I am trying to use Twitter more in 2015 (and get involved in social networking); in doing so, I came across a tweet today about the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge of 2015. Naturally, I signed right up! I love reading nonfiction picture books. Plus, with the Common Core State Standards focus on nonfiction, reading nonfiction books helps to build our library’s collection as well. Looking at my Goodreads, I read 60 nonfiction books last year (from picture book to YA). In 2015, my goal will be to read 80 nonfiction picture books and to tweet on at least 40 of those titles. Here’s to a great start for 2015! My first nonfiction book of the new year was published in 2014- hadn’t gotten to reading it yet: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming.
The kindergarten students have been learning what fiction means. They like to use words like fake, make believe, and not real to describe fiction. I also add the phrase “from the author’s imagination” because fiction starts there. To help them identify reasons a book is fiction we start by looking at things that are easily recognizable as fake: animals talking and animals acting like people (dancing, driving cars, etc). Then we dig a little deeper into that “from the author’s imagination” meaning of fiction. The students have had a lot of fun last week and this week looking at fiction titles: Pete the Cat and the New Kid, Here Comes Santa Cat, Ssh! We Have a Plan, and (my personal favorite) Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads. When we return from our two-week vacation, we will investigate nonfiction books.
Last week, due to technology woes, my fifth graders were had a free day in the library; the perfect time for a fun activity involving reading: Read Arounds. I learned of Read Arounds from a conference workshop with Steve Layne. His passion for reading is contagious! A Read Around is like speed dating with books. When I explain it to my fifth graders this way, they all laugh and think I’m crazy. But when I explain that they get to look at 15-20 books before class ends, they settle in. Students are given a book to look at, but not for very long- only 30-60 seconds. The idea is to peak their interest and give them more books to look at before class ends. When students are told to pass the book, they are able to hold onto the book for one pass if they want to. It can be hard to know if students are engaged during the Read Around (it is so quiet!), so I take about five minutes at the end of class to talk about the books; it is my chance to show the students how excited I am about the books, too. (Okay, I really gush!) After we talk, students are given time to write down any titles they want to read and/or checkout that day. This is when I know there is excitement! Students are writing down titles! At our most recent read around, I featured some of Steve Sheinkin‘s (one of my favorite nonfiction authors!) books (Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, Port Chicago 50, and Bomb). All three titles were checked out that day! The timing was perfect because we are hoping that Steve Sheinkin will be visiting the Rochester Public Library in the spring.