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 She reads a mixture of fiction and nonfiction with her son which you can find with the hashtag #bedtimebookaday.

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