Children often have a favorite topic to write about. They return to the topic and use the same genre in sharing their information. For example, if a child loves his dog, he often will write a story, a narrative. This writing practice is a great start.
One way to broaden children’s understanding of genres is to present books on the same topic with different formats. You can compare and contrast different books on the same topic. Dinosaurs. Trucks. Bears. Show them how this information can be shared out through a narrative, informational text, poetic nonfiction, poetry, all about, etc.
Three books I found recently lend themselves to this kind of study.
Circular/ Bookends – begins with a bug that looks small on a big leaf but is a small leaf to a big tree, and continues (begins with the topic of bugs but is only one part of the book versus the other books are all about bugs)
Each two-page spread features the bird on one side with a simile sentence describing how the feather benefits the bird. For example, feathers are like sunscreen, help them float, carry items, keep them extra warm. A text box explains the feather’s use in more detail. An added bonus is the geography reference, siting a place the bird can be found around the globe.
Colby Sharp asks Melissa Stewart why kids need to know the five types of nonfiction texts. View the YouTube video here (9 min).
Savorings for FEATHERS:
Hybrid text – text boxes
Geography – links the birds to areas around the globe
Tammy Shultz and I present our top book picks of the year. I always have a difficult time narrowing my choices; there are many books to choose from. We do not necessarily choose the newest books (Donalyn Miller keeps me updated). We choose books that have appealed to our kids this past year. Curious Critter is a book I loved. It’s funny and the kids react to the creatures talking to them. I had it on my slide show when I reviewed last year’s books; I realized Tammy had shared it as her book last year. Makes sense. Great book!
Curious Critters is a nonfiction text with voice! I was drawn to the captivating descriptions and features of the creatures. David FitzSimmons illustrated the photographs on a white background, emphasizing the details of the critters. A website features the critters. Click here to see what’s new.
His second book, Curious Critters Vol. 2, is available. When you click on the title, the link will allow you to preview a few pages. Fascinating!
View the YouTube video (1:20 second) book trailer. Your students will be intrigued!
Savorings for reading and in writing for Curious Critters:
Point of View – the critter talks to the reader
Voice – The goldfish says, “Let’s play a game: I’ll flip my fins and swim around in this aquarium, and you throw in some food. Sound good? Great?”
Allitoration – decorating daisies
Transitions – one creature will connect to the next
Reptiles and amphibians are not creatures I want as pets. My boys have always liked them, so we would read out them and observe them at the zoo. Frogs are creatures I can tolerate. No, I don’t want to touch them, but their coloring is brilliant and stunning. They are down-right cute (as long as they are behind glass). I guess that’s why I fell in love with the book, Red-Eyed Tree Frog. It is one of my favorite touchstone texts.
Scholastic copyright 1999
The shortened text is packed with rich writerly craft. Joy Cowley introduces the red-eyed tree frog to children in a connecting way. She focuses on the way the creature needs food, just like humans. She invites children to interact with the text by asking key questions. In the back of the book, Joy features two pages of information to deepen the curiosity of the young biologists.
Nic Bishop exquisite photos will hook your children. He allows the reader to meet the frog up close and personal. His photos of the frog waking, jumping, and finally eating are focused and intimate. The book will be well sought after by all your young readers.
Savorings for reading and writing for Red-Eyed Tree Frog:
I keep thinking: “Why is the book intriguing?” I think it’s because the quick-bit informational layout just wets my appetite.
The information is unique. I want to learn more. At the end, each animal is featured with an extending paragraph of facts. It’s just enough to satisfy for the moment yet also invites the reader to do more research on their own. Steven Jenkins and Robin Page use a question and answer structure to talk to their reader in How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?
Each section begins with a question about the animal illustrated. The next page gives a quick synopsis of each. Extending information about each icon is provided in the back of the book
Savorings for reading and in writing for How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?:
Big question on each page
Predicate – verb, article modifier and noun – hatch an egg
Illustrations give answers – small creature – reptiles, birds, fish, animals, insects
Gail Gibbons writes wonderful nonfiction texts for children called Ice Cream: the Full Scoop. Her books are excellent mentor texts for “All About Book” unit of study or any nonfiction writing.
Besides ice cream being a favorite comfort food for me, the book appeals to me through Gail’s voice. Gail has a sense of her audience. Not that other authors don’t. Her choice of words, uniquely crafted sections, flow easily for a young child to grasp. Gail speaks to me, the reader. Notice how her introduction makes you pleasantly agree and then addresses you with a sprinkle of history. who would have thought a first grader would even listen to events years ago. Yet Gail Gibbons does it. Listen to her.
“Almost everyone loves to eat sweet, cold ice cream.”
I’m thinking – Umm Hmm. Yep! You turn the page and she says,
“No one really knows how or when the first ice cream was made.”
Really? Wow. In this day and age of information, that’s amazing. Her illustrations feature children and adults to appeal to their level, making them feel welcome.
Gail Gibbons uses subsections in her book. It’s like Gail wrote a feature article on ice cream. The subheadings break the book into sections. The she decided to illustrate that information and changed structure to a narrative nonfiction text. Creative.
Savorings for reading and in writing Ice Cream: the Full Scoop:
Magic of 3 Introduction – cones, bars, sodas
Narrative Nonfiction – history sprinkled in
How to section
Chapter like with Sub Sections – introduction, ice cream maker, ice cream business, modern-day, conclusion