As you start the school year, consider opportunities to talk about “go to” nonfiction students might read independently (in addition to fiction). Your goal is to get nonfiction into students’ hands and to get them excited about reading these titles. Independent reading of nonfiction builds background knowledge and an understanding of what these texts sound like (in the reader’s ear) which can help when students go to write these types of texts.
In my experience, while students may gravitate to splashy nonfiction like those by DK–with lots of photographs and other features, they do not always pick up other nonfiction. They need a little boost from us. In one classroom, my colleague and I spread high interest, high quality nonfiction across the floor in the classroom library and assisted students in picking “just right” titles. I’d also encourage you to make a special display and “book talk” particular titles in the display.
Here are some new titles you might try out this year with a few ideas for how to introduce!
For transitional level readers (typically 2nd grade) and above:
Teaser for your book talk: Did you know that baby chicks will try to eat their own feet? Guess who teaches them how to figure out what’s food and what’s not?
Teaser: What happens when a baby gorilla is rejected by its mother? Do you think a zoo keeper could be a gorilla’s mother?
Teaser: Have you ever heard of a bird “sewing” its nest? Did you know some birds build their nests in cacti? Did you know some birds make nests we can eat?
Teaser: If a whale got caught in a fisherman’s net, would it die? Would you try to rescue it? How?
For fluent readers grades 3-6:
Written in a humorous tone, both of these books reveal the crazy way historical figures have died as well as the dark sides of medical treatments before the modern day. Kids will be fascinated and a little grossed out. Teaser: Did you know Cleopatra poisoned herself with a hairpin? Did you know that when Napoleon was sick, his doctors tried to cure him by smothering his body in wax and animal fat? Did you know that Marie Curie’s fingertips were blackened, cracking and oozing from handling test tubes with radium?
For savvy middle school readers:
Teaser: What would your life be like if you were the richest kid in an entire country? (Pause.) And your parents hired a tutor for you so you never had to leave the house? (Pause.) And the people just beyond your house were living in poverty and starving?
Okay…hope this helps. Are we friends on Goodreads? You can read more nonfiction book reviews on my shelves there!