Some fabulous bloggers organized a 10 for 10 nonfiction event. Picking my 10 favorite nonfiction books was a challenge. Partly because I struggled to define nonfiction. I decided not to include poetry or folk tales, even though those show up in the nonfiction section of the library. I stuck with a more traditional idea of nonfiction books. Even then it was tough to narrow it down. Once I decided each book had to be by a different author it got easier! Otherwise you might see 10 Steve Jenkins' books here.
Move! by Steve Jenkins
Handstand Kids Cookbooks
Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up by Jon Scieszka
This one isn't really for my students (first graders) but is fabulous for those a little older. It is absolutely hilarious and a book that upper elementary students will quickly identify with. According to one of my colleagues, the audio book is read by the author. We've read this one at home but I think we may have to check out the audio book just to hear it in his voice. Scieszka also read one chapter of this book to President Bush and his wife when Scieszka was named the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. I love that this is what he chose to read.
Baby Animals by Seymour Simon
An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
This one has been out for a while now and I still return to it often. The pale colors and gentle illustrations are just right for this. The book offers a lot of information, but can be read without getting into all of the details. Sometimes we read everything and sometimes we just read the basics. It gets kids thinking about something as simple as an egg in new ways which helps them look at other things in new ways.
Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War by Yukio Tsuchiya, illustrated by Ted Lewin
This is another one that isn't appropriate for my first graders. I loved using this book when I taught fourth and fifth grades. It is such a sad story but is so well written it offers myriad possibilities for discussions and questions. It's a book that sticks with you long after you finish (clearly it has stuck with me because I haven't read it in more than four years).
Me ... Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Patrick McDonnell also wrote the wonderful, wordless picture book South which I use at the start of every year. He is able to tell stories in such a welcoming way. His illustrations, so similar to those of his comic strip Mutts draw you in as well. This biography of Jane Goodall is an amazing text to use with young children. So many biographies written for young children are stilted and dull. This definitely is not.
Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer, illustrated by Geoff Waring
This book always reminds me of Steve Jenkins' books. In fact, every time I see it in the library I think it is one of his. It's big, which helps with a read aloud, and it's about animals and food. Kids find parts of it gross but that's never a bad thing with young kids. The grossness just makes it that much more interesting.
Wax to Crayons by Inez Snyder
We spend a lot of time in first grade wondering about things, anything. We wonder about things outside our window, on our wonder table, at recess, or in our classroom. I love books that offer us answers to our wonders while giving us even more to wonder about. Crayons are such a common item that kids are usually fascinated to see how complex they can be.
Why Do Snakes Hiss? and Other Questions about Snakes, Lizards, and Turtles by Joan Holub
We ask a lot of questions when we wonder so a book like this is a great mentor text for us as writers. Seeing how an author takes a question and writes about the answer helps us. Plus, these questions are ones that fascinate my students. So they love it as readers and writers.
All images from amazon.com.