Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Still Learning to Read: A New Nonfiction Book

This is one of a series of blog posts that continue the conversation around Still Learning to Read--teaching reading to students in grades 3-6.  This series will run on the blog on Tuesdays starting in August 2016 and continue through the school year.

We are getting ready to really dig into nonfiction reading so I am on the lookout for nonfiction books that will engage my students as well as nonfiction books that I could use for mini lessons.  I found the perfect book last week. My colleague, Brenda Fields, had Grover Cleveland, Again! A Treasury of American Presidents by KenBurns on her ledge when I walked into her classroom the other day and I had to ask about it and check it out! The next week I picked a copy up from Cover to Cover. What a great find!

There is so much to love about this book. When I was in elementary school, my dad bought me a similar book and I spent tons of time digging into it over the years.   When I brought this book into the classroom last week, several kids were anxious to read it. (We keep sticky notes on the popular books so we know who to pass it along to and you can see by this sticky note that there is a long line of kids waiting to get their hands on this one!)

This will definitely be a great book for independent reading. There are so many ways in for kids that it will be accessible to many readers. But I looked more closely at it and realized how perfect it would be for a mini lesson.

One of the things I know my kids need to learn more about is previewing nonfiction.  One of the things we'll do early on in our study is to learn how to preview nonfiction differently than we preview fiction. At the beginning of this idea, we'll look at books and series and authors and think about what, as a reader, we can expect before beginning to read.  This book seems perfect to introduce this topic.  After flipping through it and spending a bit of time with it as a reader, I notice that all of the presidents from George Washington  to Barack Obama are included and they seem to be in order of presidency.  There are numbers in the top left corner of each spread that tell readers the "number" of each president.  Another thing that is consistent is that there is a two page spread on each president. The spread included a box with a photo and basic facts. There is also a multi-paragraph piece that is in nonfiction narrative form telling a bit about the president's life, including his presidency. Then each page has some other interesting information in red boxes. So readers know what to expect on each page.  One thing I liked is that there is variety in the craft of the writing so I can see using some of these as mentors for writing too.

I think this will be a great book to introduce the idea of previewing books that are not meant to be read from cover to cover--those nonfiction books that you can dip in and out of. Knowing what to expect as a nonfiction reader, can help with choosing books and with comprehension.  And as I said before, this book is far more than a book that makes for a good mini lesson. It is one that will engage a variety of readers.

(Our new edition of Still Learning to Read was released in August!  You can order it online at StenhouseYou can follow the conversation using the hashtag #SLTRead or you can join us for a book chat on Facebook that began this week by joining our group here.)

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to reading your posts in this series; they complement your book perfectly. And I always love a new book rec!


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