I spent a couple of weeks pondering my theme for this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10. In the past I’ve done books I want my daughter to fall in love with as she gets older and a collection of books for Black History Month. Initially, I thought of a visual and performing arts themed list since I’ve been crushing on Masterpieces Up Close: Western Painting from the 14th to 20th Centuries by Claire d’Harcourt (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). However, I couldn’t find enough art-related picture books I admired to round out a list of ten. So, I keep thinking. I looked at Cathy Mere’s information post about the Nonfiction Picture Book Event and reread the 5 W’s section. When I reread the what line (i.e., What: 10 nonfiction picture books you can’t live without), I realized there was an obvious choice about which ten books to include. Rather than curating a new list with a theme, I could share a list of ten nonfiction mentor texts, which are ten of the books I’ve written lessons for in my forthcoming book, Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts.
Craft Moves will be available from Stenhouse Publishers in late spring. The heart of the book is filled with lessons for teachers to use with students in grades K – 6. The lessons help young writers lift the level of their writing by studying author’s craft in a variety of picture books. There are twenty picture books (Ten are fiction, ten are nonfiction texts.) for which I wrote lesson sets. Each lesson set includes a publisher’s summary, an explanation of multiple craft moves, and a procedure to take students back into each picture book (with page numbers for easy reference) to deepen their understanding of the selected craft.
The ten nonfiction books I cannot live without include biographies, narrative nonfiction, science, history, and math books. They’re the kind of books teachers can use in content areas, in addition to using them as demonstration texts in writing workshop. My ten books are:
- Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long – A Rock Is Lively.
- Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet – A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
- Chris Butterworth and Kate Nelms – See What a Seal Can Do
- Lynne Cox and Brian Floca – Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
- Bruce Goldstone – I See A Pattern Here
- Elise Gravel – The Slug
- Cokie Roberts and Diane Goode – Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies
- Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne – Big Red Kangaroo
- Seymour Simon – Coral Reefs
- Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, & Nicole Wong – No Monkeys, No Chocolate
I’ll look forward to sharing more about how to use these picture books as mentor texts across grade levels once Craft Moves is published this spring. Until then, check out these titles at your local bookstore and let me know what kinds of writerly things you would like to teach your students after reading these books.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.