I've made a personal goal to read more nonfiction picture books. Yes, the YA fiction shelves call my name, but my developing readers L.O.V.E. to dig through my nonfiction shelves in search of books with photographs, quick-to-read captions and information.
Here are my top 9 + 1 nonfiction picture book picks:
This is one of the many books on sharks that can be found on my classroom bookshelf. Kids cannot resist books about dangerous animals. Girls and boys alike have pored over these books. Any time I find a book with great photographs and minimal text, I snap it up.
8. Snowflake Bentley
I am a huge fan of snow and a geek when it comes to identifying snowflakes. I recommend pairing these books following the first snowstorm (or when you need to cool off during a hot day). Snowflake Bentley managed to photograph snowflakes, and The Story of Snow explains how snow forms. One snowflake tip: use a dark piece of felt to catch snowflakes and observe their shape before they melt.
7. Over and Under the Snow
Speaking of snow, you must get a copy of Kate Messner's picturesque picture book. This book has lovely drawings of kids playing on the snow while animals burrow, sleep and tunnel under the snow.
6. Musical Instruments
I started playing violin in 4th grade, so I love to share my love of music with my students. I especially like the clear overlay pages in these "First Discovery" books. Kids can see the outside and inner workings of instruments you'd find in the symphony.
5. When Marian Sang
I have encountered a few intermediate students who devour biographies.
This is an excellent book to share with students when discussing people who have reached their goals despite prejudice and defeat. Pam Munoz Ryan tells the inspiring story of Marian Anderson, black opera singer. I also found a YouTube book talk.
I bought this book for my oldest daughter when Barack Obama was elected. She admires his spirit, commitment to his family and his ideas. I really enjoyed the smooth illustrations by AG Ford. My students liked learning about our president's childhood. It makes them more able to connect with him.
Yum - who can resist a book about chocolate. I know I can't! I'm always happy to share information on how my favorite food is grown and created. I credit my students from Mexico for having such intelligent ancestors (the Incas) that decided to heat up cacao beans and make hot chocolate.
2. Hershey Chocolate Bar Fraction Book (and Hershey's Kisses math books)
Jerry Pallotta had an excellent idea when he paired math ideas with Hershey's chocolate bars and Kisses. These books were written awhile back (1999 and 2001) but the idea is timeless. Give kids food to divide, add or subtract, and they'll understand it better. You'll also be that cool teacher who lets kids play with food. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Finally we get to one of my favorite nonfiction books - it's something really special!
1. America the Beautiful
This book was shared during a grad school class a few years back. The book is quite thick and a total work of art. Each two-page spread contains a paper sculpture of a sight to see in America, following the first verse of the song, "America the Beautiful." From the Golden Gate Bridge to Abraham Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial, Robert Sabuda manages to take your breath away as you travel through the book. I can't imagine how this book is managed to be mass produced, but it's truly a treat to enjoy.
(P.S. I love to pair this book with Louise Borden's poem book, America is... These books will renew your sense of pride in our country!)