Saturday, April 30, 2016

NESCBWI Handout: The Nonfiction Triumvirate

Nonfiction Categories

Life Story
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Brave Girl by Michelle Markle

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Lives of the Presidents (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull

Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium

The Right Word by Jen Bryant

 

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

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

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


Concept Book
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins

Lifetime by Lola Schaefer

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy

A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachen Rau

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Writing Styles

Expository
Facts Plus
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge

Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee

Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

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
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

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley

Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Common Text Structures

Description/Explanation  
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
Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
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
What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley
 
Episodic narrative
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel
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
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain by Sy Montgomery
 
Cycle narrative
A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison
Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)
Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
 
Chronological expository
Bugged: How Insects Changed History 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

 
-------------------------------------------------------------
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
 

 

 
 
 

 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Behind the Books: Is “Write What You Could Teach” Good Advice?

Lately, I’ve heard teachers advising young writers to choose nonfiction topics “that you could teach someone about.” For instance, an avid soccer player might write about the rules of soccer. I have just one word for that kind of writing . . . BORING.

Why would a child want to rehash something he or she already knows backward and forward when there’s a wide world of ideas and information out there just waiting to be discovered?

Think about it this way. I could teach someone how to make a sandwich just the way my husband likes it. I could explain how to wash windows so they don’t streak or how to make “hospital corners” when I change the sheets on a bed. I could describe how to sort trash according to my transfer station’s rules. But why would I want to write about any of these things? I’d be bored, and so would my readers.

I write about science because I’m fascinated by the natural world. When I’m engaged in the world, I’m constantly encountering things that make me ask questions. And to satisfy my curiosity, I want to know more, more, more. Learning more gets me so excited that I’m dying to share my new knowledge with other people. That’s what fuels my writing.

Kids are no different from me. When they focus on ideas and information that they care about, when they conduct research to satisfy their own curiosity, they will craft lively, interesting writing just brimming with passion. And, really, that’s the goal of nonfiction writing—crafting prose that our intended audience wants to read.

How do we give students the tools and opportunities they need to become passionate nonfiction writers? I’ll talk more about that next week.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book of the Week: Butterfly or Moth? How Do You Know?

Educators often ask me which of my books would work best in their classroom. So this year, I’ve decided to feature a book each week and highlight related teaching materials and strategies.

Last week, I discussed A Place for Butterflies. If you pair it with Butterfly or Moth? How Do You Know?, you can create a great lesson that looks at text structures and how decisions about text structure impact the research process.

After reading the books to your students, ask them to discuss this following questions:

What is the primary text structure of each book?

Do you think Melissa Stewart used the same body of research to write both books? What is your evidence?

Do you think her information came from the same sources or different ones? What is your rationale?

The primary text structure of A Place for Butterflies could be described as either Cause & Effect or Problem-Solution. But Butterfly or Moth? How Do You Know? has a strong Compare ? Contrast text structure.

Hopefully, students will realize that even though both books are about butterflies, the content of each title is quite different. For Butterfly or Moth?, My main sources included books and personal observations in the natural world. For A Place for Butterflies, I relied heavily on scientific journal articles that I found using a database and interviews with scientists.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Behind the Books: I’m Such a Gossip!

Are you a gossip? I am. Like any gossip, I share things I overhear. I just can’t keep a secret.

Sometimes the person speaking doesn’t even know I’m listening. But my ears are always open for juicy tidbits.

And like any gossip, I share things that I think other people will find interesting. Some gossips might tell people about the crazy thing their neighbor did last week. Others might spread news about the tragic situation a friend is facing.
 
What do I gossip about? Science.

When I overhear a fascinating fact or an amazing story or a cool idea, I just can’t keep it to myself. I want to share it with EVERYONE.  And that’s why I’m a nonfiction writer. My job is to share information in a way that will make my audience just as interested as I am.

Here are a few examples. When I was at a nature center near my home, one of the naturalists told me she was working with the local electric company to create new habitat for an endangered butterfly. I immediately wanted to share that story, and eventually, I did in my book A Place for Butterflies.

When my nephew, Colin, was about 5 years old, I heard him say he wanted to know more about “kid insects, you know, insects that are still growing up.” I loved that idea, so I stole it. Soon I was telling kids everywhere how a wide variety of insects grow up in Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects.

A few years later, I heard Colin arguing with his sisters, Claire and Caroline, about whether or not tamarin monkeys make barking noises. By now, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that a book grew out of that argument.

Can an Aardvark Bark? will be published in 2017. Would you like a sneak peek at the sketches? It’s illustrated by the uber-talented Steve Jenkins.

See, I told you I was a gossip. I really just can’t keep a secret.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book of the Week: A Place for Butterflies

Educators often ask me which of my books would work best in their classroom. So this year, I’ve decided to feature a book each week and highlight related teaching materials and strategies.

A Place for Butterflies was originally published in 2006, but was revised and updated in 2014, so it has the latest information about the challenges butterflies face and how we can do simple things to help them survive.

You could share one or two spreads to support NGSS PE K-ESS3-3 or read the whole book as part of a lesson that addresses NGSS PE 5-ESS3-1.

I have also created a Teacher’s Guide that makes connections to a wide variety of NGSS and Common Core standards. You can find additional activities, including a life cycle song, here.

This book is great for Reading Buddies programs. For more information, read this article and look at the materials on my CCSS ELA RIT #1 & 2: Reading Buddies pinterest board. I also have a pinterest board devoted to A Place for Butterflies.

The main text of A Place for Butterfliess has both a cause & effect text structure and a problem-solution text structure, while many of the sibdebars compare past human activities that hurt butterflies to current more butterfly-friendly activities. That makes it a great mentor text for students learning about nonfiction text structures.

Friday, April 8, 2016

April Is Poetry Month

Springtime Sap
Golden drips
s-t-r-e-t-c-h
then slip.
They tumble down,
and hit the ground.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Behind the Books: It’s School Visit Season


I do a few school visits each month, but during April and May is my primetime for reaching out to children and teachers. This year, I started things off at Clinton Elementary School in Clinton, MA, where I did presentations about bats (grade 2) and birds (grade 3).

Besides discussing my writing process and the book-making process, we also did a slew of fun, hands-on activities to help students understand the amazing anatomy and physiology of the animals around us. What a great day!

 
Today, I’m heading out to Memorial School in Medfield, MA, to present to preK-grade 1 students. I’m really looking forward to it. I learn as much from the students as they learn from me.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Book of the Week: Zoom in on Ladybugs

Educators often ask me which of my books would work best in their classroom. So this year, I’ve decided to feature a book each week and highlight related teaching materials and strategies.

Zoom in on Ladybugs is perfect for visual literacy lessons. In addition to clear, simple text, it features fascinating close-up images inside “zoom bubbles” that highlight a ladybug’s key body parts. The photographic lifecycle diagram at the end of the book introduces readers to yet another way of presenting information visually.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Is Poetry Month

Mother Nature shouts,
“Hocus pocus!”
What’s the result?
A precocious crocus.