Skip to content

Informational Writing that Dazzles + a Giveaway

Information about the giveaway of this book can be found at the bottom of this post.

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:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Giveaway Information:

  • 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!

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

52 thoughts on “Informational Writing that Dazzles + a Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. I am so excited to have stumbled back to this post today. I haven’t heard of the author and am in process of adding more nonfiction authors to my author/illustrator study piles in kindergarten. Looks like a good one, Library visit is in my future! Thanks for posting.

    Like

  2. I have not seen these before! These will certainly entice the kids in my class. I love the way that you can get so much out of one book and that is perfect for all grades. A great mentor text!

    Like

  3. I teach ELA in a combined 1st and 2nd grade classroom. I learned to teach reading using mostly fiction and saved informational text for the content areas. A number of years ago I embraced using many more informational texts when I discovered that the students had much more difficulty in reading them. The advantage was that, for the most part, the students were anxious to read informational text and discover things about the world! This book about rocks looks great and I would love to win it! What a great mentor text.

    Like

  4. Thanks for a great post. I feel so much more confident in finding mentor texts for fiction, but much less so for nonfiction, for some reason. I just caught a glimpse of An Egg is Quiet at the bookstore today, but was in a hurry. Next time I’m there I’ll check it out and see if they have A Rock is Lively as well. I also appreciated your suggestions regarding the CCSS.

    Like

  5. These books sound like they ignite young readers’ attention and also show across different age/grade levels how descriptive and creative informational text can be. Intriguing.

    Like

  6. As we wrap up personal narrative and prepare to dive into information writing, I will introduce this book and use the many great suggestions above. Kids love books about rocks–they are a real part of their world. Common Core is becoming a greater part of our teaching lives, so I appreciate the references to it.

    Like

  7. I am constantly looking for good non-fiction books for my 3rd and 4th graders. The connection to the Common Core is very helpful as well. I can’t wait to use these with my workshops. Thank you!

    Like

  8. I love the idea of mentoring with grade appropriate non-fiction books! This can be used in many different areas from writing, science, shared reading, etc. Great resource!

    Like

  9. Stacey, Thanks for sharing this NF text. I am not familiar with this author and illustrator. I will be on the lookout for more of their work!

    Like

  10. At our school’s recent literacy night, many parents asked for suggestions for non-fiction texts, especially at the primary grades. This looks like a great one to pass along – thanks!

    Like

  11. Love this idea! I would definitely be using this if I was still teaching about rocks and minerals in 5th grade. The pictures are beautiful; thanks for sharing!

    Like

  12. As soon as I saw this it reminded me of An Egg is Quiet which is one of my favorite nonfiction mentor texts to share with my third graders. I really want this book!

    Like

  13. Kids are fasinated by rocks and the photos in the this book will engage them immediately. I would love to use this book as a mentor text for writing non-fiction. If I don’t win it, I’ll buy it but maybe I shouldn’t say that!

    Like

  14. These books sound like great mentor texts to use with children at all grade levels in the elementary setting. I’m curious, though, about the specific age level for which it was written??

    Like

  15. These books are super with wonderful illustrations. I had not thought of using it as a mentor text. That is a great idea. I understand how easily they could be utilized for that purpose. I also appreciate the suggestion to look at the previous expectation if students are having difficulty. That should be automatic, but so often we have blinders to the specific expectations for each grade level. Thank you.

    Like

  16. I am excited to see this addition to the other books by Aston and Long. The earlier ones have been very useful for teaching developing an idea (making a generalization and then following with specific information), for teaching paragraph structure (doesn’t the sub-title of each page feel like a topic sentence?), and even for teaching pacing (in the egg book with the timelines of egg development). The language is lovely, the illustrations are enchanting, and the information is both solid and interesting. I’m so glad for another book!

    Like

  17. As the Writing Curriculum Specialist for our district, I look for mentor texts to recommend for teachers to use for all types of writing. I agree, it can be difficult to find informational texts. I have used A Seed Is Sleepy. The kids love informational texts read aloud to them, and to get double-duty as a writing mentor text is the best use of a resource. I would also recommend books by Steve Jenkins for informational mentor texts.

    Like

  18. 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!

    Like

  19. I’ve seen An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy. I’ve never thought of using them as mentor texts but you are so write the pattern would lend itself so well to mentoring young writers in the process of writing non-fiction. Plus the illustrations in these books are amazing! It would be fun to win one.

    Like

  20. What a wonderful companion to An Egg is Quiet! Thank you for this post, I was unaware of this great book! This book will be a great way to introduce and build background to first and third grade’s standards about rocks!! I would love to win this and be the “star student” that introduces this book to teachers:)

    Like

  21. I am so excited to see another title by Aston and Long! I can’t wait to see this book and to win it would be the frosting on the cake. I am very familiar with their other three texts and have used them in class. The students are mesmerized by these books which leads to lots of retreading.

    Like

  22. Our school system (and state for that matter) has thrown us into Common Core with no training and very little resources. Thanks for the gentle pushes in the right direction.

    Like

  23. I love the titles! I am inspired to read on to find out why rocks are lively and eggs are quiet… The illustrations are bold and inviting, too. Thanks for connecting the CCS as well. It helps me to think about my students and how to get them involved with nonfiction reading and writing. I also want to pass this on to other teachers. It is important for us to see that reading and writing with CCS can still be creative and fun.

    Like

  24. I love the illustrations shown here and how the information is categorized.. I appreciate the suggestion of looking back a grade to fill inthe” gaps” !

    Like

  25. This (the the other texts by Aston and Long) look ot be some very good resources. It appears that the pages are “less busy” than some informational texts and for most kids, this is a good thing. Perhaps they really are, as you noticed, trying to make sure the text focuses on big ideas and supporting details rather than being bogged down in extraneous details!

    Like

%d bloggers like this: