Flood Your Classroom with Nonfiction

Anybody have squirrelly, ready-for-summer students? Suggestion – these last few weeks, flood your classroom with fascinating nonfiction books. Books they might check out at the public library this summer. Books they might talk about at home. Books they will definitely want to read again and again with friends – through the last day of class.

Tips:

  1. Go to your public library and check out dozens and dozens of books.
  2. Create a special display in your classroom. In a third grade classroom, we spread the books out across the carpet and then helped students browse and choose.
  3. Book talk books. If you are excited about a book – something you learned in that book – your students will be, too.
  4. Be fully present while students are reading to coach at the point of need and increase their engagement/understanding of these books. Hopefully, this will develop a sense of agency (“I can do”) and students will want to read more nonfiction as a result.

Here are four authors I’d recommend with lots of titles you can find and include in your “flood” –

I Read Signs

1.  Tana Hoban – I Read Signs is an exemplar text in the Common Core Appendix B for k-1 informational reading. I call these “concept books.” Hoban has published dozens of these photograph-filled, wordless books. There are 47 available at my public library. I’d just go and check out a dozen or two and put in a special bin in my classroom. While there are few “words” to read, there is still a lot to “read” in these photos and read “into” these photos. Prompts to use – What do the photos say? Why do you think so?

truck

2.  Donald Crews – Truck is an exemplar text in the Common Core, Appendix B for k-1 informational reading. Crews’ texts are classics. Similar to Hoban, many of his books are concept books. His books are illustrated, though, and a reader has to move slowly through the illustrations to gather Crews’ meaning. The first time I read Truck, I just thought – this is a truck going from one place to another. But as I reread (“closely”), I realized that Crews is teaching about transportation, goods, economics, consumerism. There’s so much to think about while “reading” this wordless book.

butterflies

3. Nic Bishop – Many of us are familiar with Bishop’s high quality trade books filled with interesting facts and amazing photographs. Check out the modified version of these texts Scholastic has put out. While Scholastic’s leveling can be deceptive sometimes, I think transitional and early fluent level readers could tackle these books. For more fluent readers, introduce them to the original versions of Bishop’s books. Bishop has also partnered with another favorite author – Joy Cowley. So if you’re checking out his books, look up hers, too – Red Eyed Tree Frog and Chameleon, Chameleon are two I’d recommend.

bones

4. Steve Jenkins & Robin Page – This spouse duo’s books are always fascinating. (Jenkins’ What do you do with a tail like this? is an Appendix B exemplar for reading aloud to k-1.) I read Bones with my fourth grade daughter this year and we couldn’t put it down. Jenkins has dozens of books with the same high quality illustrations and focused text. (Again – 47 titles at my public library.) Most of his books would work for independent reading in 2nd-6th grade classrooms.

Hope this helps you get through the last few weeks. It’s tricky to keep students engaged in reading and learning until the very last day – but there are ways!

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