Monday, October 23, 2017

Literacy for All Handout: The Nonfiction Triumvirate

Today's nonfiction is more creative than ever before. Discover how understanding and experimenting with nonfiction categories, writing styles, and text structures can help authors of all ages make their writing more engaging.

Nonfiction Categories
Life Story
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
 
Brave Girl by Michelle Markle

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
 
Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari
 
El Deafo by Cece Bell
 
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Lives of the Presidents (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull
 
A Mother’s Journey by Sandra Markle

Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium

Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet


Survey Book
Eyewitness Books
 
The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages by Kathy Allen

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Lightning by Seymour Simon

National Geographic Readers
 
Spiders by Nic Bishop

Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee


Specialized Nonfiction
Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery

Drowned City by Don Brown

Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Tom Yezerski 

Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman

Concept Book
Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart

Hidden Dangers: Seek and Find 13 of the World's Deadliest Animals by Lola M. Schaefer

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins
 
Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

Pink Is for Blobfish by Jess Keating
Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy

A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachan Rau

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

 

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Writing Styles
Expository
Facts Plus
Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
 
Bone by Bone by Sara Levine

Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge
 
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
 
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
 

Fast Facts
Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart
 
Eyewitness Books
  
Guinness Book of World Records
  
Time for Kids Big Book of Why

 
Narrative
Ada's Violin by Susan Hood

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
 
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
 
Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
 
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton 
 
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
 
I Dissent by Debbie Levy

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
 
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
 
When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
  
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Common Text Structures
Description  
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
 
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
 
Creep and Flutter by Jim Arnosky

Dolphins! by Melissa Stewart
 
Frogs by Nic Bishop
 
Lightship by Brian Floca
 
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies

 
Sequence
Chronological narrative
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
 
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton 
 
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully 
 
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
  
Pop: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Megan McCarthy
 
The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass 
 
Some Writer by Melissa Sweet

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley 
 

Episodic narrative
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
  
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel
 
Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan


Braided narrative

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
 
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
 
We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson
  

Journey narrative
If Stones Could Speak by Marc Aronson
 
Lost Treasure of the Inca by Peter Lourie
 
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
 
The Great White Shark Scientist by Sy Montgomery
 
 
Cycle narrative
Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari

A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison
  
Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman
 
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
 
A Seed Is the Start by Melissa Stewart
 
 
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
  
 
Chronological expository
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
 
Poison by Sarah Albee

Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee
 
Why'd They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee
 
 
Cumulative expository
Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeleine Dunphy
 
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
 
Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox
 

How-to expository
Dessert Designers: Creations You Can Make and Eat by Dana Meachen Rau
 
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  
The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger
 
Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl
  
Try This! 50 Fun Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You by Karen Romano Young
 
 
Compare & Contrast
Dueling spreads
Frog or Toad? How Do You Know? by Melissa Stewart
  
Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy
 
Neo Leo by Gene Barretta
  
Those Rebels, Tom & John by Barbara Kerley
 
 
List book
Born in the Wild by Lita Judge
 
Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge
  
Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins 
 
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
 
Move by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
 
My First Day by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
 
Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer

 
Cause & Effect
Earth: Feeling the Heat by Brenda Z. Guiberson
 
Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
 
When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart

Problem—Solution
The Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle   
 
A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
 
Mesmerized  by Mara Rockliff

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean

 

Q & A Books
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sarah Levine

Good Question series (Sterling)
 
Creature Features by Steve Jenkins& Robin Page

Hatch! by Roxie Munro

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

Scholastic Question & Answer series

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

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Mixing & Matching
If you’re writing a Life Story . . .
  • Probably sequence (chronological) structure
  • Narrative writing style
If you’re writing a Survey Book . . .
  • Description/explanation, sequence, Q & A
  • Expository writing style
If you’re writing Specialized Nonfiction . . .
  • Probably sequence, compare & contrast
  • Narrative or expository writing style
If you’re writing a Concept Book . . .
  • Sequence, compare & contrast, Q & A, cause & effect, problem—solution, or invent your own
  • Probably expository writing style
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Friday, October 20, 2017

In the Classroom: A Community of Experts

When students have the opportunity to write a report on a topic they choose themselves, you may run into some research dilemmas. What if your library doesn’t have suitable sources? What if the reading level of websites is too advanced?

Professional nonfiction writers often have trouble finding information too. Even a nationwide or worldwide search may yield little information on a specific topic. For example, when I was working on No Monkeys, No Chocolate, I was frustrated that no one had ever written about the animals that interact with cocoa trees.

For my current work-in-progress about prehistoric creatures, I’m finding a lot of conflicting information in the scientific papers I’m reading. Some days I feel so confused because I just can’t tell which sources are the most reliable.

What do I do when I hit snags like these? I ask an expert. And there’s no reason your students can’t do the same thing.

Over the years, I’ve built relationships with scientists in various disciplines. These researchers are always happy to help me track down little-know resources or identify the leading theories among scientists in a particular field.

Your school can create a similar community of experts. Everyone is an expert in something. By surveying parents at the beginning of each school year, you can discover what they’re passionate about and whether they’re willing to answer questions on that topic from a child doing a report. You can also identify community workers who would be willing to assist students. It’s a great way to help students understand how professional writers go about their work.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

5 Reasons to Promote Expository Nonfiction to Your Students

Over the last five weeks, I’ve shared a plethora of evidence that nonfiction in general and expository nonfiction in particular deserves more attention and more love from educators. If you missed those posts, I invite you to scroll down and read them.

Why should we encourage students to read high-quality expository nonfiction books? Because compelling research shows that:

1.    Some students prefer expository nonfiction. They're more excited by ideas and information than by stories.

2.    For some students, expository nonfiction is the gateway to literacy.

3.    When students are curious about a topic, they're motivated readers. They'll often stretch above their reading level.

4.    Students with experience reading and writing expository nonfiction perform better on standardized tests.

5.    Students with experience reading and writing expository nonfiction have greater college and career success.

Next week, I'll share 5 WAYS to promote expository nonfiction to your students and your colleagues.

Monday, October 16, 2017

5 Faves: Expository Nonfiction Recommended by Melanie Roy

Can An Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, 2017)
I really enjoyed the unique format of this book. “Can a seal squeal? No, but it can bark. Lots of other animals bark too.”  It’s so interesting to put animals in categories based on the communication noises they employ. My son and I had fun learning about animals new to us such as the margay, oyster toadfish, and Hamadrayas baboons. He also had a great time with the last two interactive pages where he had the opportunity to make all the animal sounds featured in the book. This book is a winner!

Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder (Orca, 2014)
This is a true “window” book into another’s life experience. We take our water faucets and hot showers for granted. However, this book convinces readers what a valuable resource water truly is. We used this book for a family book club. The activity was to walk up and down the hall with two gallons of water tied to a broom handle across our shoulders. Students experienced just how difficult carrying water can be. When reading this important book you learn how people around the world are coming up with ingenious ways to harness water for themselves and their crops.  

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, 2017)
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, this book is chock full of text features such as maps charts, and cutaways that reveal something on the following page depicting the Grand Canyon of the past. The background of many pages features Grand Canyon wildlife illustrations.  The back matter includes even more information about the Grand Canyon’s history and formation, plants and wildlife, ecosystems, and rocks and fossils as well as an extensive bibliography. What an incredible way to introduce our fourth grade national parks unit!

Kids Who Are Changing the World by Anne Jankeliowitch (Sourcebooks, 2014)
This is an inspiring compilation of forty young people who are doing their part to help the environment. I like that each cause is broken into five categories: objective, action, how I’ve changed the world, my biggest mistake, and my advice. Our students are very interested in fairness and justice. I envision this book becoming a springboard for their own design thinking and action plan for making the world a better place. As the President of the GoodPlanet Foundation says in the book’s opening: “Kids have an amazing ability to come up with exciting ideas and carry them out with remarkable energy.”

If you’ve ever met Sarah Albee, you know she is smart, funny, and charming. And that is exactly how she comes across in her writing. I appreciate that she writes as if you are an equal and she wants you to be part of the inside scoop. She hooks you right from her author’s note: “Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat: this is not a how-to book. It’s a history book. It’s about how people have poisoned one another from ancient times to the present.” Most of my students will not read this cover to cover in one sitting, as it’s very dense. However, the format is such that they’ll do a picture walk and digest it in small bites (pun intended).

Melanie Roy is a library teacher for grades 4 and 5 in Barrington, RI. She believes in the power of books to build community and understanding. You can find her at @mrsmelanieroy and hmslibraryri.wordpress.com. She reads a mixture of fiction and nonfiction with her son which you can find with the hashtag #bedtimebookaday.