I’m preparing to teach one of my favorite preservice teacher education classes, Content Area Literacy in the Elementary Classroom in January. Many of the preservice teachers in the class remember negative experiences with nonfiction from elementary school. They read nonfiction only in the context of writing the Animal or State report, and found little enjoyment in the texts they found. I get the opportunity to open their eyes to the wonderful nonfiction books available to students now, books that excite students, not bore them.
And seems as though everyone is talking about nonfiction lately. With the Common Core State Standards requiring students to read more and more nonfiction, teachers of all grade levels are on the lookout for high-quality nonfiction to incorporate in their classrooms. Here are some of my go-to resources for nonfiction in the classroom.
In a joint project between the National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council, the organizations publish a list of outstanding science trade books, K-12 every year. The lists can be found here. Some of my favorite recent winners include: Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman (local author!), Bomb! by Steve Sheinkin, The Mighty Mars Rover by Elizabeth Rusch, and Lives of Scientists by Kathleen Krull.
Kirkus also publishes a “Best of” list which includes categories on nonfiction. Check out the categories here. One of my favorites from the “Best Middle Grade Books That Make History Come Alive” is Russell Freedman’s Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty.
Here are some other great resources:
- I follow the blog There’s a Book for That, and there is a fabulous list on nonfiction read alouds available here.
- If you’re looking for digital texts, there are many nonfiction texts available from the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project.
- And then, of course, there’s the ALA’s Sibert Medal, NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award and IRA’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards.