#KidsLoveNonfiction

This morning, Mary Ann Cappiello, Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University, and Xenia Hadjioannou, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University, sent the letter below to The New York Times requesting that the paper add three children’s nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing picture book, middle grade, and young adult lists, which focus on fiction.

This change will align the children’s lists with the adult bestseller lists, which separate nonfiction and fiction. It will also acknowledge the incredible vibrancy of children’s nonfiction available today and support the substantial body of research showing that many children prefer nonfiction and still others enjoy fiction and nonfiction equally.

We support this request and have added our names to the list. We agree that spotlighting bestsellers in children’s and young adult nonfiction will help to showcase some of the best books in children’s literature and acknowledge that not all child readers are fiction readers.

If you support this request, please follow the signature collection form link to add your name and affiliation to the more than 200 educators and librarians who have already endorsed the effort. Your information will be added to the letter but your email address will remain private.

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nonfiction books for young people are in a golden age of creativity, information-sharing, and reader-appeal. But the genre suffers from an image problem and an awareness problem. The New York Times can play a role in changing that by adding a set of Nonfiction Best Seller lists for young people: one for picture books, one for middle grade literature, and one for young adult literature.  

Today’s nonfiction authors and illustrators are depicting marginalized and minority communities throughout history and in our current moment. They are sharing scientific phenomena and cutting-edge discoveries. They are bearing witness to how art forms shift and transform, and illuminating historical documents and artifacts long ignored. Some of these book creators are themselves scientists or historians, journalists or jurists, athletes or artists, models of active learning and agency for young people passionate about specific topics and subject areas. Today’s nonfiction continues to push boundaries in form and function. These innovative titles engage, inform, and inspire readers from birth to high school.  

Babies delight in board books that offer them photographs of other babies’ faces. Toddlers and preschoolers fascinated by the world around them pore over books about insects, animals, and the seasons. Children, tweens, and teens are hungry for titles about real people that look like them and share their religion, cultural background, or geographical location, and they devour books about people living different lives at different times and in different places. Info-loving kids are captivated by fact books and field guides that fuel their passions. Young tinkerers, inventors, and creators seek out how-to books that guide them in making meals, building models, knitting garments, and more. Numerous studies have described such readers and their passionate interest in nonfiction (Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 2002; Moss and Hendershot, 2002; Mohr, 2006). Young people are naturally curious about their world. When they are allowed to follow their passions and explore what interests them, it bolsters their overall wellbeing. And the more young people read, the more they grow as readers, writers, and critical thinkers (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021; Van Bergen et al., 2021).

Research provides clear evidence that many children prefer nonfiction for their independent reading, and many more select it to pursue information about their particular interests (Doiron, 2003; Repaskey et al., 2017; Robertson & Reese, 2017; Kotaman & Tekin, 2017). Creative and engaging nonfiction titles can also enhance and support science, social studies, and language arts curricula. And yet, all too often, children, parents, and teachers do not know about recently published nonfiction books. Bookstores generally have only a few shelves devoted to the genre. And classroom and school library book collections remain dominated by fiction. If families, caregivers, and educators were aware of the high-quality nonfiction that is published for children every year, the reading lives of children and their educational experiences could be significantly enriched.

How can The New York Times help resolve the gap between readers’ yearning for engaging nonfiction, on the one hand, and their lack of knowledge of its existence, on the other? By maintaining separate fiction and nonfiction best seller lists for young readers just as the Book Review does for adults.

The New York Times Best Sellers lists constitute a vital cultural touchstone, capturing the interests of readers and trends in the publishing world. Since their debut in October of 1931, these lists have evolved to reflect changing trends in publishing and to better inform the public about readers’ habits. We value the addition of the multi-format Children’s Best Seller list in July 2000 and subsequent lists organized by format in October 2004. Though the primary purpose of these lists is to inform, they undeniably play an important role in shaping what publishers publish and what children read.

Adding children’s nonfiction best-seller lists would:

  • Help family members, caregivers, and educators identify worthy nonfiction titles.
  • Provide a resource for bibliophiles—including book-loving children—of materials that satisfy their curiosity.
  • Influence publishers’ decision-making.
  • Inform the public about innovative ways to convey information and ideas through words and images.
  • Inspire schools and public libraries to showcase nonfiction, broadening its appeal and deepening respect for truth.

We, the undersigned, strongly believe that by adding a set of nonfiction best-seller lists for young people, The New York Times can help ensure that more children, tweens, and teens have access to books they love. Thank you for considering our request.

Dr. Mary Ann Cappiello 

Professor, Language and Literacy

Graduate School of Education, Lesley University

Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Former Chair, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Committee 

Dr. Xenia Hadjioannou

Associate Professor, Language and Literacy Education

Penn State University, Harrisburg Campus

Harrisburg, PA

Vice President of the Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). 

References

Allington, R. L., & McGill-Franzen, A. M. (2021). Reading volume and reading achievement: A review of recent research. Reading Research Quarterly56(S1), S231–S238. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.404

Correia, M. (2011). Fiction vs. informational texts: Which will your kindergarteners choose? Young Children, 66(6), 100-104.

Doiron, R. (2003). Boy Books, Girl Books: Should We Re-organize our School Library Collections? Teacher Librarian, 14-16.

Kotaman H. & Tekin A.K. (2017). Informational and fictional books: young children’s book preferences and teachers’ perspectives. Early Child Development and Care, 187(3-4), 600-614, DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2016.1236092

Jobe, R., & Dayton-Sakari, M. (2002). Infokids: How to use nonfiction to turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic learners. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke.

Mohr, K. A. J. (2006). Children’s choices for recreational reading: A three-part investigation of selection preferences, rationales, and processes. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(1), 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3801_4

Moss, B. &  Hendershot, J. (2002). Exploring sixth graders’ selection of nonfiction trade books: when students are given the opportunity to select nonfiction books, motivation for reading improves. The Reading Teacher, vol. 56 (1), 6+.

Repaskey, L., Schumm, J. & Johnson, J. (2017). First and fourth grade boys’ and girls’ preferences for and perceptions about narrative and expository text. Reading Psychology, 38, 808-847.

Robertson, Sarah-Jane L. & Reese, Elaine. (Mar 2017). The very hungry caterpillar turned into a butterfly: Children’s and parents’ enjoyment of different book genres. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 17(1), 3-25.

Van Bergen, E., Vasalampi, K., & Torppa, M. (2021). How are practice and performance related? Development of reading from age 5 to 15. Reading Research Quarterly56(3), 415–434. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.309

If you support the request to add three children’s nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing lists, which focus on fiction, please add your name and affiliation to the signature collection form

Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Celebrating Black Picture Book Authors and Illustrators

This week, we’ll celebrate some incredible Black authors who write and/or illustrate picture books (and more). I worry when we use February to share books by Black authors because these books should be read, studied and incorporated into the curriculum all year. However, I do appreciate a time to celebrate the work and one event I have loved for years is NCTE’s African American Read-In. Whether you are participating or not, the authors I highlight this week have so many incredible books that have so much to teach young readers and writers. And these are 5 must-have Author Baskets in your classroom library.

Oge Mora has become a favorite author/illustator for me lately. I love so much about her work and the power of her stories for our youngest readers. Fiction, nonfiction, cumulative stories–no matter what she writes, love is a thread through all of her books. So much for readers and writers across elementary and beyond.

Vaness Brantley Newton’s Just Like Me is my go-to for baby girl gifts. The cover is one of my favorite covers of all time. Vanessa Brantley Newton writes fiction, nonfiction and poetry and her illustrations are colorful and draw the reader into every story.

Derrick Barnes is another author who writes incredible picture books (he also has a great nonfiction baseball book that I had to include because I LOVE it!). Each of these books is a celebration and I was thrilled to see that The Queen of Kindergarten is coming soon! (You may recognize Vanessa Brantley Newton’s illustrations on a few of his books.) The stories that celebrate children and the poetic language make these books must-haves.

If you’ve heard me talk books lately, you know that Daddy Speaks Love is one of my new favorites. I think it took this book and looking up the author to realize how many of Leah Henderson‘s books I love. Her writing, the topics she chooses, and her author’s notes are all gifts to readers.

Carole Boston Weatherford shows up in so many of my Text Sets (as you may have noticed) as her work is brilliant and so good across grades and ages. Her writing teaches us about people and times in history in a way that is accessible and honest. Her expertise combined with her writing means that I need every book she writes. I can always count on Carole Boston Weatherford’s work to be work I want to share with children and that I know will help us understand our world better.

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set–Authors Who Write Across Formats and Genres

Finding authors we love is also so important to any reading community, and when we find an author we love, we want to read everything by that author.I love authors whose work spans formats and genres. I love this for readers and for writers in the classroom. As a middle grade teacher, it was so important to. me that both chapter books and picture books are valued in the classroom. Making sure we had author baskets that spanned both is critical. I also love authors that children can grow up with-who have written books for a variety of stages. This week, we’ll take a look at several authors who have such a huge variety of books. This is important for our readers and for our writers.

This week, we’ll start off with the two authors who inspired this text set-Kyle Lukoff and Donna Barba Higuera. Last week, when the awards were announced, I was THRILLED to see Too Bright to See because I am a huge fan. A must read for everyone. And The Last Cuentista was one I had on order but hadn’t read yet. When I looked dup the author after she won the Newbery, I realized she had written a picture book I love-El Cucuy is Scared Too!–and I mentioned to my friend Stella, how much I LOVE authors who write both picture books and chapter books. For our readers, especially in middle grades and beyond, having baskets of books by authors who write both picture books and chapter books can put renewed value in picture books for older children. And as writers, studying an author’s body of work, across formats is always so powerful. Thinking back, I don’t think I thought hard enough about all of the author baskets I SHOULD have had in my classroom like these.

Since we are talking about awards, let’s move right to Grace Lin, who won the 2022 Children’s Literature Legacy Award!! Grace Lin has written so many incredible books–from middle grade novels to picture books, to early series books to math board books. She writes across so many formats and genres. One of my favorite authors to read and definitely a favorite to study as a writer.

Kate Messner and Jess Keating are two of my favorite middle grade writers. I love that they write fiction and nonfiction that is so engaging for this age. And they both write a great deal of both fiction and nonfiction which I love. And so many interesting topics across nonfiction. I also love how often they weave their nonfiction interests into their novels. Both authors have nonfiction series books which I am a huge fan of!

Andrea Davis PInkney and Kwame Alexander have each created such a beautiful collection of poetry in various formats and genres. These two authors have so much to offer both readers and writers. I love that both authors invite readers into poetry in various ways and also invite readers to expand what they read–once they discover one book, they’ll want to read others by the author and naturally expand the types of things they read. And our writers can learn so much about word choice, etc. Love these two!

I will read anything and everything that Jacqueline Woodson and Kate DiCamillo write. These two are both brilliant writers who understand children so well. Their books are well loved by all ages. As with the other authors, they both write such a variety of books. These are also two authors readers can grow up with, always finding something new as they grow as readers. Lucky us to have these two in the world of children’s literature.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious. If you don’t know Bookelicious, check it out today. It is an online independent children’s bookstore with an incredible selection of children’s books and many supports for young readers. Lots of great free events for teachers coming up that you can check out and register here

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set: New Series for Transitional and Middle Grade Readers

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

There is nothing like the day when a new book is released that is part of your favorite series. When I was in elementary school it was the Betsy books. Series books are so important for so many readers. And, being in-the-know about a new book by a favorite author or one that features a favorite character is such fun. This week, we’ll take a look at series books that are newish–series that have a few books at most–series that have us already looking forward to the next book. These books are perfect for transitional and middle grade readers.

If you have not read Stuntboy: In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and Raul the Third, you must read it asap! This is a great new book in a hopefully long series. This is going to be perfect for our Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain. Underpants readers to expand a bit in their reading. This book has everything-great story, incredible illustrations, real issues to discuss, strong characters and humor. There is so much to this book and series–I am excited for our middle grade readers!

These three new series (Sona Sharma, JoJo Makoons, and Definitely Dominguita) feature strong girls who bring fun and humor to their stories. I love each of these characters. I also love that the books are all heavily illustrated and are perfect for transitional readers in grades 2-3 especially. I often find it hard, as an adult to fall in love with books for this age but I fell in love with the writing and with these 3 characters. Although perfect for grades 2-3, they are really great stories for all ages. Sona Sharma and JoJo Makoons have 2nd books coming soon and Definitely Dominguita has 3-4 titles available now.

I loved the Ryan Hart series from the start and was so happy to see Renée Watson writing for a younger audience! Ryan Hart is a great character and these books are perfect for 3-5th graders. This series will have wide appeal. I think there are 2 out in the series (Ways to Make Sunshine and Ways to Grow Love) with another coming soon!

Dragons in a Bag is another series I’ve loved from the start. Fantasy is not an easy genre when it comes to transitional series books but this one is perfect. I love the length of these books as well as the characters and the stories. It is a perfect series for readers ready to start some more sophisticated books and who love fantasy. It is brilliantly done for this age. I think there are 3 available now with hopefully lots more to come!

Skunk and Badger and J.D. the Kid Barber are two series full of humor. For our readers who love humor, these are great picks. The humor is different in each but perfect for the age. (I am always amazed at authors who get humor for this age so right!) Just like a few of the others I’ve mentioned, even though they are written for transitional readers, older readers will also enjoy these. I love the characters in both of these series. The J.D. series has 3 books available now and Skunk and Badger has 2.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious. If you don’t know Bookelicious, check it out today. It is an online independent children’s bookstore with an incredible selection of children’s books and many supports for young readers. Lots of great free events for teachers coming up that you can check out and register here

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set-The Power of Repeated Words and Phrases

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week, we take a close look at the ways writers use repeated words or phrases for a variety of reasons. Repeated words give readers a clue that the words are important and an invitation to think about how. Writers use repeated words and phrases in a variety of ways to make sure their message comes through. The books shared this week can serve as invitations for these kinds of conversations with young readers and writers. Readers will have new strategies for deeper understanding. Writers will have lots of new ideas to try in their own writing.

Who Are Your People by Bakari Sellers is anchored on two phrases–“Your people were..” and “You are from…”. Each spread finishes one of these phrases. I’d start with a book like this because the repeated phrase is easily visible to readers because it is on every single page. This book invites readers to think about the meaning the phrases have the first time they hear them in the book and then how the meaning expands as they continue to read it over and over in new contexts. Often a writer repeats a phrase that we can think more deeply about every time it is used.

Butterflies are Pretty…Gross! is another book that has very obvious repeated phrases. So this shows the same idea in a nonfiction book. The phrase “some butterflies”/”some caterpillars” is repeated to let us know some “top secret” information about caterpillars. The repeated phrase reinforces that what we thought we knew about butterflies isn’t always complete. Each time the phrase is used, we learn something new. This book is humorous so the humor that goes along with the repeated phrase is worth studying too.

This newest book by Jacqueline Woodson, The Year We Learned to Fly is gorgeous and important. It is one that belongs in every classroom and library. Often a phrase is repeated by an older relative or friend and often that advice has meaning that is beyond literal. In this book, the characters’ grandmother repeats a phrase that begins “Lift your arms, close your eyes.” during difficult times. Each time she shares this wisdom, the children learn and grow. Through the children’s eyes, we can learn the bigger meaning of these words. The author’s note at the end is also important. This poetic book is filled with beautiful language and powerful words that can be studied as readers and writers.

Sometimes writers use repeated phrases throughout a book to give the reader a clue about what is coming next. Writers do this in both fiction and nonfiction. In What’s In Your Pocket? the author uses the phrase “Nobody knew…” to transition from each scientist’s childhood to their adult contributions and passions. In Bear Came Along, the word “until…” appears at the end of a spread letting us predict what is coming next. I like to show young writers how this move can be used in both fiction and nonfiction in different ways, but for similar purposes.

I just discovered Daddy Speaks Love and it is a new favorite. The repeated phrase Daddy speaks is followed by a word and an experience children have with their daddies. In poetic language the phrase plus the word says so much. The word speak is uses in a way beyond literal and each word choice is critical to the meaning of the book. Change Sings repeats a phrase “There is _ where my change sings” or something very similar throughout. Each single words adds new meaning to the whole. I think both of these phrases can be studied within the context of the text and can also be studied when thinking about theme and overall message of each book. These are more sophisticated uses of repeated phrases.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious. If you don’t know Bookelicious, check it out today. It is an online independent children’s bookstore with an incredible selection of children’s books and many supports for young readers. Lots of great free events for teachers coming up that you can check out and register here

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set: Nonfiction Poetry

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

Happy New Year! This year, when I know lots of classrooms are getting ready to start thinking about informational reading and writing, I decided to kick off 2022 with some of my favorite nonfiction poetry books. I think there is so much that informational poetry can do for us as readers and writers. Poetry invites us in to think about important topics in new ways. And it gives our students new ways to think about how to write informational pieces. I love the books that combine poetry with other forms of writing too,

The books in this series (Where in the Wild, Where Else in the Wild, What in the Wild) were some of the first informational poetry books I discovered. These are great for introducing nonfiction poetry to children because of the “I Spy/Look and Find” feature of each page. The poems in this book give information and the word choice and descriptions are incredible. As a reader, lots of inferring happens. As a writer, so much to learn!

I am so not a fan of chapter book biographies for elementary students. I prefer picture book biographies because our students can read across texts, learn about lots of people and do more in-depth work when they aren’t reading a chapter book series biography. I put biography poetry right up there with picture books. I love what books like Bravo and Shaking Things Up provide. Not only do we learn about several different people and their impacts but we learn about how an anthology works as it is around one topic or idea. The writing in both of these are incredible and many readers will find a person or two who they’d like to research further. And books like this also tend to have great author’s notes with more info. I hope we can all rethink whatever work we do with biographies and think about the goals and the types of books that best meet the goals biography reading. #biographies

No Voice Too Small and Voices of Justice would be great follow-up reads to yesterday’s titles. Both of these books focuses on people working toward justices. The writing style is different and the focus is a bit different in each so these would invite many conversations. So many pieces beyond the main poem on each page. Both of these books would be great to study in-depth.

In the Spirit of a Dream is my newest favorite poetry book. This book celebrates 13 American Immigrants. I loved reading about people I knew and people whose stories were new to me. The illustrations in this book are worthy of study as well. This is one of those books that I see being in every K-12+ classroom as there are so many entry points for readers, writers and illustrators.

The Last Straw has been on a few #TextSets because I love it. The way Susan Hood combines poetry and information is brilliant and there is so much packed into this one book, with poetry as the anchor. And this would invite an interesting discussion on the ways the poems were put together, the overarching topic and theme of the whole, etc. This book can be studied as a whole or individual spreads can be looked at individually.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection. 

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for daily books/weekly text sets!

Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Word Study and Vocabulary: Thinking Beyond a Simple Definition

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

When I think about word study and vocabulary, I always wonder how we can expand the ways our children think about words. I want them to think about words in complex ways. I know that to really understand a word, it is not simply about a definition. The books in this week’s Text Set are books that focus on looking at a single words with depth. Each author does this in a unique way and a week of sharing books like this can help students think more deeply about words and all that they can mean.

The Quiet Book and The Loud Book! are pure joy. I love them both for so many reasons. They are fun to just read aloud for enjoyment, but there is so much to each one of these. We think we know what the words quiet and loud mean until we read these books. Then we realize that there are so many different kinds of quiet and and so many different kinds of loud. These books explore this idea in such a joyful way. I imagine once children read these books, they might think of other words in new ways!

I have loved Courage by Bernard Waber for years. I love how it gives so many scenes of courage. Now I am happy that I can pair the book with the newer I Am Courage by Susan Verde. Thinking about the different ways that two authors approach a book focused on one word will start incredible conversations. Both of these have repeated lines and both do something a bit different in exploring the word courage.

These two picture books–When You are Brave and Shy each focus on a word that can mean so much. By embedding the words in experience and story, we come to think more deeply about all that the word could mean. The illustrations in each add to the meaning which is another angle to explore.

This set of books from Laura Vaccro Seeger-Blue, Green and Red– makes for more fascinating conversation as readers think about how the same and different a color can be–as well as all that the color encompasses and symbolizes. The literal meanings as well as some metaphorical meanings of these color will be naturally explored when reading and discussing these books.

There is something about choosing a word as a goal or a reminder. Often we do this on New Year’s Day as a way to set our intentions for the coming year. My Special Word is a book that can help young readers think about words and the ways they can influence who we are–you might want to check out the whole initiative when you are on the site. Choosing a word (one that remains the same or changes daily) is a concept that is written about so well for young children in My Special Word. And the newish series from Susan Verde helps readers understand this concept of “being” as connected to a specific word. I Am Peace is one of my favorite in the series.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection. 

Franki’s Weekly Text Set–   Using Guides to Help Us: Our Own Unlearning and For Use in the Classroom

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week, I am focusing on a set of books that have incredible Educator Guides. I am not usually a fan of teacher guides as in the past, they have not been responsive to student needs. And I certainly am not a fan of just any teacher guide (such as those I have seen on popular teacher sites). However, recently, some brilliant scholars have created educator guides for us to use. Many of these important guides help us, as teachers, unlearn harmful assumptions that we may bring to a text. In order to share these with students in a way that does not cause harm, these guides are critical. I so appreciate the experts who are supporting us with such thoughtful information and insights.

So I purchased the hardback, the ebook and the audio versions of this The 1619 Project Born on the Water, a must-have book. It is such a critical book, not just for children but for all of us. And the guide, written by the brilliant Aeriale Johnson is a true gift. The care that she took in writing this guide is evident. It is not a guide or a book to be read in one sitting and then shared quickly with children. Instead, we have to be mindful of all that Aeriale teaches us so that we can share the book with children. I’ve read through the guide once, but plan to revisit it several times as I learn, relearn, rethink and understand my role in sharing this important book with children.

I will pretty much buy any book from here on out that Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul has written an educator guide for. I learn so much from her-in her professional writing, in her authoring of Stamped for Kids and in her educator guides. The guide accompanying Stamped for Kids, as well as the guide for Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre both offer so much as we think about how we introduce history to children. Again, so much of the history in these books is history that was absent from my learning in school, so much of this is new learning for me. I can’t trust myself to teach this history well on my own. I appreciate so much the ability to have these guides to accompany these books.

The #DisruptTexts website has a set of really strong educator guides. These guides align with the core missions of #DisruptTexts and I trust and appreciate anything that any one of the co-founders shares about books and how we might approach them. The guides span K-12 but the guide for At the Mountain’s Base was especially interesting to me. I love that they remind me (and my students) to spend lots of time with the important author’s note. Check out this guide as well as the others published by the #DisruptTexts team.

I have been adamant about knowing who wrote the Educator Guides I share. Having guide authors who I trust is critical. However, for this “Lesson Kit” for We Are Still Here, I was unable to find the author of the guide. I read through it and the reason I am including it is that it helped me navigate the huge amount of information (much new-to-me) in the book and it also includes so many important resources to extend my knowledge. There is so much here to add to our understandings-for both teachers and students.

Heartdrum Imprint is another site that offers several guides for educators. If you do not know Heartdrum, Heartdrum is a new importing of Harper Collins that highlights the voices of Native creators. Many of the books have short guides to accompany them. The guides are helpful as they often share insights into the concepts and ideas specific to the culture represented in the book. I love that they have educator guides for series books because sometimes we don’t realize how much is embedded in this type of book for transitional readers. I love JoJo Makoons and love the book even more now that I’ve read and reread the guide. The guide is a reminder that we have so much to consider with every single book we share with children.

If you want to purchase any of these books, consider purchasing them from Bookelicious. Bookelicious is an amazing online independent children’s bookstore with a brilliantly curated collection and lots of incredible tools for young readers, their teachers and their parents.

Franki’s Weekly Text Set–Talking Bubbles in Informational Books

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

Young writers love to use talking bubbles and to play around with humor and graphics in their writing. But there are a lot of craft moves that go along with doing that well. Young readers love informational books with humor and lots of text features but the format often makes it challenging to navigate without some instruction and practice. A focus on talking bubbles in informational text will help students focus in on a few ways talking bubbles can be used and how they enhance the book. By focusing in on this one small way talking bubbles are used effectively, readers and writers will approach them in new ways. This is a great mini-unit to do before winter break as it is focused and short but will also carry into other units later because of the close study of something so specific. And I am thinking most of these books are more in the category of informational than true nonfiction although the field of nonfiction is changing a bit.

There is so. much to learn about as readers and writers from this series. The format of the pages are filled with various text and features and navigating the page takes some intentionality. In The Truth About Bears, talking bubbles are used for both sharing important information AND to add side comments as humor. The author embeds both of these types of talking bubbles throughout the text. So you can’t ignore the talking bubbles and still get all of the information in the book. So much of the new information is being told to us by the animals themselves.

Arlo and Pips: King of the Birds is a great model for sharing information embedded in story. This entire story is told through a conversation between two birds. There is text other than talking bubbles but the dialogue tells most of the story with information embedded throughout. Sometimes the information is shared by one of the characters. At other times, we enjoy a story and realize we learned something about crows from the story. Lots of great craft moves in this one!

This is a favorite series for readers K-5. Such a fun way to share information. In each of these books, we get to know a bug or animal. We are introduced through text but the creature (The Cockroach in this example) interacts with us, the reader, thorough dialogue. It is a fun way to use dialogue and talking bubbles and this book makes this craft move visible for young writers so they can try it in their own writing. Since this is the 2nd book/series they will look at by author Elise Gravel, comparing what she does with dialogue would also be interesting.

There is a lot to study in Except Antarctica! The narrative is told through regular narrative and dialogue (and the talking bubbles are not actually in bubbles but talking is designated by a specific font which makes for a good discussion). The author uses these in a way to enhance the story, to give the characters personality. But not a lot of information happens in the dialogue–most happens in the main text. The humor is well done in this and children hoping to try humor can learn a lot from how this is done.

If you don’t know Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, it is one that reader could spend hours with. There is so much information packed into this gem of a book and each page is worth study. I like this one because talking bubbles are used for so many reasons and in so many ways. Creating a chart of the ways and reasons the writer embedded talking bubbles and how each impacts the reading would be a great study. Then writers can decide if any of these ways make sense for their own writing. The combination of humans and birds that talk in this books is also worth exploring.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection. 

Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Reading and Writing: Question and Answer Format

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

I was thinking about how much elementary students love the Who Would Win? series. I never really looked closely at it but when I did, I realized what a great mentor it is. There is more to each segment than I realized and there is lots there for both readers and writers. So I’ve started to take a look at other nonfiction books with a Question and Answer format, thinking critically about these books for both readers and writers. There is no set way a Q/A book is written so when we study them, we can learn so much about craft moves, layout, organization, etc. This week’s Text Set will take a look at informational books that have a Question/Answer format.

The Truth About…series is one of my favorite new nonfiction series. I discovered Whooo Knew? last year and was thrilled to see two more books in the series. Each of these books focuses on a different animal/living creature. Each two page spread answers a question about the topic such as “Do Dogs Sweat?”. The question is then answered in 2-3 short paragraphs followed by some extra details, photos and information. Each book also includes a glossary, extra information and an activity. This is a great series to begin a Q/A format study as they are very engaging, there is a lot to each page and there are a variety of access points for readers. And this author gives writers lots of new things to try!

These two books What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? and Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Plastic give pages of questions on a topic. Even though the answers are quick, each page is worth studying for the ways the questions work together under a common topic. Part of writing good Q/A nonfiction is the ways in which the questions connect and fit under a bigger umbrella. These books are perfect to think more about that as both readers and writers. Sometimes I worry that kids love these books to just read facts but don’t do the deeper thinking of the umbrella ideas being shared. Both skills are so important. (Plus, what is more fun than a lift-the-flap informational book?)

I love the work of Nicholas St. Fleur (he does some kids informational infographic work in NY Times). His work is such a great mentor for the ways information can be organized to support reader understanding. His book. Did You Know ?Dinosaur is perfect to study… Young readers often love to spend lots of times with books like this but it is critical that we teach them how to navigate all that is on the page. As writers, thinking about ways to organize information on a 2 page spread is critical whether you are writing Q/A or some other format. Lots to learn from this one!

How Come? Every Kid’s Science Questions Explained gives readers and writers much longer answers to the questions posed. It’s important for our readers to see that most questions can’t be answered with a single sentence and this book helps to see how explanations give deep understanding to a concept. It will take stamina and strategy to read these and some would make great read aloud. As writers, there is lots to learn from these–great leads, solid explanations, intentional language and more. These are short texts that can also be used in small group work.

Writers are always trying to add humor to their books and this series by Jess Keating is a great model for thinking about ways to do that effectively. Keating shares so much interesting information but also embeds humor in a way that adds to the experience in Eat Your Rocks, Crocs and Set Your Alarm, Sloth.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.