I’m excited about today’s Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10, which is hosted by Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge. I’m practically giddy awaiting the nonfiction picture books other bloggers will recommend. Last year I created a list of ten picture books I hoped Isabelle would embrace as she got older. Since she’s much more into narratives these days (She’s three!), I decided to create another list of ten picture books I hope she’ll embrace as she becomes more interested in nonfiction books.
Believe it or not, I’ve been keeping a stack of nonfiction books in my home office for the past few months in anticipation of this challenge. Here are the ones I decided to share today:
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and Sarah S. Brannen (Charlesbridge) — If we have to take on roles for homework help once Isabelle hits middle school, then my husband will be the math, science, and Spanish guy and I’ll be the language arts, social studies, French, and Hebrew gal. However, that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from providing my daughter with math and science experiences right now. This is why I love books like Feathers since it makes learning about the ways birds’ feathers are useful to them. Once I read this book to Isabelle (It’s a little too advanced for her right now.), we will be able to talk about the way feathers are used by the birds (e.g., blue jays, hawks, and herons) we see in our backyard, which is part forest and part wetlands. This is so exciting since it will expand our conversations beyond, “Look at the cute birdie.” (Seriously, I’m not a science person! See why I need books like this!)
Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber and Brian Lovelock (Candlewick Press) — If you read this blog last summer, then you may remember my daughter’s phobia of bees and butterflies. I bought a bunch of books to get her over those fears. She triumphed over the fear of bees, but not of butterflies. Therefore, I will be trying to rid her of her fear of bees before springtime.
Enter Flight of the Honey Bee. I will use this book with her since it will help her understand the helpful role bees play in our world. It is the story of Scout, a honeybee who has “spent her whole life in the crowded hive. Now it is time for her to fly out and explore the world…” I’m hoping that having Scout to reference when we’re out and about in the world this spring and summer will help to eradicate some of Isabelle’s fear when she sees a bee.
Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies by Cokie Roberts and Diane Goode (Harper) — A few weeks ago, “Morning Joe” had Cokie Roberts on as a guest to talk about her new book. They showed a couple of interior spreads from the book, which looked as fantastic as it sounded. Once I had the book in my hands, I discovered I loved reading since it contains the stories of women who were integral to the start of the United States. Other than the story of Dolley Madison rescuing the portrait of George Washington when the White House was burning, I was unfamiliar with the tales of many of the women featured in the book. Seeing as I pride myself on raising a strong girl, I want to make sure I incorporate the stories of this nation’s women into our conversations about history as she gets older. That means I will keep Founding Mothers close at-hand.
JFK by Jonah Winter and AG Ford (Katherine Tegen Books) — I’ve been interested in the Kennedy Family since I took a spring elective about their role in American History in high school. When I was in college I did an independent study on the JFK, LBJ, and the Civil Rights Movement with Professor Berkowitz at GW. Therefore, when a review copy of JFK was sent to me, it went to the top of my book stack. Isabelle saw President Kennedy’s smiling face on the cover, picked it up, and began flipping through it. I read several pages to her, but it was too text-heavy for her three year-old brain. Therefore, I let her go back to looking at the lifelike illustrations.
I know I will want to teach her about President Kennedy’s life: his courage and his accomplishments. This book will be a fantastic way to start… once she’s a little bit older.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson (Chronicle Books) — As you know from reading my description of JFK, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore the story of performer Josephine Baker interested me immediately since she was a Francophile (So am I, but not to the extent she was!). Baker rose up from poverty to become a dancer and actress. But she wasn’t just another pretty face. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Powell tells Baker’s story in verse. It is accompanied by Robinson’s illustrations, which are appealing to children. Therefore, once Isabelle gets a bit older (I’m thinking about third grade!), I will look forward to sharing the story of Baker’s rich life with her in Josephine.
Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (Big Picture Press) — I had a huge map of the world hanging over my desk ’til my parents had my room painted when I was off at college. Nowadays, I keep maps in my car since I never want to be reliant on a GPS. My husband and I always get two maps of museums and amusement parks since we both want to know where we’re headed. Therefore, if Isabelle follows in our footsteps, she, too, will love maps. This book will be one of those gems I want her to treasure since it features exquisitely illustrated maps of countries from all seven continents.
The maps in Maps don’t just pinpoint locations, they teach about each country. Some examples from the United States of American map include:
- A picture of a sequoia is featured in California with the explanation that “Sequoias are the world’s largest trees.”
- An illustration of Mount Rushmore with a sentence “The presidents’ heads carved into the cliff are seven stories high.”
- Cape Neddick Lighthouse, which is in the town next door to where we our family goes in the summertime, is featured on the map of the USA!
- Route 66 is featured and it says “The legendary Route 66 runs between Chicago and Los Angeles.” A dotted line shows the route crossing 2/3 of the country.
- There are pictures of famous Americans like Louie Armstrong, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, etc.
The Food Parade: Healthy Eating with the Nutritious Food Groups by Elicia Castaldi (Henry Holt & Co.) — We eat healthy about 90% of the time when we eat at home. Our house is one of those no-soda, no-ice cream, no-potato chips kind of homes. It’s not that we don’t like those foods. No, no! We love them a little too much! Therefore, we’ve eradicated them from our pantry in favor of as many whole foods as possible. Therefore, I love the way The Food Parade introduces children to the idea of healthy eating. This adorably illustrated book provides kids with information about the five basic food groups. While it’s classified as a work of fiction (Because a book with fruits and vegetables that have faces and clothes cannot be a work of nonfiction!), I put it in this list because it’s a fun way to get my three year-old engaged in a conversation about the food pyramid and portion sizes.
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman (Nancy Paulsen Books) — Last year I had Kalman’s book Looking at Lincoln on my NF10for10 list. As a history buff and a long-time Maira Kalman fan, I couldn’t resist Thomas Jefferson. This book is an informative look at Jefferson’s life and his role in writing the Declaration of Independence. However, it doesn’t mince words. It holds Jefferson accountable for owning slaves at Monticello by stating things like “The monumental man had monumental flaws.” Kalman’s message about Jefferson is one I want to teach my daughter when she begins to learn about this nation’s history. She says, “If you want to understand this country and its people and what it means to be optimistic and complex and tragic and wrong and courageous, you need to go to Monticello.” Seeing as Monticello is only a few hours away from our home, I know we’ll be taking her there sooner rather than later. This book will certainly be read several times before that visit happens!
Under the Freedom Tree by Susan VanHecke and Landon Ladd (Charlesbridge) — Under the Freedom Tree is the story of the first contraband camp during the Civil War. Just as Josephine Baker’s story was one I was unfamiliar with until recently, I don’t remember learning about the contraband camp at Fort Monroe despite the fact quite a bit of my history coursework focused on the Civil War. It’s important to me to put stories that don’t make it into most American History textbooks into my daughter’s hands.
Go to Two Writing Teachers tomorrow to check out an interview I did with author Susan VanHecke.
With a Mighty Hand: The Story in the Torah (adapted) by Amy Ehrlich and Daniel Nevins (Candlewick Press) — I had A Child’s Bible: Old Testament when I was growing up. Truth be told, I didn’t love it. I found it kind of drab. Thankfully there are books like With a Mighty Hand on the market now. This version of the Torah is a visually appealing and accessible version of the Old Testament. It’s written in as plain of English as you can get for the Bible. This is important to me as a parent and as a learner since I struggle with interpreting the Torah. Too many commentaries in the sidebar can be confusing. With a Mighty Hand is written with kids in mind, which makes it accessible for people who are new to Torah study to enjoy.