Cathy at Reflect and Refine and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning began this special event in 2010, after having a discussion stemming from this question: If you were stranded on an island and had to teach, what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag?
I participated in Picture Book 10 for 10 in 2010 and 2012. In my previous lists I chose a variety of picture books that I would want to have in my bag (with many on my 2010 list remaining constant). This year, I decided to only place nonfiction picture books on my list. Of course, then I took a look at Mandy’s and Cathy’s blogs and realized that somehow, I missed the Nonfiction 10 for 10 that they began in February of this year. How that happened, I’m not sure. However, I’ll go ahead with my list of nonfiction here and maybe I’ll join in with another ten for Nonfiction 10 for 10 in 2014!
Here is a list of the 10 nonfiction pictures books I would hope to have in my bag (in no particular order):
A picture book based on the life of Tony Sarg, the man behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Lesson Idea: This is a great mentor text for biographies and narrative nonfiction.
Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, from the 1860′s until the 1940′s, there were twenty-nine baseball teams made up entirely of brothers. The Acerras played longer than any other. This is their story.
Lesson Idea: Another great mentor text for biographies and narrative nonfiction.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman
The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames.
Why I Chose it: I love the story of John J. Harvey and how he was taken out of retirement during our country’s most horrific attack.
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy
Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum follows Walter Diemer’s attempts and eventual success of the invention of Dubble Bubble bubble gum. The pictures are bright and colorful and full of gumballs. The back of the book has a nice layout of further information about Walter Diemer and the history of gum.
Lesson Idea: This is a great mentor text to use as a model for nonfiction organization. Students could replicate McCarthy’s style using another topic or to write a biography.
Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
In the 1950′s Ruth and her family took a road trip from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandmother. Along the way, they met with resistance from business owners who did not want to serve African Americans. When Ruth learns about The Negro Motorist Green Book, a book created to inform African Americans of African-American friendly establishments, her family uses it to meet new friends on their way.
Lesson Idea: This is a great book to tie primary sources into. You can still find examples of parts of the Green Book online.
Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney
It was February 1, 1960. They didn’t need menus. Their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side. The story of the sit-in at Woolworth’s during the WHITES ONLY edict of the era is poignantly told through this picture book.
Lesson Idea: Use this as a model for students to write their own historically based picture book, based on an event they study.
Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
From the beginning, Noah Webster knew he didn’t want to be a farmer like the rest of his family. He wanted to be a SCHOLAR. This is the story of how he made his dream come true.
Lesson Idea: Another great biography mentor text, but also a great mentor when teaching word choice.
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival is the true story of Hurricane Katrina, friendship, and survival. . . of a dog and cat. Bobbi and Bob Cat are left behind when the hurricane hits. Never leaving each other’s sides, they overcome many obstacles, living on the streets of New Orleans for four months before being rescued. With a surprise twist, this is a true tale of the power of friendship.
Lesson Idea: This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year to begin building a community in the classroom.
Side note: I read this book a while ago. Until I went back and chose this book and looked at the author again, I didn’t realize that it was Kirby Larson! As in, Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After!
You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey
A true story about the 19th-century women’s rights activist Amelia Bloomer. A note at the end provides horrifying and fascinating information about women’s restrictive clothing (corsets sometimes displaced internal organs!) and the dress reform that Amelia Bloomer spearheaded.
Why I Chose it: There are so many wonderful new picture book biographies out now, and this is one of them. Another great example of narrative nonfiction.
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
Beautifully painted. Inspirational. This is the story of Nelson Mandela, a global icon. In Nelson’s typical poetic verse and gorgeous paintings, he shares the story of a young Mandela’s determination to change South Africa.
Lesson Idea: A mentor text for civil rights and another fantastic biography. This book is a beautiful rendition of Mandela’s younger life. I’m in awe of Kadir Nelson’s talent!
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