Monday, August 22, 2016

Fun Nonfiction Picture Books

I am in love with Elise Gravel's Disgusting Critters series. These accessible books will fit perfectly in every library. I know first and second graders who will happily shriek their way through the book, but my fifth graders will also learn something as they breeze through the pages. My mission is giving them access to as much fun nonfiction as possible, so even if the reading level is low for them, a positive nonfiction reading experience is worth a lot!

The Slug is helping me come to terms with the fact that I stepped on one barefoot about twenty years ago. I can still feel it, so spent a lot of time shivering and remembering as I read this book. There was a lot that I didn't know about slugs, like that they have a breathing hole on the side of their head (I wonder how that is different from a mouth, since isn't that what a mouth is?). I was slightly charmed when I learned that they follow each other's mucus trails to find a partner to mate with? Will I ever like slugs or stop thinking about how it feels to squish one? Probably not, but I know more about them now!

The Worm is another treat from Elise Gravel about an insect that is really little more than a digestive tract inside a muscle tube. Gravel manages to make worms cute, although I wondered why all the illustrations had eyes when the book makes a big point out of the fact that worms don't have them! Perhaps the drawings would be too creepy without them, but I wondered if that would be confusing for young readers. While I didn't like it as much as The Slug, I would add this and the rest of the series to my collection and listen to my developing readers squeal!

After reading Meghan McCarthy's Earmuffs for Everyone!, I asked our librarian to add another by the author to our collection. She chose Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, which has such a fun cover.

Inside, readers learn about Walter Diemer, who was the first to create bubble gum. As we find out, people have been chewing variations of gum since ancient Greece, but never was it as fun as in the 1920s, when Walter did his experiments. As in Earmuffs, McCarthy emphasizes the effort and perseverance which goes into being an inventor. I want my students to realize that it takes hard work to create something incredible.

While not as chock full of information as Earmuffs, I found this book to be more straightforward and easier to follow. As always with McCarthy's books, there is a lot of fun information in the final pages.

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