Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Narrative Of Nonfiction

This is the first of a three part blog series based on a presentation I gave with my mom at a summer literacy institute just the other day. We presented new nonfiction texts for the classroom (grades K-5). I want to share a few of the narrative nonfiction titles here with you (finally, I talk nonfiction on my blog!):

Jeff Corwin, TV show guru when it comes to animals, now has kid friendly books out about…animals, of course! His books range from the fictional Jr. Explorer series and nonfiction readers, both for grades 1-3 to older nonfiction for grades 3-6. Snakes (which happens to be his favorite animal) was the one I talked about. Corwin gives a brief introduction about snakes and then moves on to talk about individual types, from garter snakes to reticulated pythons. The book features plenty of photographs.

Truce by Jim Murphy (grades 4-7) revolves around WWI with a particular focus on the day of December 25th, when German and British soldiers defied orders and refused to fight, instead celebrated Christmas together. War is not ignored—Murphy explains the beginnings of WWI and the battles, plus he lets the reader know that war did continue after the one day truce. The book contains illustrations and photographs and is divided into chapters with a timeline, map, notes and sources.

Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter (grades K-3) is a story that takes place in Afghanistan and is told from the perspective of Nasreen’s grandmother. Nasreen’s father is taken by soldiers for no justifiable reason and soon after her mother, despite the dangers, goes in search of him. Nasreen’s grandmother wants her to learn that there is more to the world and so sends her to a secret school for girls, where Nasreen can explore all that education has to offer. Winter also wrote The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley (grades 2-6) views Mark Twain through the lens of his 13-year-old daughter, Susy. She wanted people to know the real Mark Twain, both positives and flaws, so she decided to keep a secret biography. This is an excellent book for writer’s workshop; it includes excerpts from Susy’s actual journal about her father. There is a wealth of information to learn about Mark Twain and his family life. The book also includes a timeline, how to write a biography, and additional resources.

Stay tuned for Parts II and III!

Corwin, J. (2009). Snakes (All Aboard Reading). New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.

Kerley, B. (2010). The Extraordinary mark twain (according to susy). New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Murphy, J. (2009). Truce. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Winter, J. (2009). Nasreen's secret school: a true story from afghanistan. New York, NY: Beach Lane Books

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