Building a Nonfiction Classroom Library Part I - An Introduction to the Series

It is amazing the journeys that you can discover by taking a simple step in a specific direction. Over 4 years ago, I noticed that I had a gap in my reading. The books I tended to gravitate towards were fiction. And then The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tony Persiani won a Sibert Honor Medal. My love for nonfiction picture books was born. 

Of course, this lead to the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, which I host on Wednesdays. 

This led to more and more reading and conversations with teachers, librarians, bloggers, authors about nonfiction. 

During July, I started an on-going Twitter conversation with nonfiction children's author Melissa Stewart and teacher, Carrie Gelson. These conversation led me to work on a presentation proposal with Melissa, and to Carrie creating some awesome blog posts about how she uses nonfiction in her classroom. 

                                     Carrie Gelson's students engaged in reading nonfiction in her classroom.

                                    Carrie Gelson's students engaged in reading nonfiction in her classroom.

From our conversations, I decided to put to use all of the nonfiction reading that I do to write about creating a nonfiction classroom library. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting about book titles that should be a part of every classroom library, must-have authors, creating a range of books to meet the needs and interests of diverse readers in a typical classroom, and selecting quality books.

Since that could be an overwhelming task, I have created some parameters. First, I am focusing on a third grade classroom. Since most third grade classrooms will have readers at everything from the 1st grade reading level to the sixth grade reading level, I will be able to cover a fairly large range of books. 

Second, the majority of the titles that I will be recommending will be from the past 5 years. I find that teachers are not always able to keep current on the newest books being released, and I am hoping to introduce them to some new gems.  Additionally, with the arrival of the Common Core State Standards, children's nonfiction is having a renaissance, which has resulted in some incredible books being published.  

Finally, I am hoping to write about how learning about nonfiction text structures and writing styles can help teachers better support student learning and writing in the classroom. 

Stop by tomorrow for a look at Narrative Nonfiction in the form of Biographies, & Memoirs.  

Here are some resources to get us thinking:

Classroom Connections: Informational Texts and the Common Core by Terrell A. Young and Barbara A. Ward, Booklist Online 

Behind the Books: A Whole New Nonfiction Family Tree by Melissa Stewart

Behind the Books: More Thoughts About the Nonfiction Family Tree by Melissa Stewart

Common Core State Standards: Reading Informational Texts - 3rd Grade

Common Core State Standards: Writing - 3rd Grade

Common Core State Standards: Appendix A 

Common Core State Standards: Range of Text Types of K-5

Common Core State Standards: Range of Text Types for 6-12

Note: Some readers may say that their state is not a Common Core State or that they do not agree with the Common Core State Standards. California is a Common Core State and in my position in my District, I am working with teachers to understand and implement these standards. Though I may have my own personal issues at times with the Common Core State Standards, I have chosen to be at the table in order to influence how we select books and implement these standards. Regardless of your personal thoughts on the Common Core State Standards and its implementation, I hope that you will stop by to check out the recommendations.