Friday, February 19, 2016

It's Time: 2016's Nonfiction 10 for 10 Event is Today #nf10for10

It's finally here.  Today is our nonfiction picture book event:  #nf10for10.  This is our 4th annual nonfiction event.  In the past Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning, Julie Balen of Write at the Edge, and I have cohosted this event.  Again this year all activity will be collected on our Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  Stop by to read, share your favorites, and/or link up.

Ways to participate:
  • Write a blog post with your 10 favorite nonfiction books and link your blog to our Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community.  (You will be unable to post until you have requested to join.  I'll try to keep an eye on requests all day.)  
Add your 2016 nonfiction post here.
Please note:  If you've participated in past events, we would love it if you could add your previous posts to the tabbed year of the event.  We're trying to recreate past resources.  

Maybe I've changed my mind three or four times about the focus of this list for this year's nonfiction picture book event.  It's really not unusual.  When we first created this event, my hope was to fix my nonfiction book gap.  I'm always on the learning curve when it comes to nonfiction.  Personally, I read quite a bit of nonfiction, but when it comes to working with young literacy learners I have to work to weave nonfiction into our workshops.

So this year, I have decided to share ten nonfiction picture books by authors I just can't live without.  I'm always looking for nonfiction books that approach this type of writing in new ways.  (So a few these books might walk the line between fiction and nonfiction.)  Here are ten authors I can't live without in my classroom library.  I hope you'll share some of your favorite authors in the comments below.

Here we go:

Steve Jenkins is really one of my favorite nonfiction picture book authors.  You just can't go wrong with his books, and there are possibilities to span the grade levels.  His texts are always engaging for students, and the structures are varied enough to model many possibilities for student writing.  This book, Creature Features, is written by Jenkins and Robin Page.  The pages begin with a question about the creature.  The creature then answers the question with a bit of information.  This book inspires wonder and opens the door to curiosity.

I love the way Jenkins takes a topic and thinks about it through a new lens.  Some of my favorites include:  What Do You Do With a Tail Like This, Time to Eat, and Actual Size.

April Pulley Sayre is another can't miss nonfiction picture book author.  My attraction to Sayre's work is her way with words.  She really has a gift for making language that will roll off your tongue.  Her books are always perfect for read aloud.  Like many of her books, Sayre's Woodpecker Wham!, illustrated by Steve Jenkins, has a literary flow, but is filled with interesting information in the back to tell you more.  Her books are sure to inspire wonder as her words draw you in and make you want to know more.  Some of my favorites include:  Raindrops Roll, Eat Like a Bear, and Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out.

Nicola Davies is the master of combining narrative and nonfiction.  In one of her newest stories, I Don't Like Snakes (illustrated by Luciano Lozano), she does just that once again as the story of a girl who doesn't like snakes --- living in a family that does --- shares her story.  The narrative sitting beside interesting facts about snakes is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Yes, the lines of nonfiction and narrative can be quite blurry but, it's one of the things I love most about Davies' work.  A few other favorites:  Surprising Sharks, Outside Your Window, and White Owl, Barn Owl.

Melissa Stewart is another must have in every classroom library.  Melissa has a wide variety of texts for students to read and enjoy.  I appreciate the variation in text structures she uses, proving that intentional decision making is important in sharing a message with readers.  Feathers:  Not Just for Flying (illustrated by Sarah Brannen) is one of my favorites.  What kids haven't spent some time collecting feathers? Stewart gives readers a way to think about studying them closely.  A few of my other favorites:  Frog or Toad, No Monkeys, No Chocolate and don't miss her National Geographic Reader titles --- always a hit.

Joyce Sidman is another author to consider as you find nonfiction for your classroom.  I like to have a variety of author style's in my classroom, and poetry can't be missed.  Sidman's ability to weave poetry and information is engaging.  Her work certainly opens the door for young writers as well who might like to combine information and wondrous words.  This book combines beautiful illustrations by Rick Allen, poetic words, and information not to be missed.  Other collections not to be missed:  Just Us Two, Swirl by Swirl and Dark Emperor.  

Sandra Markle is a recent addition to my nonfiction author list.  More and more I come across books and say to myself, "I didn't know this was written by Sandra Markle."  Like Stewart, Markle varies her style to match her purpose.  Students enjoy spending time with her books.  One of the books I'm seeing students pick up over and over again is part of a What If Scholastic series.  What If You Had Animal Ears!? sure makes you ask a lot of questions.  With illustrations by Howard McWilliam, students will spend much time looking at pictures and reading interesting facts.  A few other favorites:  How Many Baby Pandas?, Snakes:  Biggest, Littlest......and I must get my hands on a copy of Build, Beaver, Build.  

Nic Bishop's titles are plentiful.  His books seem to be a bit more informational and follow more of what I might expect from traditional (for lack of a better word) nonfiction with its facts and photographs.  Kids are memorized by his titles and there is certainly plenty to choose from.  The photographs really pull the reader into the books.  Other favorites:  Is It an Insect, Red Eyed Tree Frog, and Fantastic Flying Squirrels.  

Jennifer Ward.  I'm just getting to know Jennifer Ward's work, but I am enjoying what I have found so far.  You may have noticed I have a bias toward books that fall more toward the literary side of nonfiction; books that can be read aloud and make students want to hear more, know more.  Mama Build a Little Nest (illustrated by Steve Jenkins --- he's a busy man) was the first one I discovered, but I soon found she has many more worth checking out.  Ward has several picture books:  some fiction, some sitting the border of fiction and nonfiction, and many more coming in the next few years.   Keep your eyes on Jennifer Ward.

Jane Yolen is one of those "go to" authors that never lets you down.  We typically think of her narrative work, but I also love Yolen's poetry.  I have a soft spot, for what I will call nonfiction poetry:  poetry that weaves facts into a poem or uses shared facts to help build the poem.  An Egret's Day (with photographs by Jason Stemple) is among my favorite.  Bug Off, Birds of a Feather, and Least Things.  

Andrea Davis Pinkney.  I can't complete this post without considering biography and historical nonfiction.  It seems to me that this is one genre that is opening new doors for picture book readers.  Authors are bringing important stories into our classrooms in a way children can understand.  Andrea Davis Pinkney is an example of an author that is doing just that.  One of my favorite titles is Sit-in:  How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (illustrated by Brian Pinkney).  Others to consider:  Ella Fitzgerald, Martin and Mahalia, and Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride.  


  1. Wonderful list. I have "Feathers" on mine, too, Cathy. I know many of Jane Yolen's books, but not this Egret one, so thanks for that. And thanks for hosting #10for10, much fun to see what everyone shares!

  2. Love your choices! I would have to agree that they would be mine as well!

  3. Love these! Ooh, "informational poetry" - I think I might have my category for next year! Thanks for this great event.

  4. Amazing list, Cathy!
    I know many of these, but not Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down. I haven't seen it in my local bookstore. Time to head to Amazon!

  5. We love the way you organized this post - In classrooms, we often study fiction authors but not nonfiction authors. This post is going to inspire new ways to think about author studies. Thanks for telling us about An Egret's Day. We love Jane Yolen's work but haven't read this book.

  6. I love the variety of books here, Cathy - they span so many interests. Loved seeing Jenkins included - he is amazing, isn't he?

  7. You have some of my favorites AND some "new to me" titles. (Love having Prime!)

  8. OMG - you are the biggest rule breaker going! BUT you were sneaky, just 10 photos but the additional titles are within the text. I can't decide if you are an over achiever or trying to stress participants out!

  9. I also love poetry about nonfiction. Jenkins is a genius. Just ordered I don't like snakes because I can't stop thinking about narrative and nonfiction every since I read Newark's new book.

  10. These are wonderful nonfiction authors! I also love Jason chin and Laura Purdie Salas!

  11. Thanks for cohosting today's event, Cathy. I, too, am a nut about Steve Jenkins. Thanks again.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  12. I love so many of these, & some are on my list too! The one I've seen another place too, & don't know that I'll definitely find is Yolen's An Egret's Day. I'm sure it's wonderful! Thanks for the list, & for hosting, Cathy.