A couple months back I promised to be more intentional about finding nonfiction picture books to recommend as mentor texts for writing workshop. I’ve been looking at a lot of informational texts in that time and found a few books by the same author and illustrator team that have dazzled me.
A Rock Is Lively, which was recently released by author Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrator Sylvia Long, is the most informative and beautiful children’s book on geology I’ve ever laid eyes on! Nearly every page spread page begins with a sentence (e.g., “A rock is mixed up,” “A rock is helpful,” A rock is recycled.”) that acts as a heading. Illustrations are gorgeous. They are detailed and include descriptive captions. The information this book provides through both words and pictures helps to enhance the central meaning of the text. For instance, it includes interesting facts, but not the kinds of facts that distract young readers from what the text is really about.
I looked at the informational writing strand in the Common Core’s ELA Standards Document to determine the kinds of things this book could help young writers do in their own writing. Here are some of the things you can show your students to do by holding up this text as an exemplar for information writing:
- Kindergarten: Combine drawing and writing to provide information about a topic.
- 1st Grade: Name a topic with headings; provide facts about a topic; provide the reader with a sense of closure.
- 2nd Grade: Combine specific terminology with facts to teach about a topic; include a concluding section.
- 3rd Grade: Group related information and illustrations under one topic; use a variety of details to inform a reader about a topic; provide a section of text that concludes.
- 4th Grade: Group related information under the same topic/section; use a variety of details to teach the reader about a topic; categorize related information that teaches about a topic; select precise words/terms that convey an understanding about a topic; craft a conclusion related to the information already presented.
If your students aren’t doing the kind of work specified at your grade level, you can look at the grade level(s) that precede the one you teach so you can instruct your students in some of the things they haven’t yet mastered by using this text. After all, the most effective mentor texts are the ones that allow you to teach a variety of craft moves to inexperienced, mid-range, and sophisticated writers.
Aston and Long have written and illustrated three other books together that have the same look and feel as A Rock Is Lively. The other books in this series, which are worthy of being placed in your classroom’s basket of informational mentor texts, are: A Butterfly Is Patient, An Egg Is Quiet, and A Seed Is Sleepy. All four books by Aston and Long can be utilized by teachers who are devoting time to content area writing during writing workshop.
Here’s a peek at two of the interior page spreads from A Rock Is Lively:
This giveaway is for a copy of A Rock Is Lively for one reader. Many for thanks to Chronicle Books for sponsoring this giveaway. To enter for a chance to win a copy of A Rock Is Lively each reader may leave one comment about this post in the comments section of this post.
All comments left on or before Saturday, October 26th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Sunday, October 27th. I will announce the winner’s name at the bottom of this post by Tuesday, October 30th. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Chronicle send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.
Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who left a comment about A Rock Is Lively. Dana Murphy’s commenter number was selected so she will receive a copy of this book. Dana’s comment was:
I have never seen these NF books before! My list of ‘Picture Books to Order’ is primarily fiction, with only a few NF titles. I, also, have set a goal to find more NF text. It’s rare that I fall in love with a NF text —- but these books look AMAZING!