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.  

Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet are Neat by Laurie Ellen Angus (Dawn, 2018)
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 matter.

Rodent Rascals by Roxie Munro (Holiday House, 2018)
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 Eat by 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 older readers.

Who Am I?: An Animal Guessing Game by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)
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 detail.

Whose Poop is THAT? by Darrin Lunde (Charlesbridge, 2017)
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.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the Rodent book and as a bird nerd, am very excited about Paddle, Perch,Climb!