Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Behind the Books: Perfect Pairs

After writing more than 150 science books for kids, I decided to try something a little different—a book for teachers that brings together science and ELA instruction.

My co-author Nancy Chelsey and I worked on Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 for three long years, writing and testing and then re-writing each lesson. So you better believe that we’re thrilled to finally see it in print. Don’t you just love the cover? We do.

The story behind this book traces all the way back to 2006. That’s when I began to see clear signs that some children connect more strongly with nonfiction books, while others gravitate toward fiction. As a result, I started pairing thematically-similar fiction and nonfiction children’s books and developing innovative content-area activities with the books as a centerpiece. For example, here are a few pairings that could be used for an early-elementary science lesson about weather:

The Rain Came Down by David Shannon, Blue Sky Press, 2000 & When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart, Peachtree, 2008 (Gr K-2)

One Windy Wednesday by Phyllis Root, Candlewick, 1996 & I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb, HarperCollins, 2003 (Gr 1-3)
Snow by Uri Shulevitz, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999 & Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Houghton Mifflin, 1998 (Gr 1-4)

I certainly wasn’t the first person to advocate using fiction and nonfiction books together. Two great articles I read as I was just getting started were:

·         Camp, Deanne. “It Takes Two: Teaching with Twin Texts of Fact and Fiction.” The Reading Teacher, February 2000, pp. 400-408

·         Taberski, Sharon. “Fact & Fiction: Read Aloud.” Scholastic Teachers. Internet page at:

When Nancy Chelsey and I met in 2008, she was a science and literacy specialist working for the Maine Math and Science Alliance. She was concerned with the way she saw teachers using children’s literature to teach science. She was intrigued with my ideas, and we began a series of conversations about the most useful and practical way to combine the magic of children’s books with the wonders of the natural world.

When we realized that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) would require elementary educators to teach science in new ways, we knew the time was right to create a resource that would allow time-strapped teachers to combine key elements of their science and ELA curriculum. The result is Perfect Pairs.

By bringing together Nancy’s tremendous experience as an educator and my knowledge of science and children’s books, we’ve created a resource that makes science easy to teach and fun to learn. We hope you’ll give it a try.

1 comment:

  1. Great book. We have used it to develop curriculum, teach according to CCSS ELA and NGSS!