Are we reading aloud enough nonfiction in PreK-1st?

Beginning in the primary grades, our students need to hear us read aloud A LOT of nonfiction. This helps them develop an ear for what it should sound like when they read independently and when they write nonfiction as well. Below are some new titles students will enjoy hearing read aloud – again and again. I’ve included reviews, suggestions for classroom use and Next Generation Science Standard connections. If you visit my Goodreads page, I have a shelf of nonfiction read alouds for PreK-2nd!


Good Trick, Walking Stick by Bestor

Engaging introduction to the walking stick with a rhyming, reoccurring phrase, “Good trick, walking stick!” The main text could easily be read aloud to preK-1st grade students and then an additional read might include information provided in the captions. Onomatopoeia (“drop, plop, drop,” “wiggle wiggle wiggle Pop!”) in different color, larger fonts beg children to engage in acting out or contributing sound during an interactive read aloud. Well written with clear illustrations to support the text. Might go well with NGSS  K-ESS3 Earth & Human Activity and 1-LS1- From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes.


At the Marsh in the Meadow by Mebane

LOVED THIS!!!! Written in a rhythmic cumulative style like “The House that Jack Built.” The author starts with the marsh and the mucky mud, the reeds and the algae and then begins to build the food chain – mayflies eat the algae, water spiders eat the mayflies and so forth. The repetitive, rhythmic verse lends itself to young children jumping in to repeat phrases and act out some of the verbs – nibble, grasp, slurp, etc. The illustrations are vibrant, clearly support the text and worthy of looking at carefully before, during, and after reading aloud. Great for PreK-Kinder studying animals and food chains. Might go really well with the NGSS K-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes.


Ouch! Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways by Genhart

Not just any book about bullying. The author targets “microagressions”—defined in the author’s note as “brief exchanges where an indignity, insult, or slight is expressed.” Well written. The content is clear, to the point with a kind (not patronizing) voice. Concrete examples of what children say when they are being microaggressive – “he’s so gay,” “reading is for nerds,” “he throws like a girl” and concrete kid-manageable suggestions for what to do in response. More importantly, the author addresses the idea that it’s hard to stand up to microaggressions and that “doing the right thing takes courage and it takes practice.” This would make a great read aloud as well as an opportunity for young students to turn and talk in small groups. This might be used at the beginning of the school year to launch problem-solving discussions, etc. At the end of the book, there is a helpful essay by Kevin Nadal, a psychology and professor, with more detailed information about what microaggressions are and what we can do if our child is the target or if our child is the enactor.


Every Breath We Take: A Book About Air by Ajmera & Browning

Lots of potential for use in the classroom as part of a rigorous unit of study. Read aloud to PreK-1st grade students and pose questions for small groups to discuss. Let a small group of second grade students read to each other and then discuss, “Why is clean air important? What in the text makes you think so? What is your response to that?” Read aloud to 3rd-4th grade students to launch an inquiry—use information on specific pages in the book (including the last two that have more details) to help students generate their own questions. Use as a mentor for writing, for thinking about author’s point of view and how to convey that in their own writing. Lots, lots, lots of ways to use. Would go well with NGSS K-ESS2 Earth’s Systems-in particular ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems.


Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Jenkins & Page

Great for PreK-1 interactive read aloud that expands students’ vocabulary. Animals that “walk” also tiptoe, waddle, stroll, and march. Animals that “jump” also pounce, spring, rocket, bound straight up, vault, flutter, burst. And more. So much potential fun and learning. The kind of book kids will want to hear read again and again. For older students, this book might launch further research or serve as a mentor text for layout and design as well as focused content. Would work well as part of an integrated unit for NGSS 1-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, specifically LS1.A Structure and Function.

Hope this helps.



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