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Unit of Study:  Literary Nonfiction

Page history last edited by Lori Milan 13 years, 12 months ago

Unit of Study: Literary Nonfiction This page is to share the suggested list of literary nonfiction texts discussed in class and to provide a space for us to add to this list collaboratively.   *Please add your first and last name and the title and author of your text with your post. Please also add a picture if available and a hyperlink to the page where we could order the book online if we choose to.


Literary Nonfiction Text Set


Picture Books


Working Like a Dog: The Story of Working Dogs through History (Aspca Henry Bergh Children's Book Awards (Awards))Working Like a Dog by Gina K. Gorrell 

Recommended by Cathy Rode.  Gorrell does a marvelous job of researching the history of "household canids" from the wild into the civilized world. Other chapters delve into the many ways in which these animals have been viewed throughout history, what makes particular breeds right for certain jobs, dogs at war, famous pooches, etc. Youngsters learn that canines have been used for food, sport, sacrifice, protection, slave control, maritime work, bear deterrence, and, of course, companionship. The author introduces many real-life workers, such as Opal, a yellow Lab in training to guide the blind; Dart, a German shepherd that sniffs out illegal catches of seafood; and Servus, a Belgian Malinois that nearly died at the ruins of the World Trade Center. The well-captioned, black-and-white photographs and reproductions add greatly to a narrative that's packed with intriguing details.  This would be a great resource for students grades 5th through 9th grade. 




                      The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericol 

Recommended by Crystal Weathers. I have not used this book in class yet but I am very soon. This is a story about how a man and his wife rescue a finch and when no zoo wants him raises the bird in the middle of Manhattan. I like the use of the repeating line through the story, "And now? What's going to happen now?" The story has a rythmic flow to it with not necessarily rhyming words. 



Product DetailsThe Cloud Book    by Tomie de Paola 


Recommended by Cammie Price.  This is a great book to use for a weather unit. It teaches students the 3 main kinds of clouds and what they look like. It also includes sayings about clouds that help tell about the weather (ex. for farmers:  When the fog goes up the mountain hoppin', Then the rain comes down the mountain droppin'.  My students love the weather unit and this book is fun and informative to share.


Product Detailsa good day's fishingby James Prosek

Recommended by Renee Phillips. This book works well with young children and especially boys. The text in the book is very simple but the illustration and detailed glossary made the book much more soficticated than it appears at first. It also is good to show a repeating line and punctuation.


Product Details





Recommended by Renee Phillips

I have used this book with 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade and it is wonderful as a touchstone text as well as a mentor text for students. In the 3rd grade classroom that I am working with students used it to help them craft their own literary non-fiction. One little girl wrote a great book called Montana. She used the lead struture of "I am Monanta a state..." as well as personification to help the reader visualize Monatana. 




Product DetailsAn Egg is Quiet, Product DetailsA Seed is Sleepy by D.H. Aston

Recommended by Dawn Mitchell.  I've used both of these books with students in both primary, intermediate, and middle grades in introducing students to literary nonfiction.  The texts are full with rich craft such as alliteration, repeating line/text patterns, imagery, and great word choice.  The illustrations are beautiful and as with all literary nonfiction, the accurate information is enjoyable to learn and engaging for the reader.


Product DetailsAnimal Dads, Do They Scare You?, by S.B. Collard


Product DetailsWhoever You Areby Mem Fox

This book explains to children that although they may not look the same, speak the same language, and live different lives, they are just the same on the inside. This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year when you have children of several different backgrounds.  Mem Fox begins the story with how children are different and then at the end of the story it's how children are all the same on the inside.  The children love the illustrations in this book and each picture has a mosaic frame around it.


Product DetailsBat Loves the Night by N. Davies


Product DetailsDream Weaver by J. London


Who Hoots?Who Hoots? by Katie Davis

Recommended by Sarah Stephanoff. I have used this book with both 2nd and 3rd grade. It follows a repetitive pattern of asking Who hoots?, telling three animals that don't hoot, then says Owls don't hoot, and on the next page it says, "Yes they do." and tells more facts about owls. Other questions include who buzzes, squeaks and roars. You may think this book is too young for your class but I promise you they will love it and will be chiming in with "Yes they do!" by the end. It also provides a good model of a different kind of non-fiction book. I have had kids think to ask more sophisticated questions like "Who is an omnivore?" (There is also another version called Who Hops? which does the opposite thing..."No they don't.")


Product Details D is for Democracyby Elissa Grodin

Recommended by Kimberly Barnette.  I love this book.  I incorporate this book in my government unit for middle school students.  It would be great for upper elementary level as well. The author does a great job of summarizing every part of the government, and it has great colorful pictures that draw you in.  The author goes deeper with each letter she intorduces by inserting a detailed explanation on each page.  I am now going to use this book as a model to show how we can write our own ABC books for different units as well.



Product DetailsGeorge Washington's Teeth by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora

Recommended by Bonnie Cumbo.  We have all heard stories of George Washington having bad teeth.  This story tells all of the hardships he went through with his teeth.  At the age of 22 he has already lost two permanent teeth.  Two years later he loses another permanent tooth and looses one tooth every year after that.  Even though he is known as the father or our country and was our first president, he was terribly sad about his teeth.  He suffered a lot of pain, wore many sets of false teeth, and died from a condition linked to a chronic infection in his gums. 

This text allows our students to see the personal issues that George Washington faced.  It also takes them through a time line of how he lost his teeth and the trials he went through.  This could lead to student's creating their own time-line of how they have grown and  lost their own teeth. 


Product DetailsThe Story of Ruby BridgesBy Robert Coles


Recommended by:  Bonnie Cumbo

This text is an example of literary non-fiction/biography.  This is the story of the first black child to attend an all white elementary school.  Ruby has a great attitude about the whole situation and proves to be a great leader for the black community. 



Product DetailsSky Tree by Thomas Locker

Recommended by Kim Sutherland.  This literary nonfiction is great for teaching mood and imagery.  This book could be used with upper elementary and middle school.  The book is about a tree experiencing all the seasons of the year, and the author proposes a question about the tree for the reader to reflect upon their own personal mood/feelings the setting of the tree gives the reader.  Great use of personification and strong verbs.  The illustrations are very colorful and sharply detailed. Every picture of the tree could definitely be a whole new story line to write about. 


True Stories of Heroes by Paul Dowswell

Suggested by Kim Wells. True Stories of Heroes is a collection of 10+ accounts of obscure everyday people whose brave actions had significant effects on millions of people. One story, for example, tells of an French-born, English housewife who accepted an assignmentduring WWII in Nazi-occupied France out of love for her native country. Other stories about the Cherynobl Disaster, Evil Knievel, and Chuck Yeager are included as well. Text is challenging due to vocabulary, but would provide high interest read aloud, or independent reading for more advanced students.


The Stupid Crook BookStupid Crook Book by Leland Gregory

Recommended by Cathy Rode.  This literary nonfiction is great for teaching for expository-description genres.  Students love to read the real stories of the criminals getting caught doing insane things.  I have a majority of boys in my classroom, and they always want to read books like this.  This book is filled with humor and details of the crimes are vivid and each section is short so students could read small amounts at a time. 



Product DetailsCloud Dance,

Recommended by Crystal Weathers. I use this book in my science curriculum as well. This is a great way to use informative text, cloud types, and personification. (Fluffy summer clouds march in the blue sky.




   Product DetailsWater Dance, by: Thomas Locker

Recommended by: April Camp 

What a beautiful book. WOW! Through the small riddles you take a journey of water. You travel through the rain, the stream, the waterfall and all the way to storm it self. You get to see what it is like to be water and how it travels through the Earth. The pictures are very real and the words are moving. It made me want to teach a lesson on riddles right away. I plan to fit this is as soon as possible.  


 Jake and the Migration of the Monarch by Crystal Ball O'Connor: Book CoverJake and the Migration of the Monarch   by Crystal Ball O'Connor

Recommended by Cammie Price

This book is a story about a small boy discovering monarch butterflies. It gives his mother "butterflies" to watch this story unfold. Crystal Ball O'Connor uses sensory imagery throughtout this story. You feel as if you are sitting on the Carolina coast watching the colorful butterflies while reading this.  When we study the stages of a butterfly, I use this book to teach first graders about migration.  The mom explains to Jake that the butterflies leave Canada and the United States  in the winter to fly to Mexico with the warm, cozy climate. On one page, the illustrator uses Jake's story and on the following page he uses information to inform about monarch butterflies. There is also a song Jake sings that my students like to sing along with.  The song and the pictures really kept my students engaged and they were able to learn more about the butterfly stages and migration.



Product DetailsSalamander Rain by K.J. Pratt-Serafini


Product DetailsThe Journey:  Stories of Migrationby Cynthia Rylant


Product DetailsButterflies Flyby Y. Winer



Product DetailsFantastic Frogs! by Fay Robinson

Recommended by Bonnie Cumbo

This text fits well with the study of frogs and their life cycle.  With rhyming words at the end of each phase or sentence, this book takes on the sound of a poem. Many different types of frogs are introduced with a brief explanation of how they are unique.  In the middle of the book, the author takes us through the life cycle process of the frog.  The illustrations are beautiful and the words bring us full circle, beginning and ending with onomatopoeia.  There are many literacy strategies and "crafts"  to explore for any elementary student.



My Name Is Gabito/Mi Llamo Gabito: The Life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez/La Vida De Gabriel Garcia Marquez  My Name is Gabito / Me Llamo Gabito: The Life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez / La Vida de Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Monica Brown

Recommended by: Heather Yordy

I found this amazing story by accident, for it has been a LONG time that I've been in the Children's section of the bookstore.  The illustrations are amazing.  It is a bilingual book, that I would recommend for middle level students.  The story begins and ends with repeating the phrase - "Can you imagine..." with different scenarios that are wildly imaginative.  The story walks through the process of how a little boy named Gabito not only imagined these different things, but brought them to life.  I could see it being used in a nonfiction study to get the students thinking about what their lives could look like. 


Surprising Sharks (Nature Storybooks) Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies

Recommended by: Amber Pitts. This book is a great book for young and old students! It uses alliteration and it also uses a lot of similes to describe the different characteristics of sharks (ex. "...it blows up like a party balloon."). Davies also uses different styles of print and bold words. In this book there are a lot of diagrams of sharks that are labeled, a great tool for non fiction writers!


Product DetailsThe Emperor's Egg 

recommended by Amber McDonald: The Emperor's Egg is a precious book that tells the life of a baby penguin from egg to chick. This book is great in informing the kids. There is a story line at the top of the page while at the bottom in italics there are facts about Emperor Penguins. It is chaulked full of  information about penguins while engaging the reader with a story line.


Literary Nonfiction Poetry



Birmingham 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford

Recommended by Carla Taylor. If you want to add to your text set on Civil Rights, this is the book to use. The book has won numerous awards. And while the poem’s narrator is fictional, the events are real. The text is informative, but it’s the beautiful language in free verse that truly tells the story. The photographs are as powerful as the text. Pictures on the left page with the text show a sign of innocence and simplicity whereas the archival photographs on the right show injustice and horror. The author includes a memorial to the four girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Plus, the Author’s Note includes vital information to understanding the tragic event. Students could use this book as a model to create their own book for a topic they have researched. The writing is worthy of a close-study and noticings chart. Plus, students can examine the elements of nonfiction text and include in their work (ie. Author’s Note; Notes on Photographs; Works Cited; etc.) 

Children of the Dust Bowl; The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp by Jerry Stanley

Recommended by Kim Wells. Vintage photos by famed Depression Era and WPA photographer, Dorothea Lange, fill this unique text. The story documents the migration of the Okies to California in search of jobs, shelter, and food. California was their'Promised Land'. They soon encounter ridicule, prejudice, starvation, and unemployment. One educator embraces the rejected children and teaches them valuable life lessons as they build a model school for themselves in Southern California. The story follows the hardships of a courageous people and how struggle and conflict build their character into what many call America's Greatest Generation.

      Product Details       Kids At Work: Lews Hine And The Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freddman  Recommended by Kimberly Barnette  This literary nonfiction book is grea tif you need to add to your text set on child labor.  This book is well known for showing detailed pictures along with descriptive chapters about the many jobs children had during the Industrial Revolution. The pictures make this book. It comes alive for the students.  You can analyze pictures or read the text either way, the students are seeing how it was for kids during that time.

Product DetailsHummingbird's Nest by K.O. George



Product DetailsFine Feathered Friends, Product DetailsSacred Places, Product DetailsSea Watch,


Product DetailsThe Originalsby Jane Yolen


Product DetailsThe Wall by Eve Bunting

Recommended by Kelly Compton. I read this book to my first graders originally for a lesson on questioning skills for comprehension.  I chose this book because it was recommended by Debbie Miller, "Reading with Meaning".  This book is about a father and a son who go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC to find his grandfather's name.  Both the father and so are sadden my the events that took place.  I knew this would be a good book to have my students dive deeper into because, as I thought, they knew nothing the me Memeorial.  They loved this book and most have taken it home to read with their parents. They were also excited to see it in one of our leveled reader baskets.  Eve Bunting does a great job of comparing objects to the way we feel in real life.  There is also a note in the make of the book giving more details to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


Product DetailsThe History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

Recommended by Kimberly Trott. Thucydides writes his eyewitness account of the events that transpired during the Peloponnesian Wars.  It is one of the first examples of historical writings.  He is known for his balanced view point, even though he was an Athenian general. 



  Product DetailsThe Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar

Recommended by Kimberly Trott. Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman military and political leader. He played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His conquest of Gaul extended the Roman world.  This book is the record of his campaigns. It offers insights into his military strategies and paints a fascinating picture of his encounters with the inhabitant of Gaul and Britain.



Product DetailsThe Histories by Herodotus

Recommended by Kimberly Trott.  Written by Herodotus, the father of history, this book covers the Persian Wars along with a large amount of material on other topics like the Egyptians and Persians.  A great read to get a feel for the time period.



Product Details Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock

Recommended by Joan Green.  First of all, just the name of the book immediately gets the attention of students.  This book explores the different ways that animals use bubbles.  I learned quite a lot and my second grade students were mesmerized by all of the incredible information.  A big hit!



Product Details  Wolfsnail by Sarah C. Campbell 

Recommended by Joan Green.  This is an absolutely beautiful book!  The photographs of the wolfsnail are so simple and focused that they are enough to captivate students.  The text is large and easy to read, but don't let that be misleading.  The narrative is filled with imagery that takes us into the life of the wolfsnail.  One of my favorite nonfiction texts!


Product DetailsPalmetto Symbol of Courageby Kate Salley Palmer

Recommended by Lindsay Blanton  This is a wonderful book!  I love the 3rd Social Studies content that is connected to the state of SC.  It is so interesting to me and I love for students to learn about the state and history in which they live.  I love Kate Salley Palmer too!  She writes and illustrates her books.  The pictures and text are kid-friendly and it is so pretty to look at and read, you don't realize all the facts you are reading about the Charleston Harbour! 



Product DetailsSwamp Foxby Kate Salley Palmer

Recommended by Lindsay Blanton A Kate Salley Palmer book that I love and love to use in 3rd grade with the social studies content.  Swamp Fox is a great story in history I love to see all the travels of Swamp Fox and teach the geography of SC along with it. 


Literary Nonfiction Magazines

 National Geographic Kids

Recommended by Amber McDonald    I have to be honest I had to look at what exactly Literary nonfiction was. I was so pleased to find out that magazines fell under this catergory. I happen to love National Geographic magazine itself and when I discovered NG Kids I was so excited. This magazine itself allows students to engage in reading and learning on the same level. It is jam packed with information for kids of any age to read. I also love how it gets the kids thinking about a topic and what they could do to find out more! Each issue takes the reader down a different road of learning!



Recommended by Amber McDonald    I have found yet another great example of literary nonfiction. Zoobooks is an amazing example of a plethera of information that correlates Science/SS/Lang Arts all in one. The kids can read all about  a certain animal in each issue and then be able to translate that information to paper. I love how it gives the kids information about the topic with maps, diagrams, and huge examples of great paragraph essays. It is also great to show the kids if they wanted to design their own magazine. I am very encouraged to get my kids to make their own magazine genre!


Ranger Rick magazine cover February 2009 Ranger Rick

Recommended by Sarah Stephanoff. Like Amber I also had to look at what literary nonfiction was. I didn't know feature articles could fall under that bigger category! My class did a study on feature articles in the fall and they loved examining Ranger Rick articles. Ranger Rick is accessible for 3rd grade students and up and is more sophisticated than My Big Backyard. All students can imitate the layout and content of this type of article while some students will even be able to copy its humor.


Recommended by Martha Vest.  So glad to see Ranger Rick as a resource for literary nonfiction.  My own sons and I devoured Ranger Rick for years at home and learned so much about a variety of topics.  The photos are engaging and the text is so child-friendly.  Ranger Rick is appropriate for 1st graders and up,as children learn to love reading about animals and their world.  Great magazine!


Time for Kids Magazine

Recommended by Crystal Weathers. I love to use this magazines because students can read about current events on their reading level. It is a wonderful way for students to connect with the world around them and think about issues that effect not only them but our world as well.



People en Español Vol. 1 Student Magazine (People en Espanol) 

People en Español Vol. 1 Student Magazine (People en Espanol) [Student Edition] (Paperback) ~ Glencoe McGraw-Hill (Author)

Recommended by Heather Yordy.  I think this is under literary nonfiction.  I have used People en Espanol in every level of Spanish and have several colleagues that use it in the middle school.  Particularly the articles on the lives of stars or critical issues to the Hispanic culture are useful in class.  The student edition is great for the articles are geared for using in class to develop reading comprehension and languag skills, though it is more expensive...  I know this link isn't very helpful to non-Spanish teachers... but you never know...



Recommended by Lori Milan

I taught 4th grade for 4 years before being moved to 6th grade this year. Cobblestone Magazine was one of the best resources I had for US  history. The magazine is 30 years old, and the articles they produce each week are fabulous. My history buffs loved them because they taught them more than I did by going deeper into other interesting topics. My resource kids loved them too, because they could use the pictures to enhance their learning. The publisher has many different magazines that meet numerous SC State Standards.





Recommendation #2  by Kim Wells 

Cobblestoneis a great permanent classroom resource for ELA. Whatever your current unit of study, there is a topic in an issue of Cobblestone to match. For example, when I teach poetry I like to use Langston Hughes, and we talk about the Harlem Renaissance. OLD OLD issues of Cobblestone has an entire issue devoted to the Renaissance and a game that is a precursor to a webquest of sorts. These issues are perfect for cross-curriculum. Science, music, art, math, and of course, history link reading and writing as a reflection of the period. PERFECT! If you need a real world connection... well, there you are!



Recommended by Cathy Rode Studies Weekly Newspaper

I taught 3rd through 6th grade gifted social studies for 10 years and used the Studies Weekly Newspaper for each grade level. The newspaper integrates standards across curriculm and has a teacher's guide that includes standards met, suggested activities, a book list, and a ready made assessement.  I now use the World History Weekly as a supplement to my 6th grade social studies curriculum.  The newspaper articles include an overview of the time period being studied, important vocabulary, a "Let's Write" section, and includes current events that mirror what this week's topic is about.  Students' enjoy this newspaper type reading more than the text book because the author writes the articles in age-appropriate language.  It is also easier to carry in their bookbags!


Social Studies Weekly #2

Recommended by Lori Milan 

The paper I actually use is World History Studies Weekly. The paper goes right along with the SC State Standards. I use the paper to introduce units of study in SS. The students are not intimidated by the broad topics that we are talking about. The paper is useful too because the layout is like a daily newspaper. Students are introdced to that layout in hopes that a 5 part newspaper will be easier to jump into. 





Literary Nonfiction Content-Specific Unit on Electricity

Completed By: April Camp



Product Details By: Joanna Cole


Product Details By: Suzanne Collins


Product DetailsBy: Brad Herzog

This book is what inspired my students to create an ABC literary non-fiction writing based on our unit of electricity. They enjoyed the way each page was written based on a letter and then gave same background information or fun facts about baseball. They thought of it has an easy read and also a great way to do research on baseball.


Non-topic books that sparked interest in writing literary non-fiction pieces


 Product DetailsBy: Thomas Locker



Product DetailsBy: Thomas Locker


Product DetailsBY: Thomas Locker


Product DetailsBy: Jonathan London

 Simple yet poetic wording with bright and colorful pictures.


Product Details By: Marilyn Singer


Product Details By: Dianna Aston

Full of facts and detailed pictures.


Product DetailsBy: Cynthia Rylant


Product Details By: Katya Arnold


Product DetailsBy: G. Brian Karas



Lori Milan

Literary Non-fcition content: Middle Ages


 You Wouldn't Want To Be A Crusader!: A War You'd Rather Not Fight (You Wouldn't Want to...)by Fiona MacDonald

The You wouldn't want to be books were great for my study. There are all types of these. I focused on placing the ones in my basket that covered 6th grade standards. They have the literary parts, yet are extremely detailed. I also like that they pull out the obnoxious and gross details of the time....my kids LOVE that!


Ancient Egypt (DK Eyewitness Books)DK Children


Scholastic News


You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pyramid Builder: A Hazardous Job You'd Rather Not Have (You Wouldn't Want to...)By David Salaryia


Product DetailsBy: Jacqueline Morley


You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Soldier!: Barbarians You'd Rather Not Meet (You Wouldn't Want to...)by David Stewartand David Antram


Product Detailsby Fiona MacDonald, David Salariya, and David Antram


You Wouldn't Want to Be a Medieval Knight: Armor You'd Rather Not Wear (You Wouldn't Want to...)by Fiona MacDonald, David Salariya, and David Antram


 Product Details by Chris Chelepi


Product Detailsby Julie Ellisand Phyllis Hornung


Product Detailsby Elizabeth Baquedano


 National Geographic Kids

These magazines are great for all kids. They are fun and entertaining along with educational. When I am looking for resources that my lower students can read and understand, these are perfect. My sixth grade students can read them, but they and the other students don't know  that they are reading it because it is just right. As a matter of a fact, my higher kids love to read them too!


DK Revealed: Ancient Egypt (DK Revealed)By Peter Chrisp


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