Nonfiction Monday: National Geographic Readers

I’ve long enjoyed National Geographic’s books, especially the beautiful photography.  The leveled readers are especially well done.  Today I’m highlighting several Level 3 readers. Level 3 readers are for fluent readers.  These are books that I plan to use with my students to highlight nonfiction text features.  Not only do they have beautiful photographs but the information is interesting and well-presented.  These books work for both learning and pleasure reading.

National Geographic also has a Super Reader Program that encourages students to read, play games, take quizzes, and earn prizes. 


by Melissa Stewart

National Geographic, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1474-2

Water is all around us; we drink it every day. In this level 3 reader, kids will learn about the water cycle, discovering how rain and snow flow into our lakes, rivers, and oceans, and later evaporate into the sky again. Vivid photography and accessible text make this book an ideal introduction to the science of water.

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by Alexandra Zapruder

National Geographic, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1352-3

Anne Frank is one of the first of many National Geographic Readers that highlight important historical figures. This level-3 reader brings an understanding of her historical significance to a whole new audience. Young readers will learn about the brave and tragic life of the young girl whose diary kept while in hiding from Nazis is one of the most important and insightful books of the World War II era. National Geographic Readers: Anne Frank explores not just the diary, but her life and the important role she played in 20th-century history.

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by Melissa Stewart

National Geographic, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1344-8

Discover the coolest robots of today and tomorrow in this colorful, photo-packed book. In this inviting and entertaining format, kids will learn about the science behind these amazing machines. This Level 3 reader is written in an easy-to-grasp style to encourage the scientists of tomorrow!

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information. 

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by Elizabeth Carney

National Geographic, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1747-7

Discover the fascinating world of Mars in this colorful book packed with amazing imagery. In this inviting and entertaining format, kids will learn about the newest information on Mars, the Mars Rover, and our ongoing exploration of the Red Planet. This Level 3 reader is written in an easy-to-grasp style to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow!


The Scraps Book


The Scraps Book
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
2014 (Beach Lane Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library

If you make a list of favorite authors in K-1, Lois Ehlert will be on that list. She has provided the illustrations for classics likeColor Zoo, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Leaf Man. Lois Ehlert is primary school cool and The Scraps Book is her coolest book yet. Ehlert invites readers to learn about the life of an artist. What inspires her? How does she approach her work? These and many other questions are answered. The first section of the book focuses on her beginnings as an artist. Her parents (There’s a lovely photo of them in the book.) made things and this inspired her. Lois’s mom sewed and shared scissors and fabric with her daughter. Lois’s dad shared his workshop and taught her how to paint, saw, and pound nails. What a terrific model for our parents today. Share with your kids the things that you are passionate about. In the following section, Ehlert drops a fantastic quote that I may post in my classroom. In talking about her early adult life as an artist, she explains that she created a lot of art but it wasn’t for books. Here is the money quote: “An egg in the nest doesn’t become a bird overnight.” The rest of the book is used to show the writing and illustrating process. There is a two page spread where Ehlert shows how she sketched out her book Feathers For Lunch. Absolutely fabulous! You get to see how she planned out all 32 pages. Other pages feature the every-day items she uses in her illustrations. This will inspire young illustrators to create their own books.

The Scraps Book, for me, is a celebration of the work of a treasured author/illustrator. Lois Ehlert is very giving in that she shares so much information that will create light bulbs over our heads. Ideas abound, with detailed notes, in this book, yet it is a just right text for young readers. I would share this book near the beginning of the year as you roll out Writer’s Workshop. It will jump start the tools that budding author/illustrators use in creating their masterpieces.

Check out more educational stuff at NC Teacher Stuff


Whoosh!: A watery world of wonderful creatures
written by Marilyn Baillie; illustrated by Susan Mitchell
2014 (Owl Kids)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Whoosh! is a book that engages children to read and be active. Each two page spread compares an animal using water and something that a child enjoys doing involving water. For example, an alligator will lay on rocks next to a river to take a good snooze while a child enjoys laying on a raft in a swimming pool. On the cover, you can see an orca blowing water through its blowhole and two children enjoying a cool spray of water. In all, eleven animals are included in this book. With each spread, readers are encouraged to be active as they act out their imaginations. I appreciate a nonfiction book that combines information and imagination. In the back of the book, there is a spread that focuses on how children use water. This would be a good opportunity to post a circle map and ask students how they use water and then add to the chart after reading this section. Following this, there is more information about each individual animal in the back matter.

If you teach preschool or kindergarten, your students will enjoy Whoosh!. It would be a good addition to a unit on animals or a unit on water. You could have a shared writing experience where you post a printed picture of several of these animals (I can’t draw worth a hoot.) and ask students to provide a sentence that would go with the animal. You could also ask students to stand in a circle and have them act out the animal that you show from the book. Young readers will enjoy the array of animals and the connections they make to their own actions.

For more nonfiction reviews, check out NC Teacher Stuff

Celebrating National Moth Week With a Good Book

National Moth Week is coming up next week, July 19-27, 2014. Why celebrate moths? Because, as the website mentions, moths are numerous, diverse and successful, yet often ignored.

How Does a Caterpillar Become a Butterfly?: And Other Questions about Butterflies (Good Question!) by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Annie Patterson would be a perfect book to pull out and read for National Moth Week.

Why a book about butterflies for moth week? Although moths and butterflies are not the same, many of the details in this book about the caterpillars and about metamorphosis overlap between the two. Also, Stewart includes detailed information about how a butterfly is different than a moth on page 24, with a gorgeous photograph of a luna moth to accompany it. The last reason is that people are more likely to relate to day-flying butterflies than to cryptic moths, so many more books are written about butterflies. Books like this one, that mention both, help children realize that moths are important, too.

Interested in learning more? There’s a longer review at Wrapped in Foil blog and an updated list of children’s books about moths and butterflies at Science Books for Kids.

It’s Raining!

It’s Raining!

written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons

2014 (Holiday House)

Source: Orange County Public Library

One of the things you should appreciate about a Gail Gibbons book is that she is able to explain processes in simple, sparse text. When you write for elementary age students, that is important. In this book, she tackles weather and the water cycle. With detailed illustrations, Gibbons explains how water goes through evaporation and condensation stages. Next, five different types of rain clouds are described with illustrations that give a great visual of each one. A great two page spread of rainfall maps around the world follows. Readers get to see how much rain falls in all seven continents. Do you think rain is just rain? Gibbons will show you that it can take five different forms and fall from five different cloud types. There is also information about flash flooding, threats to clean water, and safety tips on what to do during a storm. By reading It’s Raining!, you will be awash in information about rain.

Check out more nonfiction titles at NC Teacher Stuff.

NONFICTION MONDAY: A World of Her Own by Michael Elsohn Ross

24 Amazing Women Explorers and Adventurers

by Michael Elsohn Ross
Chicago Review Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61374-438-3
Source: Publisher for review
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


An inspiration for any young person who loves the outdoors, wildlife, or science, A World of Her Own tells the stories of 24 brave women from different cultures, epochs, and economic backgrounds who have shared similar missions: to meet the physical and mental challenges of exploring the natural world, to protect the environment and native cultures, and to leave a mark in the name of discovery. Among the many bold women profiled are Rosaly Lopes, who worked for NASA and discovered 71 volcanoes on one of Jupiter’s moons; Helen Thayer, the first woman to walk and ski the Magnetic North Pole accompanied by only her dog; Kay Cottee, the first woman to successfully sail nonstop around the world completely unassisted; and Anna Smith Peck, who set the record for the highest climb in the Western Hemisphere at the age of 58. These and other engaging profiles, based on both historical research and firsthand interviews, stress how childhood passions and interests, perseverance, and courage led these women to overcome challenges and break barriers to achieve great success in their adventurous pursuits and careers. A bibliography and annotated list of exploration resources and organizations make this an invaluable resource for young explorers, parents, and teachers alike.


A fascinating account of the lives of 24 women who worked hard to achieve their dreams despite the challenges they faced. Basically this is a collection of 24 short biographies. The amount of text makes these most appropriate for advanced high school readers who like stories about real people. It’s thanks to women like these that a lot of opportunities have opened up for women in many different fields. These stories focus on women as explorers and adventurers. To be honest, I would have a hard time doing what these ladies did, but I can admire them for their dedication and determination. This book would be great for reports as well as general interest. More photographs and fewer editorial mistakes would have been nice but I still really enjoyed reading about the remarkable accomplishments of these ladies.

For more reviews check out my blog, Geo Librarian.

Above the Dreamless Dead

Although this is not an anthology for children, it should be of interest to teens and teachers.  It could be particularly useful in meeting Common Core State Standards by combining art, poetry, history, and nonfiction.

Duffy, Chris, ed. 2014. Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)


Above the Dreamless Dead is an illustrated anthology of poetry by English soldier poets, who served in WWI. They are known collectively as the “Trench Poets.”

Poems by famous writers such as Wilfred Owen and Rudyard Kipling are illustrated by equally talented comic artists, including Hannah Berry and George Pratt. The comic-style renderings (most spanning many pages), offer complementary interpretations of these century-old poems. The benefit of hindsight and perspective give the artists a broader angle in which to work. The result is a very personal, haunting, and moving look at The Great War.

above the dreamless dead

This is the “case” for Above the Dreamless Dead. This, and many other interior photos at 00:01 First Second.


Look for Above the Dreamless Dead in September, 2014.

French soldiers of the 87th Regiment, 6th Division, at Côte 304, (Hill 304), northwest of Verdun, 1916. [Public Domain image]

 (Thanks to First Second, who provided this review copy at my request.)

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed. Or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.


Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey

Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
written by Loree Griffin Burns; photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
2014 (Milbrook Press)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Handle With Care starts with a photograph of three rows of butterfly pupae. It’s an eye-catching picture that makes you think about the differences between the pupae. It also made me think, “What is coming out of that?”. These pupae arrive in a silver box that when opened, reveals a cross between Christmas for an entomologist and Forrest Gump. Yes, a box of bugs with each in its own little slot. Just avoid the one with nougat. The box has arrived at the Museum of Science in Boston. Where did it come from? El Bosque Nuevo, which is a butterfly farm in Costa Rica. This will blow your students’ minds because they think of farms only as places that produce food. Loree Griffin Burns is extra smart and I know this because she takes this angle on page 10. That’s called knowing your audience. What follows is an account of how this farm helps produce pupae that are shipped around the world. I love the details that are provided in the narrative. We learn how farmers have to provide plates of crushed bananas and cups of sugar water for the adult butterflies in the greenhouse. The photograph on page 14 looks like a Golden Corral for butterflies. On Tuesdays, larvae eat free! You also learn that it is important for farmers to keep out other animals. Some need to be kept out because they eat caterpillars and butterflies. Others are kept out because they will eat the plants in the greenhouse. Then there’s the puparium which is a place containing cabinets of caterpillars that aren’t far from transitioning into pupae. When the caterpillars turn into pupae, they are pinned to a board so they can have a place to hang. Some pupae are shipped to places like museums, others stay at the greenhouse to create the next generation of butterflies, and the rest are released into the nearby forest.

I like that the text in Handle With Care is not wonky which makes it much easier to share with a K-2 audience. The photographs are fantastic. It would be an interesting discussion to talk about how these pictures are important to the book. The back matter is also great as you have a page about the different types of metamorphosis and another page that talks about words used to describe the life cycles of insects.

Check out the rest of the review at NC Teacher Stuff.


The Technology of Baseball

The Technology of Baseball (High-Tech Sports)
by Thomas K. Adamson (Author),

Booktalk: Take me out to the ballgame or just watch the game from your phone! From motion capture technology to software such as GameChanger and PitchTrax, the tech world has become a regular part of Americas national pastime.

Snippet: Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants pitches with motion capture sensors attached to his body. The sensors provide data that will help Lincecum’s delivery look more realistic than a video game.

Nonfiction Monday

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Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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