I know that the jump from WEIRD BUT TRUE to The Snake Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) isn't going to happen without some transition. I also know that our young readers don't have as much experience with nonfiction as they do with fiction. So, it's our job to put quality nonfiction--booksbthat move them as readers--in our classrooms. I have a great collection of nonfiction but as I watched my students over the last few weeks, I realized I don't have much that will help my WEIRD BUT TRUE readers transition to more complex books. The jump from WEIRD BUT TRUE to other nonfiction books in the classroom seems to be a bit too big.
See, this always happens. My husband doesn't quite understand. But, no matter how many books I begin the year with, there are gaps. There are kids who need different books than those I have. So again, I am on the lookout to fill those gaps. Right now, I am on the lookout for books that might be an easy transition to get these readers reading a bit more than isolated facts. I know they are not going to go for a book with too much text so I have to be purposeful in the books I suggest. This week I found two at Cover to Cover that I am hopeful will engage a few of these fact readers.
101 Animal Babies by Melvin and Gilda is not a book I'd normally pick up because it looks similar to WEIRD BUT TRUE. It is a Scholastic book that looks like lots that are out there. But when I opened this one, it looked perfect for a few reasons. Each page features a baby animal with 2 photos of the animal. Accompanying each set of photos is a 9-10 line paragraph about the animal. The font is big and fun enough so as not to be alarming and the text is not so long that it will intimidate readers. Kids will find very cool facts within the text but the facts are embedded in a paragraph. And the paragraphs are all related in that they are all about animal babies. So lots of natural comparing/contrasting of facts will happen. This book does not need to be read cover to cover which is another plus for kids transitioning to longer, more complex nonfiction. I also thought this would be a great intro to the ZOOBORNS blog and might invite some online reading as well.
Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson. The cover of this book will invite readers in as lots of cool skeletons sit on an old journal-type cover. Each two-page spread in this book focuses on an animal but the pages work together in that one page focuses on a skeleton and the next page shows a similar animal (not in skeleton form) and how other similar species compare to the featured skeleton. Each page is filled with short paragraphs of text. Some pages also include photos, notes, labels, etc. A table of contents and index allow kids to jump in where they want so they don't need to read this book cover to cover. However, the introduction lets the reader know that the book is set up to see similarities and differences between animals and then moves us to the human skeleton where we can see how much we have in common with other animals. So this book has lots of ways for readers to enter--they can look for cool facts by reading the short pieces on a page or they can put info together by reading a few consecutive pages. Lots of opportunities to push a little further as nonfiction readers.
I'll continue to share more of these transitional nonfiction books as I find them! I'd love to hear about titles that I can add to my collection so let me know if you know of any.