Thursday, May 13, 2010

May we read nonfiction?

The third grade district writing assessment -- a focus on nonfiction summary -- is just another excuse for to read fabulous and informative nonfiction aloud. We just love nonfiction, at all grade levels! Some of the books we're reading this week include:

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Explorers (5th grade standard), inventors (2nd grade standard), nonfiction (3rd grade writing prompt), and environmental stewardship (everyone)! This beautifully illustrated book hits a lot of relevant points. It's amazing to think that each of us can easily visualize underwater scenes, thanks to Jacques Cousteau. And he invented scuba gear! Neat!

There are some major flaws with this book, all great things that we were able to recognize and discuss after reading it aloud. It lacks a substantial Author's Note, a timeline, historical context, sources, a glossary, and all that good stuff that strong picture book nonfiction includes after the poetic and evocative text. (We talk often about "features of nonfiction text", so students were able to suggest features that the book lacked.) In addition, there was no discussion of diving or undersea exploration before Cousteau... and a number of generalizations and glossed-over facts that made the text sound better but lack integrity. We enjoyed spotting these; I think it would be interesting to have a mini class research project to fill in the gaps.

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Butterflies And Moths Butterflies And Moths by Nic Bishop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Some moths feed on the tears of sleeping animals! The life of a wildlife photographer includes last-minute flights to Costa Rica, breakneck Jeep rides to the rainforest, and complex arrays of laser beams! Nonfiction read-alouds are the best. I heart Nic Bishop.

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