Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Hello my long lost blogging friends!  I know, it's been awhile... and I could give you the long list of why I haven't been around here lately, but I'll save the pity sob story and just continue with the blog post.

If you follow any sort of teaching blog, you are probably familiar with the 10 for 10 picture book blog posts that happen each August.  I have been a big fan of this event, and love to stalk other teaching blogs for book recommendations...especially right before the school year begins.  This has been something that I've wanted to dip my toes into for a long time, however I always chicken out at the last second as I think about how there is no way I can recommend books like the rest of you people in 'blog-land.'

I recently stumbled across the nonfiction version of 10 for 10, and thought I'd bite the bullet and finally post some book recommendations.  What better way to get this blog up and rolling again, huh?  This year, I've really tried to up the ante to get some high quality nonfiction in the hands of my fifth graders.  As I think about reading nonfiction in elementary school, I don't have the best memories.... actually, I have very few memories.  So I am excited to learn from others and grow my nonfiction library. So, without further adieu, here are the top nonfiction books that are currently on the shelves in room 18:

This is one of my favorite nonfiction books to introduce to 5th graders... especially boys who are reluctant to dive into this genre.  This is the story of Negro Leagues, and about the leaders who rose up to overcome segregation. The illustrations by Kadir Nelson are unbelievable.  In fact, everything  illustrated by this man is breathtaking. It was hard for me not to create a list of 10 books not written or illustrated by this man.

So, instead of choosing all 10 books from Kadir Nelson, I decided on just two.  This book, Heart and Soul is the beautiful story about America in a time of change.  In a time of overcoming differences and working together for education.  Again, this story has beautiful pictures that I could and sometimes do, drool all over.  Nelson is an incredible writer and illustrator, who is able to tell a story in a powerful way through joining words and pictures together.

 For a while, I would get really upset when I realized our classroom library was missing a book I had purchased.  I have never been a fan of the book checkout systems in classroom libraries (mostly, because they seem like a lot of work.)  I recently read a quote somewhere.. and I can't remember from who, that said losing a book meant another reader had gained one... or something along those lines.  Anyway-- where I'm going with this is that EVERY copy of this book in this series has been "misplaced" from our library.  This is an awesome book, filled with unbelievable, jaw dropping facts.  This is a great book to pull to fill those 5 awkward minutes while waiting for lunch, or having someone read aloud during restroom breaks or transitions.

 One World, One Day is a book about perspective.  This story is told through beautiful photographs that capture a day in the life of kids all over the world.  From brushing their teeth, to going to the store, heading to school and playing outside.  This story allows us to travel to other parts of the world to see how our normal routine might not be the norm for others.
As much as possible, I try to bring nonfiction into science and social studies.  I am typically on the hunt for quality literature in these areas... because let's face it, just using a text book, is not a good use of resources... and it's quite boring!  A Drop Around the World follows a single raindrop in it's journey through the water cycle.  Students get to see just how one drop makes it's way through our world.  I especially like the way this is told through poetry.  Rich language and description explain the cycle of H20. 

This list wouldn't be complete without a book by Steve Jenkins.  I could have chosen any one of his books for my list, but decided to go with a popular choice in Room 18:  Bones.... which of course, is very interesting to 10 year-olds.  I love that Steve Jenkins presents information is a simple way, then gives more complex info at the end of the book.  This allows us in upper elementary to extend thinking even further.  He uses comparison, so we can see just how big a leg bone of an elephant is compared to that of a stork

Owen & Mzee: Language Of Friendship
What is cuter than a baby hippo being best friends with an 130 year-old turtle?  And it actually being a true story?  I love this book, especially at the beginning of the year, or recommending this book to a student who might be having a rough day.  This is an awesome addition to any library!

We just recently read this book as a read aloud in our classroom.  I might be a little behind the times here, but I have never formally read a nonfiction book as a read aloud over an extended period of time, and I have to say.. I really enjoyed it.  We had the opportunity to have many conversations about note taking, and picking out the big ideas within nonfiction.  This book also introduced a lot of new vocabulary within the context of the story.  Two thumbs up!

There is a point every year, when a fifth grader brings this book to me with pages literally falling out of it.  This book has more tape inside of it than any other book in our library.  Which makes me think it is well loved.  I love the way that James Swanson has set this book up... the characters in the beginning of the story, the photographs embedded within the story, and the map that shows where everything took place.  This is such an interesting book to talk about with kids. The efficiency of how people could communicate back then is mind blowing to these kiddos who can contact people with their thumbs.  An awesome way to look at how our ability to communicate has changed!

Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Okay, I'm going to be honest with this one.  I have heard nothing but fantastic reviews about this story.  It has won many awards, and raved about on countless blogs I routinely browse.   I was so excited to get this book for our library, and I honestly couldn't get through it when I began to read!  I told my students about my inability to finish it, and several of them picked it up and biting at the bit to read this book.  Although this isn't my personal favorite, it has taught me to be honest about my reading life with my students.  It's helpful for them to see that sometimes, I struggle too!

So there ya have it, folks!  This honestly wasn't as scary as I had made it out to be...whew!  Now, I'm off to read all the other wonderful posts about nonfiction.  I will apologize to my Amazon credit card in advance.  

1 comment:

  1. Micaela,
    I'm so glad you decided to dive into the event this year. First of all, I'm always happy to see someone getting on (or getting back on) the blogging wagon. There's so much great thinking shared. Secondly, I really enjoyed your list (and the tone of your writing). You have a lot of great titles. Last year, I wanted to check out One World, One Day and I still haven't done it! Reserving it now!

    Thanks for sharing your list. I'm hoping we'll see you in August --- and many more times in between.