Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
About the Series: These 15 books focus on grades 4 through 8 content but are focused on students with lower reading levels. They contain high-interest nonfiction topics like Earth and Space, Living Things, History, Technology, and Careers, and highlight content areas outside of English/language arts.
Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As a former high school teacher, I know the struggle to match kids with great books. Oftentimes, struggling readers cannot find books that match their reading abilities and interests. For instance, a student may find books with grade-level topics to be interesting, but the texts are simply too challenging. This series is great because the books contain middle school topics but are written at lower elementary school reading levels. They are carefully crafted with attention to vocabulary and sentence structure to support readers.
I enjoyed We Made It by Lisa Benjamin. It was composed of five chapters about manmade structures: the International Space Station, the Great Pyramid, the Lincoln Cathedral, Skyscrapers, the Three Gorges Dam, and the Eden Project. I learned a lot, and I suspect future engineers will enjoy learning about these structures. Teachers could explore interdisciplinary connections by integrating other content areas, like science and social studies. High Noon Books rates this book one star, which means it is designed to be at a first grade reading level.
Robots by Allison Lassieur was at a higher reading level, ranked grade three (three stars) by High Noon Books. I immediately noticed a difference from We Made It. While both books are the same number of pages, the sentences in Robots were closer together, and the book was longer. Additionally, the book contained complex sentence structures. Robots explores a lot of interesting aspects about…you guessed it, robots! Dancing robots, robots that keep us safe, firefighting robots, ancient robots, and robots of the future are just a few of the topics of this text. I am saving this book because if my son enjoys robotics when he is a bit older, he will definitely love this overview. I think teachers could have a guest speaker come in and discuss real-life applications of robots. Or, students could research robots that are used in their community.
Kellee’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I am the reading coach at my school and have worked with struggling readers for for the last few years. One of the struggles that struggling readers have, as Ricki stated, is finding a book that is at their interest level but also at their reading level. It’s All True! is trying to remedy that by having informational nonfiction texts at a middle grade interest level, but at a reading level that these students can reach. It reminds me of fiction series like Bluford, but with specific purposes for instruction. I could see these texts being used in a small group setting when teachers differentiating for their students.
I read two different books in the “Living Things” series: This is Huge by Lisa Benjamin (1 star) and Healers and Killers by Allison Lassieur (3 stars). Both included very specific information about the topics they were focusing on: This is Huge was about large animals over time; Healers and Killers was about plants and animals that can kill or heal us. The information in both seemed to be on grade level (middle school); however, the “three star” book had more text per page, tougher vocabulary, and more complex sentence structures.
Teacher Materials for Each Level:
Weird Science, Chapter One
(2 star text)
Read This If You Love: How it Works series by various, Informational nonfiction by Jen Green, Informational nonfiction by Seymour Simon
**Thank you to Steve at High Noon Books for providing these books for review**