Noteworthy and Nourishing

September

In my post yesterday, I talked about Melissa Stewart’s five genre classifications and how I hope to highlight some nonfiction picture books in our blog. Below are the five genre types that Ms. Stewart created with a brief description, so you can ponder my genre choices of the books shared.

  • Traditional: what we typically think of with nonfiction – writing/prose that explains, describes and informs the reader – mainly text with illustrations or photos alongside. (Think: True Book series and author Seymour Simon books)
  • Browseable Nonfiction: writing that has short amounts of texts in a block- like layouts with illustrations. (Think: Guinness World Record Books)
  • Narrative Nonfiction: tells a true story or experience, has a setting and real characters, a central theme and usually follows short story structure (rising action, climax and resolution). (Think: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla)
  • Expository Literature: well researched, engaging design, art and layouts with rich language and a particular text structure (Think: Jess Keating’s World of Weird Animal series, Pink is for Blobfish, Cute as an Axolotl)
  • Active Nonfiction: the result of the maker movement writing that teaches skills and has readers engage in an activity or activities. (Think: Cookbooks and How to Books)

So without further delay, here are some great Canadian nonfiction books in publication order.

Canadian Women Now and Then: More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers

Author: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrator: Maia Faddoul 

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: April 7/20

With so many books celebrating the many accomplishments by females published recently, I am happy to see Canada represented. This book covers a wide range of Canadian Trailblazers organized alphabetically by their area of significance. From Actors to Writers, there is a vast area of topics such as Astronauts, Paralympians, Lawyers, Culture Keepers, in other words, something for everyone. Readers are introduced not only to the trailblazers who created the path but an individual who is leading the way today. The book uses a 2 page spread with a Now and Then title. Each page highlights who is currently carrying on the inspiration while the next page highlights the woman who paved the way. Each trailblazer has a one-page short biography highlighting the achievements in their given area. A strong addition to classroom and school libraries.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Expository Literature – well researched, simple effective layout, descriptive text structure but also uses a cause effect with the Then and Now although in a reverse format

A Last Goodbye

Author: Elin Kelsey

Illustrator: Soyeon Kim

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Release Date: April 15/20

In this simple, yet specific poetic text, readers learn about the way distinct groups of animals deal with the death of one of their own. Gently, Elin Kelsey shares the different ways that animals help relatives in their final moments, how they mourn and what they do with the loved one afterwards. Some of the animal groups specifically mentioned are whales, chimps, elephants, gorillas and magpies. A unique book to support young readers to open discussion about loss – perhaps that of a pet and see how other animals grieve.

The artwork adds beauty and eloquence to the sparse text drawing the reader into small scenes. The endpapers show the complex process of how the art collages were created and photographed. A weblink also provides additional information and ways to use the book with readers. An open and honest way to explore a certainty in the lives of everyone, and provide an avenue for readers to talk about death.   

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science

Nonfiction Genre: Narrative – death is the main character and follows a sequential text structure

PowWow: A Celebration Through Song and Dance

Author: Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Release Date: April 21/20

Author Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane provides readers not only with factual information but also shares personal stories and photos of her family and herself. The book has four chapters with subheadings within each chapter. The first chapter focuses on the origins of Powwows. Readers receive some background knowledge on how Indigenous people were treated, particularly in Canada, with The Indian Act, the Pass System and Residential schools. The author outlines how the governments of both countries, now known as Canada and the United States, tried to eliminate and assimilate Indigenous people. Fortunately, trying to remove their culture and how the Powwow helped to preserve a portion of their culture. The second chapter focuses on Powwow culture and what to expect if attending a Powwow, the different types of Powwows, the order of events and what you would expect to see. Chapter three provides the specifics for the variety of dances along with the protocols with the drum. Lots of photos allow the reader to appreciate the intricate beading, design and meaning behind the apparel worn by the dancers. The last chapter focuses on where and when Powwows from one coast to the other.

This is a comprehensive look at Indigenous song and dance making it a valuable resource that should be in all libraries.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Traditional – mainly text, descriptive text structure and has photographs with minor captions

Ocean Speaks: Marie Tharp and the Map That Moved the Earth

Author: Jess Keating

Illustrator: Katie Hickey

Publisher: Tundra

Release Date: June 30/20

Marie Tharp had a love for science but was not able to pursue her passion due to the belief that women should not be scientists. Upon the start of World War II, because men were needed as soldiers, women were encouraged to pursue careers in science.

Her first job explored using sound to study the ocean floor. Marie, however, was not allowed on the ship – women were bad luck. Instead, she analyzed the data sent from the ship to create a map of the ocean floor. With the map completed, she discovered a deep rift in the middle with large mountains on either side. Her male counterparts disputed the map and even the famous explorer Jacques Cousteau attempted to prove her wrong. Shocked, the men realized Marie was correct and credited her with discovering the greatest mountain range and valley on earth.

Katie Hickey compliments Jess Keating’s words with a pallet of blues and greens with gold highlights that draw the reader in. Many will speak of the stunning gatefold and the use of the grid lines overtop the ocean floor, but the page where her father and little Marie are investigating and the reader gets a glimpse seeing the details of their many adventures and inquires is the page that will spark connections and conversations. The end matter includes an author’s note outlining other aftereffects of her map, a Q&A along with suggestions for further reading.

Another phenomenal biography to add to your collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Earth Science

Nonfiction Genre: I would now put this book in Informational Fiction as there would be scenes and dialog that would not be able to be proved as factual based on the webinar I recently watched with Ms. Stewart (Originally categorized as Narrative – the story of Marie Tharp in a short story structure)

Making a Whole Person: Traditional Inuit Education

Author: Monica Ittusardjuat

Illustrator: Yong Ling Kang 

Publisher: Inhabit Educational Books Inc.

Release Date: July 7/20

An own voices look at how Inuit people learned the various skills and knowledge prior to European contact. Although there is not a Table of Contents, author Monica Ittusardjuat breaks this book into three sections, games, authentic learning experiences and observing adults. Each section also introduces specific vocabulary unique to the Inuit people. Illustrations are colourful and add more meaning to the text – such as the string game illustration. The back matter includes a glossary, a pronunciation guide with black and white photos, additional information about the author and illustrator, and a historical note.

A topic that has few current resources, the descriptive format reads like a narrative story as it is based on personal experiences. Always on the lookout for resources for Indigenous people of the north, the simple format of play, imitate and watch will provide readers with another way of knowing and be a welcome addition to library collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Traditional– descriptive text structure with accompanying illustrations

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl

Author: Rina Singh

Illustrator:Marianne Ferrer 

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: October 6/20

As a young boy, Sundar Paliwal grew up in a mining village in India. He saw first hand the destruction mining did to the environment and the inequity between males and females. Sundar never forgot what he witnessed as a child and when he became the elected sarpanch or leader as an adult, he constructed a plan to honour both the land and the girls born in the village.

Based on a true story, readers learn about the tragic loss that Sundar suffered as a child and a father that led him to think about planting trees to honour the loved ones he lost. It was hard for Sundar to convince the villagers to change their ways. As he convinced the community to plant 111 trees when a girl was born and commit to sending them to school and waiting until they were 18 to be married, the landscape slowly changed and brought the community together and prosperity to their village. There is additional information regarding Sundar and eco-feminism.

Another highly recommended addition to classroom and library collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Environment

Nonfiction Genre: Narrative– true story of how Sundar fought for equal rights and the land in his community in a short story structure.

So hopefully some of these titles will be ones that you can enjoy and perhaps see they way nonfiction can have different genres. If you are familiar with any of these titles, I’d love to hear if you agree where I placed them in Ms. Stewart’s nonfiction genres.

Noteworthy and Nourishing

Back in 2018, I was fortunate enough to attend my first ever NeRDCaMP in Parma, Michigan and hear the magnificent Melissa Stewart. During her presentation, she spoke of different genres of nonfiction. I, along with everyone there, soaked it up. She shared her thoughts of Five Kinds of Nonfiction and updated her post as her thinking changed and grew. Later she answered questions and then provided examples titled Five Kinds of Nonfiction Booklists. This post also included research to share how young readers find nonfiction more engaging.

In fact, a recent study shows that more than 75 percent of students like expository books as much as or more than narrative titles, and42 percent have a moderate or strong preference for expository nonfiction (Repanskey, Schumm, & Johnson, 2017)


Repaskey, L. L., Schumm, J., & Johnson, J. (2017). First and Fourth Grade Boys’ and Girls’ Preferences For and Perceptions About Narrative and Expository Text. Reading Psychology, 38(8), 808-847. doi:10.1080/02702711.2017.1344165
Stewart, M. (2018, January 05). The Five Kinds of Nonfiction, Book Lists. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-nonfiction-family-tree-book-lists.html

I am now trying to see the world of nonfiction through this lens, to help colleagues and others who may be reading this blog. So a quick sentence or two to describe Ms. Stewart’s genres of nonfiction.

  • Traditional: what we typically think of with nonfiction – writing/prose that explains, describes and informs the reader – mainly text with illustrations or photos alongside. (Think: True Book series and author Seymour Simon books)
  • Browseable Nonfiction: writing that has short amounts of texts in a block- like layouts with illustrations. (Think: Guinness World Record Books)
  • Narrative Nonfiction: tells a true story or experience, has a setting and real characters, a central theme and usually follows short story structure (rising action, climax and resolution). (Think: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla)
  • Expository Literature: well researched, engaging design, art and layouts with rich language and a particular text structure (Think: Jess Keating’s World of Weird Animal series, Pink is for Blobfish, Cute as an Axolotl)
  • Active Nonfiction: the result of the maker movement writing that teaches skills and has readers engage in an activity or activities. (Think: Cookbooks and How to Books)

As a result of the interest and popularity, Ms. Stewart is currently writing a book titled Five Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books to be published by Stenhouse Publishing that I am looking forward to reading. 

I wanted to provide my thinking before sharing books, and this post is rather lengthy. Tomorrow will be the first post of Noteworthy and Nourishing complete with books, all published in 2020 and proudly Canadian. Stay tuned.