Thursday, November 24, 2011

Celebrate Picture Books All Year: Nonfiction Selections

SECRETS OF THE GARDEN by Kathleen Zoehfeld with illustrations by Priscilla Lamont (Knopf) is subtitled FOOD CHAINS AND THE FOOD WEB IN OUR BACKYARD. Science teachers will appreciate this examination of how the food chain works as well as the information on things kids can do in their own backyards. Though a fictional story, there is plenty of fact here. <599>

Ruth Kaiser's THE SMILEY BOOK OF COLORS (Golden Books) takes ordinary objects and looks at them from a different perspective. See, on the cover, how a handbag, an electrical strip, and other objects become smiley faces. Pair this one with Arlene Alda's ABCs and some of Tana Hoban's work such as LOOK AGAIN for good ways to show kids how to look at things and see more than meets the eye initially. <600>

MRS. HARKNESS AND HER PANDA by Alicia Potter with illustrations by Melissa Sweet (Knopf) is the true story of a woman whose husband died while on a trip to China to bring a panda back to America. And so she decided to complete his expedition at a time (1936) when women most decidedly did not do that sort of thing. Harkness was successful in her quest and returned to America with Su Lin (a little bit of something cute). <601>

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY is billed as a MOSTLY TRUE STORY by Margaret McNamara with illustrations by Barry Blitt (Schwartz and Wade). In a book that is story with factual notes on the pages as well (at the bottom of the page in different type face and in a box), readers will learn about young George and his adventures and dreams. An afterword by George himself will delight readers. <602>

Journey back in time to meet A BOY CALLED DICKENS by Deborah Hopkinson with illustrations by John Hendrix (Schwartz and Wade). Here is a perfect book to let kids know about an author whose work came from his own childhood experiences as a street urchin of sorts while the rest of his family languished in debtor's prison. Later, introduce readers to Diane Stanley's biography of Charles Dickens, DICKENS: THE MAN WHO HAD GREAT EXPECTATIONS. <603>

10 VALENTINE FRIENDS by Janet Schulman with illustrations by Linda Davick (Knopf) is a counting book perfect for sharing at Valentine's Day (of course). Rhyming couplets explain the card choices made by each of the ten friends. <604>

Anita Lobel tackies colors and numbers in 10 HUNGRY RABBITS (Knopf). Join the rabbit family as they gather yellow peppers, red tomatoes, blue blueberries and other veggies and then wait for Mama Rabbit to make a delicious meal from their harvest. <605>

Set in Africa during the Great Depression here in the US, MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN by Mara Rockliff with illustrations by Ann Tanksley (Knopf) is the story of a young student who is distressed when her teacher talks about how so many people in America are going without food and shelter in the tough economic times. Though her own village has little, she manages to convince everyone to donate what they can to send to America to help. Until she does this, her heart will not sit down. Based on a true story. <606>


  1. Lots of great picture books and I especially love My Heart Will Not Sit Down. I look forward to sharing this with my SS students.

  2. They all seem great. The biographies are cute and are appropriate for the little one. When I ued to teach Kinder I had a hard time finding biographies that were age appropriate and appealing to the little ones. These two seem to cover those two points. MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN isn't just a book with an endearing story but it could also be used to send a message to the reader. The counting books are great. One can never have enough counting books or books with personality.

  3. As a resource special-education teacher, I appreciate non-fiction picture books. They often allow my students who are struggling/ lower-level readers to participate in general ed classroom assignments (i.e. the picture biographies would work for the general biography-reading unit).

  4. I think my students will enjoy this book unlike other books that focus on George Washington's adult life this book focuses on his life as a child. I think students will be able to relate to this character because of age and will be more engage as its a picture book biograph geared toward younger audiences.

  5. With CSCOPE, our students read many biographies. I think several of these would be great for some of our more reluctant readers...especially A Boy called Dickens.

  6. LS5385
    All these books are excellent selections for students in an elementary setting. Especially the counting books for early childhood students. I especially like the SECRETS OF THE GARDEN.

  7. The biography picture books are a great way to connect young readers with history. The colorful illustrations will draw them into the life story of the characters.