Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Nonfiction: An Update

I posted in early December about my plans to make December a month of nonfiction reading.  I had big goals for my students and met many of them.  The process took a little longer than I planned and much of the month was spent finding great books, building stamina for nonfiction, etc.  I was getting a bit discouraged but then I started noticing things. I noticed a child hand off a nonfiction book to another child as they were lining up for lunch. I noticed a few books begin to circulate and become popular in the classroom. I noticed some readers stick with a topic. I noticed kids finding series or authors that they wanted to read more of. I thought I'd share the books that have been popular in the last few weeks in our 4th grade classroom.  Lots of books are books I predicted would be well loved but others are surprised.

I have a group of kids reading lots about baseball history. These books seem to be circulating between 5-6 kids in the classroom. The books they are currently reading include:
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth Teammates
Henry Aaron's Dream
Heroes of Baseball: The Men Who Made It America's Favorite Game

Two authors students seem to like are Nic Bishop and Irene Kelly:
Nic Bishop: Butterflies and Moths
It's a Butterfly's Life

There is also a group interested in reading anything and everything about dogs. Some current favorites include:
Why Do Dogs Bark? (Penguin Young Readers, L3)
National Geographic Kids Everything Dogs: All the Canine Facts, Photos, and Fun You Can Get Your Paws On!

Several books that are popular based on (I imagine) topic are:
Venom (Junior Library Guild Selection)
Micro Mania: A Really Close-Up Look at Bacteria, Bedbugs, & the Zillions of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You!
Life-Size Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures (Life-Size Series)

A few students have become interested in some nonfiction series books such as:
Face to Face with Lions (Face to Face with Animals)
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field Series)

Overall, it's been a great month of nonfiction reading. I have seen more voluntary nonfiction reading with this group than I ever have. The time to dig in and find books they love was necessary. Now, I think we are ready for some work on becoming better nonfiction readers, writing in response to nonfiction, stretching ourselves as nonfiction readers etc.  


  1. Thanks for the update, and the great book titles. You run a reading workshop, right? Did you also break out into small groups? If so, how? Self-selected based on interests?

    Thanks for the window into your classroom. I really enjoy the peek inside!

  2. We've just launched our unit, and it is exciting to see nonfiction take center stage.I have a subscription to National Geographic as well a a good number of the Scientists in the Field series...but this is definately an area I need to build on. Thanks for the great list of interesting titles!

  3. I heard Kadir Nelson, author of We Are the Ship speak at NCTE-WLU in 2011. He was amazing! If you can find some way to get him to share about his art, his writing, his research for this book and background...a Skype visit maybe.....he is terrific. (If I can find my notes I will send them if you like.)He has so much to share. My husband read baseball history books in elementary school and loved The History of the New York Yankees (1903-1950)by Frank Graham which you can still find and also American Heritage probably starting gr. 5. He was and is an amazing reader. I think it is wise to get more kids into nonfiction, but not at the expense of fiction. So .....balance is a good thing!! But I always worried that kids did not do the reading and just looked at the pictures. It is great that there are more kid-accessible choices around. My husband also loved biographies of baseball players. I loved biographies in general.
    Janet F.

  4. Dear Franki... Again you inspire us all to think deeply!


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