Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: What are you reading? - 4/5/17

During March, I featured a series of books that celebrated strong women and their contributions to history. At the same time, I have been checking out a number of nonfiction titles from the library in an effort to catch up on books that I either missed from last year or from earlier this year. I still have a large stack that I am going through but I wanted to do a round-up post featuring some of the books I have been reading. 

Here is what jumped out of the pile over the past couple of weeks...

Mickey Mantle: The Commerce Comet by Jonah Winter & C. F. Payne (Schwartz & Wade, February 2017) - I am always interested in finding new baseball biographies and discovered this recent release. I knew very little about Mantle and this provided a nice introduction to this well-known baseball legend. 

You Never Heard of Casey Stengle?! by Jonah Winter; Illustrated by Barry Blitt (Schwartz & Wade, 2016) - When I was checking out the Mickey Mantle book, the librarian pulled this title and added it to my pile. I love when a librarian knows just what you will want to read. More fascinating baseball history between the pages of this book. 

Whose Eye Am I? by Shelley Rotner (Holiday House, 2016) - A unique way of exploring how animals see. I found this fascinating. 

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal; Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Little Bee Books, January 17, 2017) - Wish I had found this book soon enough to have featured it in last month's series of posts. A fascinating introduction to fashion designer, Ann Cole Lowe.

Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London; Illustrated by Meilo So (Candlewick Press, 2016) - An entertaining read as fun as the subject of the book. 

The Deadliest Creature in the World by Brenda Z. Guiberson; Illustrated by Gennady Spirin (Henry Holt and Co., 2016) - I tend to be a fan of Guiberson's work and this is a nice companion to her earlier book, The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea

Skateboards (Made By Hand #1) by Patricia Lakin (Aladdin, February 7, 2017) - Lakin explores a bit about the history of the skateboard and in particularly, one craftsman is creating his own skateboards by hand. 

Bicycles (Made By Hand #2) by Patricia Lakin (Aladdin, February 7, 2017) - As part of the Made By Hand series, Lakin gives readers some history of the bicycle and more about a business owner, who makes custom bicycle frames. 

A Beetle is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston; Illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2016) - I love this series of books by Hutts Aston and can't believe that I missed this one last year. Just as beautiful and poetic as her other titles. 

Prairie Dog Song: The Key to Saving North America's Grasslands by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore (Lee & Low, 2016) - Roth and Trumbore pack a lot of information into this picture book. It definitely requires a couple of read throughs. Readers can read the narrative story on one read and then return to learn about prairie dogs and the grasslands in the expository text. The end pages provide even more information. 

The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond (Enchanted Lion Books, 2016) - I had seen this book featured on a number of blogs back in the fall and glad to finally read it. At the beginning of the book, I was expecting more of a narrative story about polar bears, almost wondering if it was going to be a fiction text, but the writing quickly turns into an engaging expository text. 

Look for these titles at your local indie bookstore or public library. 

So, what are you reading? 

Artwork by Sarah S Brannen @2017

Artwork by Sarah S Brannen @2017

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews....

#Road2Reading Challenge: What questions do you have about early readers?

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Each week, Michele Knott and I post about new early readers and transitional chapter books. We hope that you will join in with your own posts or enter into discussion through the comments. 

Today, I did a training with instructional coaches. At a basic level, I wanted them to walk away feeling more confident in their ability to pick books and match them to readers. If they could see that it was possible to evaluate books and make good matches without the use of an app or an AR Level, then maybe they could share that understanding with the teachers they work with and as a result, others would develop the same confidence. 

It was interesting to observe as they looked at and sorted 100+ books into different levels. I found it fascinating to see which books were placed where. As small groups of teachers discussed the books in front of them, I eavesdropped in on their conversations. Occasionally, I interjected a comment. At other times, I sent a book back to the group that tried to pass it off to an "easier" level and asked them to take a closer look. Overall, they worked hard and had honest, reflective conversations with one another.  I suspect that for many they have never had this kind of discussions about books. Not because they are not interested in having the discussions but because we often don't have the time to actually look at books and talk about them. Other tasks get in the way, which is why so many teachers want an app or program to level a book for them. 

When I started this challenge, I modeled it after the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge I host on Wednesdays. It was basically with the thought that I would read a bunch of books and share a bunch of titles. However, as each week passes, I realize that early readers and transitional chapter books are a completely different beast. One that is often misunderstood and overlooked, unable to compete with their cousins known as the picture book with it's beautiful illustrations or the more developed and lyrically charming, middle grade novel, early readers and transitional chapter books are seen as a stepping stone to the next level. 

As a result, I will probably alternate sharing book titles and reviews with exploring aspects of early readers that will assist teachers working with children in this reading level to grow as a reader and as a reader who loves books. To better focus these posts, I would love to know what questions you have about early readers and transitional chapter books. Please share thoughts in the comment section below. 

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Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to check out Michele's post and link up your #Road2Reading Challenge posts below.