In the blog entry Tip #1 for Locating Paired Informational Texts, I wrote about how to locate on-line informational articles for comparing and contrasting content and author’s craft. Another tip is to pair two books from the same series.
The “series” provides the topic – so, in the Scientists in the Field series, the topic would be how scientists and their teams engage in investigation, evaluation, and development of theories and solutions. Students could compare/contrast how one team engaged in practice versus another, the similarities and the differences. While reading two whole books from this series would be ideal, just reading excerpts from these series would work. When I worked with a group of students reading from this series, together we read an excerpt from The Tarantula Scientist (Montgomery, 2007) and then each of the students was able to draw a comparison between the excerpt from our anchor text The Tarantula Scientist and a page or two in the particular title from the series they were reading. (I coached the students in locating an excerpt – “Find an excerpt where the scientist is making observations,” etc.) (The teacher and I acquired enough of these by checking out titles from the school library and a local public library.)
You can use these paired texts to teach to any of the Common Core Reading Standard for Informational Text #9 in grades 2-7. Comparing, contrasting, integrating information, analyzing authors’ presentations of information, etc. These texts could also serve to deepen students’ understanding of how authors use structure to organize a text, standard # 5. Actually, the possibilities for alignment with the CCSS are endless.
Other series that I would recommend include the following:
- Even More Super Sized by Bearport Publishing – (2nd-4th) Students can contrast the size of two animals. These books are short; the content is well written; the layout and design is smart and focused.
- America’s Animal Comebacks by Bearport Publishing (3rd-4th plus striving readers in older grades)
- OTHER SERIES BY BEARPORT PUBLISHING – there’s several series with texts that would lend themselves to comparing. This could be a great opportunity for partner reading, conversation, and collaborative writing. Many of their books have been recognized as notable by NSTA and other groups.
- SERIES BY CREATIVE EDUCATION – I just discovered this publisher and really like the texts I’ve viewed on-line. The Seedling books would be appropriate for kinder-3rd grade and even for ELs and other striving readers. They also have a series on musical instruments, athletes, and more.
Another suggestion – Most libraries order several titles from a series. I go hunt. I find a title I like from a series and then I look to see what else the library has.
Another suggestion – Check out Booklist, a publication by the American Library Association. For the last several issues, Booklist has been highlighting new nonfiction series. Many libraries – school and public – subscribe to this; ask your librarian. Also, at Booklist website you can locate resources like this article “Top Ten Nonfiction Series in 2012.”
Another suggestion – If you have a leveled book room, it might include titles from series that would work for this, too. National Geographic School Publishing has texts in series like Documents of Freedom and Seeds of Change in American History (Reading Expeditions) as well as Animals in Their Habitats and Extreme Weather (Theme Sets).
Caution: There are some series I do not like. If you pick up a text from a series and read a paragraph and feel like the author is trying to cover too much content at a time (like 200 years of history), dump it. It’s too much. If the writing stinks, cast it aside. An example of a poorly written series is Scholastic’s True Book series. I’m not a fan.