to look at again later.  Please click on the book to view the summary at goodreads.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson

If you have not read this book, please run, do not walk (but don't slip on the ice) to your library and check this fabulous book out!  Full of beautifully photographed snowflakes and exceptional illustrations that help to explain how a tiny snowflake is formed.  It would pair nicely with Snowflake Bentley.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.

As 2 cross country skiers explore the outdoors we learn about the secret world underneath the snow.  My students love learning the word, subnivean.  

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R. Bergum

And this book is a must to pair with Kate Messner's book!  Here we get to take a close look at what those animals are doing during the winter under the snow, and underground.  My students love comparing and contrasting the 2 books!

North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson and illustrated by Patrick Benson

We often teach our students about the migrations of birds south for the winter, but this book is all about the migration north to the arctic in the spring.  This book would pair nicely with The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing Migration.

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Jane Chapman

Lyrical telling of the Loggerhead turtle's journey from hatching, to surviving in the ocean and returning to lay her eggs on the same beach she was born.  Really, I would recommend any book by Nicola Davies!  

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I read this book to my class during our Mock Caldecott.  I chose it because I am such a big fan of Melissa Sweet's illustrations and the wonderful story of a everyday person overcoming obstacles including war and a terrible injury.  I loved reading the notes at the end describing the research both author and illustrator did to prepare for writing and illustrating the book also.  But sometimes my young students surprise me with how emotionally they connect to a story.  This was one of those times.  They loved Horace and his story.  They loved how he persevered.  They noticed that after the war he was sad.  They could tell by the colors in his art.  They also noticed that Melissa Sweet was also the illustrator of the series, Pinky and Rex!

Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy

Growing up in the 1930's Betty didn't like to do what was acceptable or "normal" for little girls.  She liked playing with trucks and dreamed of flying one day.  My second graders are always shocked to find out that not very long ago girls weren't allowed to do all the things they can do now.  They are stunned when they learn that women couldn't vote either in "the olden days".  When Betty is not selected to be an astronaut they yell, "That's not fair."  At the end of our reading one of my students suggested that Betty might be a lot like Horace Pippin.  She found a way to do what she dreamed, even though everyone said she couldn't because she was a girl.  Horace finds a way to do what he dreams too.

Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I grew up in the "Land of Lincoln", so I have a real soft spot in my heart for Abraham Lincoln.  Standing before the Lincoln Memorial for the first time a few years ago I actually had tears in my eyes. Kadir Nelson's illustrations are stunning and mesmerizing.  I love how Doreen Rappaport's telling of Lincoln's life shows how he overcome so many obstacles.  My student's know he was the 16th president, but this book really provides something new for them.  Doreen Rappaport has a ton of other biographies that I would also recommend.  And please be sure to check out Kadir Nelson's Nelson Mandela, which I have not read to my class yet!

Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares

There are so many, many books written on Helen Keller!  You might think you have seen them all, read them all, and an author couldn't possibly bring anything new to the story of Helen Keller.  But you would be wrong my friend!  This is the perfect book for introducing Helen Keller to my second graders.  Most have never heard of her before and the the story of her tragic illness is shocking to them. Helen's story is the ultimate of a person who overcomes obstacles in her life.  Did I mention how much I love the narrative style of Doreen Rappaport?

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim and illustrated by Bryan Collier

A powerful story of how young Booker overcomes hardship to learn to read.  A truly inspiring story.  So many of my students take for granted their right to learn to read and go to school.  This book is a gateway to discussing many issues including slavery and the fact that many children in the world still don't learn to read.  The story really hits home the value of an education without hitting the reader on the head!  Very moving story.

That's my top ten non-fiction picture books for now.  I can't wait to read all the other posts!

What are your favorite non-fiction picture books?


  1. Melissa Sweet, Melissa Stewart, and Nicola Davies are all over these posts! Debra, you have 10 great titles here. I get to listen to Brian Collier tomorrow at Dublin Lit. Yep, I'm kind of excited. Thanks for joining the fun!


  2. Terrific list Debra. So many of my favourites are included like Over and Under, Under the Snow, and One Tiny Turtle. Adding A Splash of Red to my to be purchased list. It sounds like it will fit in nicely to lessons I do with young teens. So happy you submitted this list!

  3. This is a great list! I'm taking your advice and ordering The Story of Snow right now. Thanks for sharing!