Welcome teachers, librarians, homeschoolers and nonfiction writers! This blog offers innovative resources for teaching science and tips for writing nonfiction.
Monday, June 4, 2018
5 Faves: Expository Nonfiction Recommended by Elise Katz
As a Children’s Librarian who
conducts storytimes for preschool children, ages 3-6, I often include a
nonfiction book in my thematic programs. Sometimes I read the text, but often I
summarize facts, while showing photographs or illustrations. Usually, these
books are meant to provide a factual background to a storytime theme, e.g. Holi
Festival, Children’s Day in Japan, various animal species, etc. Expository
writing enables me to selectively use the text along with illustrations. Here
are 5 books that are fun to share with young children.
This title’s focus on bird’s feet is
novel, informative, and humorous. Each double-page spread asks a question that
is reflected in the illustration. For example, one spread says, “If you had
slender legs and toes, you could,” and the next spread reveals the answer in
both words and pictures. Each spread also contains a written warning about a
predator, which requires that the reader search for the slightly hidden hunter.
This adds a fun “I Spy” element to the reading. The collage illustrations,
using handmade papers, are part of the appeal, along with informative back
This book’s clever focus on rodents
at their actual size is loaded with child appeal. While the book contains more
text than I could typically read in a storytime program, I can pull key bits
from the text or focus on just a few examples. The text is fun and informative and
will appeal to children. The shape of each text block changes, which adds
visual interest to each spread, often reflecting the shape of the illustration.
The back matter makes the book useful across the elementary grade levels.
Time to Eatby Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) This book is just right for
preschool children and slightly older readers. Using a broad range of 17
creatures, the book provides an interesting variety of eating behaviors.
Children will enjoy the fascinating facts, beautiful illustrations, manageable
layout with lots of white space, and imaginative use of typography. The text is
informative, fun, and accessible. The small square trim size is also just
right for small hands. There is substantial information in the back matter for
This book provides readers with
clues about the identity of an animal. Then, when children turn the page, they
see the critter in action, eating its food, or in its habitat. Back matter
provides information in a useful visual manner, e.g. showing the size of an
animal in comparison to a human hand or body. The amount of information in the
back matter expands on the minimal main text, explaining the clues in more
With a title like this, you know
this book will encourage giggles and laughter. Using a question-and-answer text
structure, the book asks, “Whose poop is that?” and provides two visual clues—paw
prints and poop. Text explains the poop’s most distinctive features, such as bits
of bone and fur. On the next page, we see a fox along with text that describes
what it eats. Elephants, pandas, owls, turtles, gulls, and even extinct sloths
are featured. Minimal back matter.
Elise Katz is a children’s
librarian. She has worked in public libraries in Massachusetts for the past 8
years and was previously a school librarian. Her storytime programs always
includes a craft component, which is inspired by the artwork in the books she
read. Elise served on the 2016 Caldecott Medal committee.
Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 180 nonfiction books for children. Her lifelong fascination with the natural world led her to earn a B.S.
in biology and M.A. in science journalism. When Melissa isn’t writing or speaking to children or educators, she’s usually exploring natural places near her home or around the world.
• AAAS/Subaru Prizes for Excellence in Science Books • ALA Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award • CRA Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award • Cook Prize for STEM Picture Book • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List • Cybils Nonfiction Awards • NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People • NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children • NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfictionfor Young Adults