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Tag Archives | Melissa Stewart

What is Research, Really?

From an ELA point of view, “research” is some­thing you do to gath­er infor­ma­tion for a report or project. But if you’re a sci­en­tist, research has a whole dif­fer­ent mean­ing. It’s a way of devel­op­ing a new under­stand­ing of the world and how it works.

Every once in a while, my hus­band and I have a con­ver­sa­tion about why two seem­ing­ly dif­fer­ent pur­suits have the same name. So recent­ly, I decid­ed to do a lit­tle, er, research to track down the ori­gin of the word and, if pos­si­ble, find a con­nec­tion.

research

It turns out that our mod­ern word “research” traces back to the Old French term recercher, which means “seek out, search close­ly.” This could apply to both types of research, so I start­ed look­ing at all kinds of con­tem­po­rary def­i­n­i­tions. Even­tu­al­ly, I came across this one, which I like a lot:

cre­ative and sys­temic work under­tak­en to increase knowl­edge”

Here’s a way of think­ing about research that encom­pass­es both kinds of research. From the ELA point of view, an indi­vid­ual increas­es his or her per­son­al knowl­edge about a par­tic­u­lar top­ic. From a sci­en­tif­ic point of view, we are increas­ing our over­all body of knowl­edge about life, space, Earth, and the phys­i­cal laws that explain how every­thing works.

Anoth­er rea­son I like this def­i­n­i­tion so much is that it includes the word “cre­ative.” In fact, it puts that word right up front.

Why is that so impor­tant to me? Because that’s what makes research excit­ing. To me, gath­er­ing research for a book is like a trea­sure hunt—a quest for tan­ta­liz­ing tid­bits of knowl­edge. It’s an active, self-dri­ven process that requires a whole lot of cre­ative think­ing.

drone research

Ide­al­ly, I want my every one of my books to fea­ture fas­ci­nat­ing infor­ma­tion that no one else has ever includ­ed in a book on the top­ic. To find that infor­ma­tion, I think cre­ative­ly about sources.

  • Who can I ask?
  • Where can I go?
  • How can I search in a new or unex­pect­ed way?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, kids often don’t bring that same kind of cre­ative spir­it to their research, and that’s why they often find it bor­ing.

research with the five senses

Ide­al­ly, research should employ as many of the five sense as pos­si­ble.

  • We can use our eyes to watch doc­u­men­tary films, observe ani­mals first­hand in the wild or on web­cams, and search archival pho­tographs for clues about the past.
  • We can use our ears to lis­ten to pod­casts, radio inter­views, or experts we inter­view our­selves.
  • We can use our hands to feel arti­facts and get a sense of what it would have been like to hold them and use them long ago.
  • It may be a bit hard­er to use our mouths and noses to expe­ri­ence smells and tastes relat­ed to a top­ic, but it’s cer­tain­ly a goal to keep in mind.

Can you think of some more cre­ative ways of con­duct­ing research?

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The Writing Process as a Living Story

In some ways, it’s too bad that the cur­ricu­lum in most schools calls for writ­ing per­son­al nar­ra­tives at the begin­ning of the school year because I think stu­dents could learn a lot by craft­ing a per­son­al nar­ra­tive about the process of research­ing, writ­ing, and revis­ing an infor­ma­tion­al writ­ing assign­ment.

What do I mean by that? Well, late­ly, I’ve been think­ing about my non­fic­tion book-mak­ing process as a liv­ing sto­ry. Even though I write (most­ly) expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion, there is a sto­ry, a per­son­al nar­ra­tive, behind every book I cre­ate.

I doc­u­ment­ed the sto­ry of craft­ing Dead­liest Ani­mals in a series of blog posts, which I bun­dled togeth­er on this Pin­ter­est board.

Writing Nonfiction Step by Step Pinterest board

I told the sto­ry behind No Mon­keys, No Choco­late in this inter­ac­tive time­line.

No Monkeys No Chocolate timeline

Based on ques­tions and feed­back from stu­dents and teach­ers, I cre­at­ed a mod­i­fied inter­ac­tive time­line with info­graph­ic ele­ments to describe the expe­ri­ence of writ­ing Can an Aard­vark Bark?

Can an Aardvark Bark? timeline

I cre­at­ed these mate­ri­als as edu­ca­tion­al resources for teach­ers and stu­dents, so they could see and hear and under­stand a pro­fes­sion­al writer’s process. My goal was to pull back the cur­tain, so that stu­dents could see that my expe­ri­ence is very sim­i­lar to their own.

But, sur­pris­ing­ly, I prof­it­ed from the process myself. By think­ing through and reliv­ing the expe­ri­ence, I noticed things that I con­sis­tent­ly do wrong, allow­ing me to brain­storm ways to work smarter. I was able to ask oth­er writ­ers tar­get­ed ques­tions about their process, and exper­i­ment with the tech­niques and strate­gies they sug­gest­ed.

I think young writ­ers could also ben­e­fit from telling their sto­ries of cre­ation. Imag­ine stu­dents using tools like Flip­grid or Padlet or audio record­ings or sto­ry­board­ing to doc­u­ment their non­fic­tion writ­ing expe­ri­ences. They could address some of the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

  • What was my process?
  • What chal­lenges did I face?
  • How did I over­come them?
  • Who or what helped me?
  • What might I try dif­fer­ent­ly the next time?

This activ­i­ty will help to solid­i­fy the steps of the non­fic­tion writ­ing process in their minds, which as I dis­cuss in this post, can real­ly help some stu­dents. It would also offer a fun, authen­tic form of self-assess­ment and a start­ing point for dia­logue with oth­ers.

Why not give it a try?

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Perfect Pairs

Bookol­o­gy is delight­ed to fea­ture a sam­ple les­son from Per­fect Pairs: Using Fic­tion & Non­fic­tion Pic­ture Books to Teach Life Sci­ence, K-2 by children’s book author Melis­sa Stew­art and mas­ter edu­ca­tor Nan­cy Ches­ley (Sten­house Pub­lish­ers). When this book (and its com­pan­ion for grades 3–5) first came across our desk, we were blown away by its per­cep­tion and use­ful­ness. For edu­ca­tors who are not as con­fi­dent teach­ing sci­ence as they are lan­guage arts and writ­ing, here’s an excel­lent resource to help you stand more assured­ly in front of your stu­dents, know­ing they’ll be moti­vat­ed to explore sci­ence.

Perfect Pairs

We’re grate­ful to Melis­sa, Nan­cy, and Sten­house Pub­lish­ers for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to give you a clear view inside the Per­fect Pairs resources. This grade 2 les­son, How Wind Water, and Ani­mals Dis­perse Seeds,” (click for the les­son plan) fea­tures two tru­ly won­der­ful books, Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheel­er and Plant­i­ng the Wild Gar­den by Kathryn O. Gail­braith and Wendy Ander­son Halperin. [This les­son plan is from Per­fect Pairs:Using Fic­tion and Non­fic­tion Pic­ture Books to Teach Life Sci­ence, K-2 by Melis­sa Stew­art and Nan­cy Ches­ley copy­right © 2014, repro­duced with per­mis­sion of Sten­house Pub­lish­ers. stenhouse.com]

Planting the Wild Garden and Miss Maple's Seeds

Melis­sa Stew­art has also been lead­ing the way for every­one who works with young minds to incor­po­rate the five kinds of non­fic­tion into their school and class­room libraries as well as their ELA and con­tent area instruc­tion, so we’ve decid­ed to ask her a few ques­tions.

Melis­sa, when you and edu­ca­tor Nan­cy Ches­ley decid­ed to cre­ate Per­fect Pairs, what did you feel was the most press­ing need for these fic­tion-non­fic­tion, life sci­ence matchups, and accom­pa­ny­ing les­son plans?

In recent years, many ele­men­tary teach­ers have been asked to devote more time to lan­guage arts and math in an effort to improve stu­dent scores on assess­ment tests. As a result, many K-5 stu­dents receive lim­it­ed sci­ence instruc­tion, and many mid­dle school stu­dents are sore­ly lack­ing in basic sci­ence knowl­edge and skills.

In addi­tion, many ele­men­tary teach­ers do not have a strong sci­ence back­ground. Some even report being intim­i­dat­ed by their school’s sci­ence cur­ricu­lum and feel ill equipped to teach basic sci­ence con­cepts. Build­ing sci­ence lessons around children’s books enables many ele­men­tary edu­ca­tors to approach sci­ence instruc­tion with greater con­fi­dence. And because our lessons incor­po­rate sig­nif­i­cant read­ing and writ­ing, they allow teach­ers to teach sci­ence with­out com­pro­mis­ing lan­guage arts instruc­tion time.

Because some chil­dren love fic­tion while oth­ers pre­fer non­fic­tion, pair­ing books is an effec­tive way to intro­duce sci­ence con­cepts. And when a book pair is pre­sent­ed in con­junc­tion with inno­v­a­tive, minds-on activ­i­ties that appeal to a wide vari­ety of learn­ing styles, stu­dents are even more like­ly to remem­ber the experience—and the con­tent. That’s what Per­fect Pairs is all about.

In the Intro­duc­tion to Per­fect Pairs, you state that the lessons in the book address the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards (NGSS) and sup­port the Com­mon Core State Stan­dards for Eng­lish Lan­guage Arts. Why is this ben­e­fi­cial for edu­ca­tors?

Com­mon Core and NGSS form the foun­da­tion for all cur­rent state ELA and sci­ence standards—even in states that nev­er offi­cial­ly adopt­ed them, so when teach­ers use the lessons in Per­fect Pairs, they can be con­fi­dent that they are teach­ing stu­dents the crit­i­cal con­cepts and skills they need to know.

To help teach­ers track how each les­son relates to the stan­dards, tables in the Appen­dix of Per­fect Pairs spec­i­fy which NGSS Per­for­mance Expec­ta­tion and Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing Prac­tices each les­son address­es. A sec­ond set of tables indi­cates which Com­mon Core stan­dards for Read­ing Lit­er­a­ture, Read­ing Infor­ma­tion­al Text, Writ­ing, and Speak­ing and Lis­ten­ing each les­son sup­ports.

In Per­fect Pairs, you also write that “In recent years, a new kind of children’s non­fic­tion has emerged. These inno­v­a­tive titles are remark­ably cre­ative and com­pelling. Their pur­pose is to delight as well as inform.”

On your high­ly-regard­ed blog, Cel­e­brate Sci­ence, you often share lists of these fine­ly-craft­ed non­fic­tion books. You also write about the craft of non­fic­tion writ­ing and include inno­v­a­tive activ­i­ties and strate­gies for teach­ing infor­ma­tion­al read­ing and writ­ing. What keeps you com­mit­ted to your mis­sion to bring more non­fic­tion to young read­ers?

The kids.

Many edu­ca­tors have a nat­ur­al affin­i­ty for sto­ries and sto­ry­telling, so they con­nect strong­ly with fic­tion. When they choose non­fic­tion, they grav­i­tate toward nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion because it tells true sto­ries.

5 Kinds of Nonfiction

Click on this image for down­load­able resources from Melis­sa Stewart’s web­site.

And yet, stud­ies show that as many as 75 per­cent of ele­men­tary stu­dents enjoy read­ing non­fic­tion with an expos­i­to­ry writ­ing style as much as (33 per­cent) or more than (42 per­cent) nar­ra­tives. If we want all stu­dents to devel­op a love of read­ing, we need to give them access to a diverse array of fic­tion, nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion, and expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion.

As stu­dents mature as read­ers, we can help them devel­op an appre­ci­a­tion for oth­er kinds of writ­ing. But first, we must show kids that we hon­or all books and val­ue all read­ing.

To help edu­ca­tors accom­plish this goal, I worked with Mar­lene Cor­reia, past pres­i­dent of the Mass­a­chu­setts Read­ing Asso­ci­a­tion and Direc­tor of Cur­ricu­lum and Assess­ment for the Free­town-Lakeville Region­al School Dis­trict in Lakeville, MA, to devel­op an info­graph­ic that high­lights five easy ways edu­ca­tors can share more expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion with their stu­dents.

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Elements of a Nonfiction Booktalk

Not long ago, I saw this list of rec­om­mend­ed com­po­nents for a book­talk:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Main char­ac­ter
  • Plot bit

And boy, did it frost my britch­es.

Why? Because the per­son who wrote it assumed the book­talk­er was rec­om­mend­ing a fic­tion title. What about non­fic­tion? It’s impor­tant to book­talk these titles too because many kids pre­fer non­fic­tion.

So here’s my list of sug­gest­ed com­po­nents for a non­fic­tion book­talk:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Audi­ence
  • Cat­e­go­ry
  • Text struc­ture
  • Writ­ing style
  • Voice choice
  • Con­tent bit

Great Monkey RescueAnd here are a cou­ple of exam­ples:

The Great Mon­key Res­cue: Sav­ing the Gold­en Lion Tamarins by San­dra Markle is a spe­cial­ized non­fic­tion title per­fect­ly suit­ed for stu­dents in grades 4–7. Sand­wiched between a nar­ra­tive begin­ning and end­ing, engag­ing expos­i­to­ry text with a prob­lem-solu­tion struc­ture describes how sci­en­tists and Brazil­ian cit­i­zens worked togeth­er to save endan­gered mon­keys from extinc­tion. Vibrant pho­tos, a dynam­ic design, and rich back mat­ter fur­ther enhance the book.

Creature FeaturesCrea­ture Fea­tures: 25 Ani­mals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenk­ins and Robin Page is an engag­ing con­cept pic­ture book writ­ten for stu­dents in grades K-3, but old­er stu­dents will enjoy it too. Appeal­ing ani­mal por­traits, first-per­son nar­ra­tion with occa­sion­al bits of humor, a fun ques­tion-and-answer text struc­ture, and inter­view-style for­mat make this book unique. Young read­ers won’t be able to resist the cor­nu­copia of facts about how an animal’s facial fea­tures help it sur­vive.

Why not invite your stu­dents to cre­ate a book­talk for their favorite non­fic­tion title?

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Curiouser and Curiouser with Melissa Stewart

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and StinkersThis month we’re fea­tur­ing Melis­sa Stew­art, author of sci­ence books for young read­ers and a seem­ing­ly tire­less advo­cate for read­ing non­fic­tion books, par­tic­u­lar­ly expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion (“5 Kinds of Non­fic­tion”). Melis­sa has writ­ten more than 180 books in her career, the first of which was pub­lished in 1998 and the most recent of which is Pipsqueaks, Slow­pokes, and Stinkers: Cel­e­brat­ing Ani­mal Under­dogs (illus­trat­ed by Stephanie Laberis, pub­lished by Peachtree Pub­lish­ers). We recent­ly put our heads togeth­er for an inter­view address­ing our curios­i­ty about Melissa’s books and her work. Pull up a chair to the table and join us!

Do you work on more than one book at a time?

Yes, I usu­al­ly work on at least a half dozen books at a time. I might be writ­ing the rough draft of one and revis­ing one or two oth­ers. I might be research­ing one, and wait­ing for research mate­ri­als for anoth­er. I could be review­ing illus­tra­tor sketch­es or check­ing lay­outs or review­ing notes from an edi­tor or copy edi­tor. There’s a lot of jug­gling. Each day, before I stop work­ing, I make a list of what I plan to work on the next day. This helps to keep me orga­nized.

Melissa Stewart

Melis­sa Stew­art

You work on many dif­fer­ent types of books with­in the pletho­ra of knowl­edge about our nat­ur­al world. How do you clear your head to work on a joke book after you’ve writ­ten about the droughts in our world?

Some­times it’s a strug­gle, espe­cial­ly when I need to shift gears between writ­ing with a live­ly, humor­ous voice and a more lyri­cal voice. If my voice is off, I stop writ­ing and start read­ing to get in the right mind­set. It’s sort of like cleans­ing my palate with sor­bet or pick­led gin­ger between dif­fer­ent cours­es of a meal.

You write for a vari­ety of pub­lish­ers includ­ing Peachtree Pub­lish­ers, Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Kids, Beach Lane Books, and Harper­Collins. Do you pitch your ideas to these com­pa­nies or do they come to you with ideas for the books they’d like?

A lit­tle bit of both. When pub­lish­ers have a large mass mar­ket series, such as Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Read­ers or HarperCollins’s Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science®, they usu­al­ly decide what top­ics they would like to add and then search for a writer. But for pic­ture books and oth­er trade books, I devel­op the idea. For pic­ture books, I need to sub­mit the com­plete man­u­script, and then the pub­lish­er may accept it or they may reject it. For longer books, I sub­mit a pro­pos­al with an out­line and writ­ing sam­ple.

author Melissa Stewart reading When Rain Falls with a kindergarten class

Author Melis­sa Stew­art read­ing When Rain Falls with a kinder­garten class

When you’re writ­ing a book that a pub­lish­er hired you to write, do you have para­me­ters with­in which you need to stay?

Yes. They give me a word count and usu­al­ly tell me what text fea­tures to include. I use exist­ing books in the series as mod­els.

Do you find that dif­fi­cult to do?

No. I find it com­fort­ing to have guide­lines. It’s sort of like putting togeth­er a jig­saw puz­zle. All the pieces are there. I just have to fig­ure out the right way to put them togeth­er.

With pic­ture books, I’m invent­ing the puz­zle. I find that chal­leng­ing, but I enjoy being able to exper­i­ment and play. It’s a more cre­ative expe­ri­ence.  

How do you keep your research orga­nized?

I don’t real­ly have a good sys­tem. I type all my notes into a Word file. Over time, it becomes unwieldy.

Before I start writ­ing, I think about the major cat­e­gories of infor­ma­tion I’ll need. Then I cut and paste, cut and paste to cre­ate major chunks of relat­ed infor­ma­tion. Depend­ing on the book, even these chunks can still be unwieldy. Thank good­ness Word allows me to do search­es to find exact­ly the infor­ma­tion I need.

Some­times I use index cards or sticky notes to help me decide the order in which these chunks will be pre­sent­ed in the book. I like that I can phys­i­cal­ly move them around.

Do you return to that research when you’re writ­ing a new book?

Some­times I try. After all, it would be more effi­cient, but there are two rea­sons that it usu­al­ly doesn’t work out.

  1. Because our knowl­edge of the world is chang­ing so quick­ly, notes I took 5 or even 3 years ago may be out of date.
  2. Even when I include the same ani­mal in two books, my hook is inevitably dif­fer­ent, so my notes may not have the spe­cif­ic details I need.

Who finds the pho­tos that are includ­ed in your books?

Some­times me. Some­times a pho­to researcher who works for the pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. And some­times we work togeth­er. It depends on the pub­lish­er and the project.

Can an Aardvark Bark, Under the Snow, A Place for Birds

Do you have any input for the illus­tra­tors who have worked on books such as Can an Aard­vark Bark? and Under the Snow and A Place for Birds?

Some­times I play a role in select­ing the illus­tra­tor, and some­times I don’t. It depends on the pub­lish­er and the project. Some­times I pro­vide a pack­age of ref­er­ence mate­ri­als for the illus­tra­tor.

Because I’m the con­tent expert, I always have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to review the illustrator’s sketch­es and com­ment on any­thing that isn’t sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly sound. It isn’t unusu­al for the illus­tra­tor to do sev­er­al sets of sketch­es. S/he keeps work­ing until all the details in the art are accu­rate.

Melissa Stewart's office

a look at Melis­sa Stewart’s office

If you could break your week down into the per­cent­ages of what you do, how much time do you spend on the dif­fer­ent tasks required of a suc­cess­ful writer?

This has shift­ed a lot over the years. When my first book was pub­lished 20 years ago, authors weren’t expect­ed to play a role in mar­ket­ing. Most children’s books were sold to schools and libraries. But in the ear­ly 2000s, school book bud­gets were slashed and many school librar­i­ans lost their jobs. For a while, there were sev­er­al large brick-and-mor­tar book­store chains, and they were major play­ers in the mar­ket. But now, most of them are gone.

Today social media is explod­ing and authors are expect­ed to be active­ly involved in sell­ing their books. And so I spend a lot of time blog­ging and tweet­ing and devel­op­ing mate­ri­als for my web­site. That means I have less time to actu­al­ly work on books.

While there real­ly is no typ­i­cal day or week, I can say that I now spend only about 50 per­cent of my time work­ing on books. The rest of the time is devot­ed to mar­ket­ing, speak­ing at schools, attend­ing con­fer­ences, and read­ing recent­ly pub­lished children’s books.

Of the time I do spend work­ing on books, prob­a­bly about 50 per­cent of the time is spent phys­i­cal­ly writ­ing. The rest of the time, I’m doing research, devel­op­ing ideas for new projects, or read­ing adult books and arti­cles about sci­ence.

What’s your favorite aspect of your career?

The phys­i­cal act of writ­ing, espe­cial­ly those mag­i­cal hours “spent in the flow.” But a close sec­ond is spend­ing time in schools speak­ing with and lis­ten­ing to kids.

What do you wish were dif­fer­ent about your career?

I don’t think any­one likes rejec­tions, but it’s an inevitable part of the writ­ing process.

If you could select one of your back­list titles, which book would you like to see peo­ple read­ing with more fre­quen­cy? Can you tell us why?

Because sci­ence is always chang­ing, some of my old­er books con­tain infor­ma­tion that is out of date. In fact, I some­times cheer when I find out a title is going out of print. I’m more than hap­py to have young read­ers focus on titles I’ve pub­lished in the last 5 or 6 years.

Curi­ous about Melissa’s books? Vis­it her web­site.

Edu­ca­tors, don’t miss the many, many resources Melis­sa has made avail­able for you. Her site is a ver­i­ta­ble trea­sure lode!

Melissa Stewart's Educators' Resources

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Why Young Writers Need an Authentic Audience

bored writerFor me, writ­ing non­fic­tion is a fun adven­ture. A game to play. A puz­zle to solve. A chal­lenge to over­come.

But many stu­dents don’t feel the same way. Accord­ing to them, research is bor­ing. Mak­ing a writ­ing plan is a waste of time. And revi­sion is more than frus­trat­ing. It’s down­right painful.

Why do young writ­ers have a point of view that’s so com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent from mine? While there’s prob­a­bly no sin­gle answer to this ques­tion, one thing that’s miss­ing for young writ­ers is an authen­tic audi­ence.

When I begin writ­ing, I know exact­ly who my audi­ence is—kids, of course, but also the adults who put the books in the hands of chil­dren. I’m excit­ed to share infor­ma­tion with my audi­ence, and I hope they’ll find it as fas­ci­nat­ing as I do.

I know peo­ple are read­ing my books because I see reviews online and in jour­nals. Even­tu­al­ly, I see sales fig­ures. Kids respond by send­ing me let­ters, by ask­ing prob­ing ques­tions at school vis­its and, some­times, by drag­ging their par­ents to book sign­ings. Teach­ers and librar­i­ans respond via social media and by invit­ing me to their schools and con­fer­ences.

These respons­es are dif­fer­ent from the ones I get from my cri­tique group and edi­tors. Sure, they read my work too, but it’s their job to find fault with it. While I appre­ci­ate and depend on their feed­back, it’s far less reward­ing than the reac­tions I get from my true audi­ence, my authen­tic audi­ence.

Stu­dents often don’t have an authen­tic audi­ence. Their teacher is like my edi­tor. And if peer cri­tiquing or bud­dy edit­ing is part of their writ­ing process, those class­mates are like my cri­tique group.

How can we give young writ­ers the kind of expe­ri­ences pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers have when they write for and get respons­es from an authen­tic audi­ence? Here are a cou­ple of ideas:

  1. Share writ­ing with younger stu­dents. Encour­age the younger stu­dents to respond with writ­ing of their own or by draw­ing pic­tures or mak­ing an audio or video record­ing.
  1. Cre­ate a class blog and encour­age stu­dents in oth­er class­es and/or par­ents to read the posts and leave meaty com­ments.

If you have oth­er sug­ges­tions, please share them in the com­ments below or via social media. I know there are lots of ways we can cre­ate an authen­tic audi­ence for our stu­dents.

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Why Students Copy Their Research Sources,
and How to Break the Habit

ResearchBy third grade, near­ly all stu­dents know what pla­gia­rism is and under­stand that it’s both immoral and ille­gal, and yet, again and again, we catch them copy­ing their sources.

Why don’t stu­dents express ideas and infor­ma­tion in their own words? Because they haven’t tak­en the time or don’t have the skills to ana­lyze and syn­the­size the mate­r­i­al they’ve col­lect­ed so that they can make their own mean­ing. In oth­er words, they haven’t found a per­son­al con­nec­tion to the con­tent, and that’s a crit­i­cal step in the non­fic­tion pre-writ­ing process.

Here are some ideas to help stu­dents break the habit:

Nix the All-About Books

The best non­fic­tion writ­ing hap­pens when stu­dents have to dig deep and think crit­i­cal­ly, so ask­ing them to write All-About books, which present a broad overview of a top­ic, is just set­ting them up for fail­ure. When stu­dents choose a nar­row top­ic that they find fas­ci­nat­ing, they’ll have to mine their sources, col­lect­ing tiny nuggets of gold here and there. This fun quest will fuel their pas­sion for the top­ic and result in engag­ing writ­ing that presents ideas and infor­ma­tion in fresh ways.

QuestionsStart with a Ques­tion

Sug­gest that stu­dents devel­op won­der ques­tions and use them to guide their research. Not only does this guar­an­tee that stu­dents will have some “skin in the game,” a spe­cif­ic query will lead to more tar­get­ed note tak­ing and require stu­dents to make con­nec­tions between infor­ma­tion they find in a vari­ety of sources.

Dual Note­tak­ing

Julie Har­matz, a fifth grade teacher in San Pedro, Cal­i­for­nia, has had great suc­cess with col­lab­o­ra­tive note­tak­ing in a Google doc. Not only do stu­dents enjoy the tech­no­log­i­cal nov­el­ty of this activ­i­ty, they gain access to the thought process­es of their partner(s). Pair­ing an adept note­tak­er with a stu­dent who’s strug­gling with this skill can be a pow­er­ful expe­ri­ence. After all, stu­dents often learn bet­ter from peer mod­el­ing than adult instruc­tion.

Jour­nal­ing

Encour­age stu­dents to review the infor­ma­tion they’ve gath­ered and jour­nal about it. This will help many chil­dren take own­er­ship of the mate­r­i­al and iden­ti­fy what fas­ci­nates them most about what they’ve dis­cov­ered. When stu­dents approach writ­ing with a clear mis­sion in mind, they’re more like­ly to present ideas through their own per­son­al lens.

Thought PromptsUse Thought Prompts

Ryan Scala, a fifth grade teacher in East Hamp­ton, New York, rec­om­mends invit­ing stu­dents to syn­the­size their research and make per­son­al con­nec­tions by using one of the fol­low­ing thought prompts:

  • The idea this gives me …
  • I was sur­prised to learn …
  • This makes me think …
  • This is impor­tant because … 

Can’t Copy

Encour­age stu­dents to use source mate­ri­als that they can’t copy, such as a doc­u­men­tary film or per­son­al obser­va­tions out­doors or via a web­cam.

WowFocus on the “Oh, wow!”

Award-win­ning children’s book author Deb­o­rah Heilig­man advis­es young writ­ers to only write down infor­ma­tion that makes them say, “Oh wow!” Then she sug­gests that they write their first draft with­out look­ing at their notes, using just what they remem­ber. Of course, they can always go back and add details, dates, etc., lat­er, but when kids are forced to write from their mem­o­ries, they write in their own voic­es, and they focus on the ideas and infor­ma­tion that inter­est them most.

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Word Search: No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys, No ChocolateIs choco­late, in any form, one of your favorite foods? Then you’ll be fas­ci­nat­ed by our fea­tured books this month. No Mon­keys, No Choco­late by Melis­sa Stew­art, Allen Young, and Nicole Wong is an excel­lent guide to under­stand­ing where our choco­late comes from (even if the part about mag­gots and ants’ brains is an eeeewww part of the process). If you love puz­zles and games, we hope you have a good time solv­ing this Word Search. 

Sim­ply use your mouse or touch pad to draw a line over your found words and the pro­gram will mark them off for you. Words can be found for­wards, back­wards, hor­i­zon­tal­ly, ver­ti­cal­ly, and diag­o­nal­ly. As you find a word, it will be high­light­ed on the board and it will dis­ap­pear from the word list.

Have fun!

Hid­den Words

Puz­zle by mypuzzle.org
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Melissa Stewart

Melissa StewartWe are so pleased to have author and sci­ence speak­er Melis­sa Stew­art take time away from her very busy book-writ­ing sched­ule to share her answers to burn­ing ques­tions we had after read­ing No Mon­keys, No Choco­late, our Book­storm this month.

Melis­sa, when do book ideas usu­al­ly come knock­ing on your brain?

Melissa's NotebookIdeas can come any­time, anywhere—so I always have to be ready. I car­ry a small note­book with me every­where I go. The idea for No Mon­keys, No Choco­late start­ed per­co­lat­ing in my mind when I saw cocoa trees grow­ing in the rain for­est dur­ing a trip to Cos­ta Rica.

As ecosys­tems go, how do you iso­late one and stick to writ­ing about it?

To me, No Mon­keys, No Choco­late isn’t real­ly about the rain for­est ecosys­tem, it’s about a tree and all the crea­tures it depends on to grow. This is all hap­pen­ing with­in a rain for­est, of course, but my goal was to keep a laser-sharp focus on the tree itself.

Cocoa tree

You revised this man­u­script 56 times, which you share so thought­ful­ly in class­room-usable detail on your Revi­sion Time­line. Is this typ­i­cal for all of your writ­ing?

For most of my books, I revise a half dozen times, but con­cept pic­ture books like No Mon­keys, No Choco­late often take quite a bit more work. It can take time and a whole lot of tri­al and error to find the very best way to present the infor­ma­tion to young read­ers.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate bookwormsWhose idea was it to include the car­toon com­men­ta­tors on each spread? Do you remem­ber why you decid­ed to include them?

The book­worms were my idea. They have two functions—to add humor (which kids love) and to rein­force some of the chal­leng­ing sci­ence ideas pre­sent­ed in the in the book’s main text.

What’s the most vital take­away you hope to inspire with No Mon­keys, No Choco­late?

I hope it will help chil­dren (and adults) under­stand that every liv­ing thing on Earth is inter­con­nect­ed, and if we want to keep enjoy­ing our favorite things (like choco­late), we need to pro­tect and pre­serve the nat­ur­al world and its amaz­ing cast of crea­tures.

Allen YoungYou worked with a co-author on this book. What role did Allen Young play and how did you work togeth­er?

For this book, I need­ed to know all the dif­fer­ent crea­tures that cocoa trees depend on to live and grow and make more cocoa trees. I read every sci­en­tif­ic paper that had ever been writ­ten about cocoa trees, but they didn’t have the infor­ma­tion I need­ed. Since it wasn’t pos­si­ble for me to spend months observ­ing cocoa trees in the rain for­est, I need­ed to find some­one who had.

That’s where Allen Young came in. He’s the world’s lead­ing expert in cocoa tree growth and he stud­ied cocoa trees in the Cos­ta Rican rain for­est for more than 30 years.  I asked Allen if he’d share his knowl­edge with me, and he said, “Yes,” as long as he could be the co-author of the book.

So I asked him a bunch of ques­tions to get the infor­ma­tion I need­ed, and then I start­ed to write. Lat­er, Allen read the man­u­script to make sure that every­thing was accu­rate.

What are the sec­ond and third most fas­ci­nat­ing ecosys­tems for you?

Oh boy, every ecosys­tem is fas­ci­nat­ing to me. One ecosys­tem that I’m dying to vis­it is the Amer­i­can South­west­ern desert. I’m hop­ing to trav­el to Ari­zona some­time in the next year.

How do you make sure that the lan­guage and con­cepts in the book fit the intend­ed audi­ence?

Cur­ricu­lum stan­dards, such as the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards, spec­i­fy what top­ics and con­cepts stu­dents at var­i­ous grade lev­els are study­ing in school, so that helps me decide whether an idea I have will work best as a pic­ture book or an ear­ly read­er or as long-form non­fic­tion for old­er read­ers.  Once I know who my audi­ence is, I can adjust the voice, point of view, hook, and text com­plex­i­ty to make the writ­ing inter­est­ing and age-appro­pri­ate.

Melissa Stewart working with a student during a school visitWhen you’re at a school talk­ing about ecosys­tems, what kind of hands-on activ­i­ties do you do with this book?

Because teach­ers want to pro­vide stu­dents with real-life exam­ples of how revi­sion can improve writ­ing, my school vis­it for No Mon­keys, No Choco­late focus­es on my 10-year process of cre­at­ing the book. I explain why it took so darn long to write the book and why I didn’t just give up. My hope is that hear­ing my sto­ry of my strug­gle and ulti­mate suc­cess will encour­age stu­dents to devel­op sta­mi­na as writ­ers.

What has cap­tured your atten­tion cur­rent­ly in the sci­ence realm?

Oh, wow, there is always some­thing new and excit­ing. That’s why I love sci­ence. I think it’s real­ly inter­est­ing to see all the amaz­ing inno­va­tions in robot research. And I’m also close­ly fol­low­ing sto­ries about new dis­cov­er­ies in space. I’m espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in know­ing if there real­ly is anoth­er plan­et out there on the lone­ly out­er fringes of our solar sys­tem. More and more, it’s look­ing like the answer is “Yes!”

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Bookstorm™: No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys Bookmap

 

No Monkeys, No ChocolateWe are pleased to fea­ture No Mon­keys, No Choco­late as our August book selec­tion, in which author and sci­ence writer Melis­sa Stew­art, along with Allen Young and illus­tra­tor Nicole Wong share the inter­de­pen­dent ecosys­tem that cre­ates the right con­di­tions for cacao beans to be grown and har­vest­ed so we can pro­duce choco­late.

This ecosys­tem is set in the rain­for­est of the Ama­zon, but there are inter­de­pen­dent ecosys­tems all over the world, vital ani­mals, rep­tiles, birds, insects, humans, and plants that are nec­es­sary for our lives to con­tin­ue on this earth. We all rely on each oth­er. We all have a part to play in pre­serv­ing a healthy Earth. We are grate­ful to authors and illus­tra­tors like Melis­sa, Allen, and Nicole who bring these con­nec­tions to our atten­tion so we can share them with chil­dren who will become the stew­ards of this plan­et.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. You’ll find books, arti­cles, and videos for a vari­ety of tastes and inter­ests. This month, we’re focus­ing on books about Amer­i­can light­hous­es, light­house keep­ers, and biogra­phies of female heroes. 

Downloadables

 

 

You’ll find more infor­ma­tion about Melis­sa Stew­art on her web­site. Illus­tra­tor Nicole Wong’s web­site will show you more of her port­fo­lio.

BOOKSTORM TOPICS

Choco­late. I know there are peo­ple who don’t like choco­late, but sure­ly they are a small per­cent­age of peo­ple in the world! As we move between descrip­tions of deca­dent choco­late plea­sures to news that it’s healthy for us to foun­tains and per­son­al­ized choco­late … these books share facts, sto­ries, and tan­ta­liz­ing pho­tographs.

Ecosys­tems. Our fea­tured book is an excel­lent descrip­tion of an ecosys­tem in which plants, ani­mals, and insects work togeth­er to cre­ate the bean that cre­ates choco­late. There are a num­ber of good exam­ples of ecosys­tems through­out the world in the books we’ve includ­ed.

Grow­ing Food. We appre­ci­ate and thank the peo­ple who work so hard to grow our food. From urban farms to rur­al ranch­es to rain­forests, the foods we tend and grow and har­vest are essen­tial to all life on earth. We hope that teach­ing chil­dren about the sources of their food, the peo­ple who grow it, and the care giv­en to the stuff of life will encour­age a healthy lifestyle.

Mon­keys. Mon­keys, chim­panzees, goril­las, apes … pri­mates have been fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple, espe­cial­ly chil­dren, since time began. And now we now they’re essen­tial for choco­late! We’ve includ­ed books that will start dis­cus­sions, answer ques­tions, and enter­tain young read­ers.

Pol­li­na­tion. The process of pol­li­na­tion, and all the ways it hap­pens, is incred­i­ble. These books are guar­an­teed to inter­est young read­ers.

Rain For­est Preser­va­tion. It’s vital for all the peo­ple of the earth to sup­port efforts to keep the rain forests of our world healthy. The more we know and under­stand about their role in our cli­mate, our air, our abil­i­ty to breathe, the more we can com­mit to doing our part as indi­vid­u­als. 

Author’s Web­site Resources. Author Melis­sa Stew­art cre­at­ed a writ­ing time­line that is use­ful in teach­ing writ­ing, espe­cial­ly expos­i­to­ry writ­ing, to your stu­dents. She has a reader’s the­ater, teach­ing guide, and sev­er­al more teach­ing aids to offer. We’ve pro­vid­ed links.

Let us know how you are mak­ing use of this Book­storm™. Share your ideas and any oth­er books you’d add to this Book­storm™.

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Look at how we’re teaching nonfiction!

Melissa Stewart working with a studentAs anoth­er school year winds to a close, I’m feel­ing encour­aged about the state of non­fic­tion read­ing and writ­ing in ele­men­tary class­rooms across the coun­try.

In 2010, when the Com­mon Core State Stan­dards were intro­duced, edu­ca­tors began ask­ing me for ideas and strate­gies for imple­ment­ing the Read­ing Infor­ma­tion­al Text stan­dards. And they were hun­gry for tips and tools that they could use to teach infor­ma­tion­al writ­ing.

Melissa Stewart's websiteSo I began to think deeply about the craft of non­fic­tion writ­ing. I described my evolv­ing insights and obser­va­tions on my blog and pro­vid­ed resources on my web­site and pin­ter­est pages.

Teach­ers, school librar­i­ans, read­ing spe­cial­ists, and lit­er­a­cy coör­di­na­tors appre­ci­at­ed what I was doing. They used my resources. They emailed me with ques­tions. They asked me to par­tic­i­pate in Twit­ter chats. And they invit­ed me to their schools. We shared ideas, and togeth­er, our under­stand­ing of non­fic­tion, espe­cial­ly expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion, grew.

Melissa Stewart in the classroom

This year I saw tan­gi­ble evi­dence that edu­ca­tors’ efforts are pay­ing off. When I vis­it­ed schools, teach­ers no longer ner­vous­ly asked me, “How can we teach non­fic­tion?” Instead, they proud­ly exclaimed, “Look at how we’re teach­ing non­fic­tion!” Then they showed me the amaz­ing projects their stu­dents had com­plet­ed.

Here are some the great ideas edu­ca­tors have shared with me.

Non­fic­tion Smack­down!
Mrs. Par­adis, teacher-librar­i­an
Plymp­ton Ele­men­tary School, Waltham, MA

Stu­dents in grades 3–5 read two non­fic­tion books on the same top­ic. Then they eval­u­ate and com­pare the two titles, record­ing their think­ing on a work­sheet like this one. When stu­dents are done, they can share their respons­es with class­mates. Or the work­sheets can be post­ed, so that oth­er stu­dents can use the infor­ma­tion to help them make book choic­es.

March Madness

March Mad­ness Non­fic­tion
Mrs. Moody, instruc­tion­al coach
Williams Ele­men­tary School, Oak­land, ME

Dur­ing the month of March, stu­dents in every grade lev­el par­tic­i­pat­ed in class­room read-alouds of six­teen non­fic­tion pic­ture books. Then the chil­dren vot­ed on their favorites. Here’s more info about this fun, whole-school activ­i­ty.

Text Fea­ture Posters
Mrs. Teany, kinder­garten teacher
Memo­r­i­al Ele­men­tary School, Med­field, MA

After read­ing a vari­ety of age-appro­pri­ate books writ­ten by me, K-2 stu­dents cre­at­ed fab­u­lous text fea­ture posters, using the ones in my books as men­tor texts. Take a look at these ter­rif­ic exam­ples.

A caption and labels highlighting a butterfly’s body parts.

A cap­tion and labels high­light­ing a butterfly’s body parts.

Hurricane Watch

Labels on a grip­ping draw­ing of a hur­ri­cane.

Dragonfly Zoom bubble

A “zoom bub­ble” show­ing a close-up view of a dragonfly’s head next to a com­plete body image with very col­or­ful wings.

Poisonous

Com­par­ing a frog and toad, high­light­ing that frogs have teeth but toads don’t. (top) Fact box­es with infor­ma­tion about two frogs, one is poi­so­nous and one isn’t. (bot­tom)

You can see more sam­ples in this fun video cre­at­ed by Mrs. Gro­den, the teacher-librar­i­an at Memo­r­i­al Ele­men­tary School.

Text Struc­ture Swap
Fourth grade teach­ing team
Kennedy Ele­men­tary School, Bil­ler­i­ca, MA

After read­ing No Mon­keys, No Choco­late, the stu­dents made book maps to get a stronger sense of the archi­tec­ture of the main text, which has what I call a cumu­la­tive sequence struc­ture (my men­tor texts were tra­di­tion­al cumu­la­tive tales, such as The House that Jack Built and I Know an Old Lady Who Swal­lowed a Fly.)

Then each child chose one exam­ple from the text and rewrote it with a cause and effect text struc­ture.  What a great idea!

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Exper­i­ment­ing with Text Struc­tures
Sec­ond grade teach­ing team
Wealthy Ele­men­tary School, East Grand Rapid, MI

Image-L_260pxWhile grow­ing bean plants, stu­dents read a wide vari­ety of age-appro­pri­ate non­fic­tion books about plants and plant growth. Then each child wrote about the beans using the text struc­ture of his or her choice. The range of sam­ples includ­ed using:

  • sequence struc­ture to describe their plant’s growth sequence.
  • com­pare and con­trast struc­ture to explain the dif­fer­ences they observed between their seed and seeds placed in low-light con­di­tions or deprived of water. 
  • cause and effect struc­ture to describe how low light or lack of water affect­ed seeds.
  • how-to struc­ture to explain how stu­dents cared for their seed.
  • descrip­tion struc­ture to doc­u­ment the appear­ance of their plant with metic­u­lous atten­tion to detail.

Wow! I was blown away.

Rad­i­cal Revi­sion!
Kennedy Ele­men­tary School
Bil­ler­i­ca, MA

As teach­ers lis­tened to me describe the 10-year process of revis­ing No Mon­keys, No Choco­late, they hatched a plan for a project I love. They’re asked first graders to write a piece of non­fic­tion. Next year, when the stu­dents are in sec­ond grade, teach­ers will share the No Mon­keys, No Choco­late Revi­sion Time­line on my web­site and ask the chil­dren to revise the piece they wrote in first grade. Good idea, right? But it gets even bet­ter. Both drafts will be placed in a fold­er, and the stu­dents will revise the piece again in third, fourth, and fifth grade.

Imag­ine how dif­fer­ent the final piece will be from the orig­i­nal! It will allow chil­dren to see tan­gi­ble evi­dence of their growth as writ­ers and give them a true sense of how long it can take to write a book.

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Authen­tic Illus­tra­tion
K-2 teach­ers, Mid­dle Gate Ele­men­tary School
New­town, CT

As teach­ers lis­tened me describe the process of mak­ing When Rain Falls, they came up with a great idea. After stu­dents have writ­ten non­fic­tion about a top­ic of their choice, chil­dren in anoth­er class at the same grade lev­el will illus­trate the text. Then the orig­i­nal writ­ers will cri­tique the artists’ work. Did they make any fac­tu­al errors in their draw­ings? This activ­i­ty mim­ics the process non­fic­tion authors go through when they review sketch­es cre­at­ed by an illus­tra­tor.

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Sci­ence and Sto­ries Lab­o­ra­to­ry
Ms. Beech­er, Lit­er­a­cy Coör­di­na­tor
Pasade­na (CA) Uni­fied School Dis­trict

Using Per­fect Pairs: Using Fic­tion & Non­fic­tion Pic­ture Books to Teach Life Sci­ence as a guide, Ms. Beech­er worked with the staff at Jack­son STEM Dual Lan­guage Mag­net Ele­men­tary School to design an inno­v­a­tive Sci­ence and Sto­ries Lab­o­ra­to­ry that immersed stu­dents in a fab­u­lous mul­ti-week adven­ture of read­ing, writ­ing, and explor­ing. Take a look at this fun video to see some of the high­lights.

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Like teach­ers all across Amer­i­ca, I’m more than ready for sum­mer break. But I’m also look­ing for­ward to see­ing even more ter­rif­ic ideas for teach­ing infor­ma­tion­al read­ing and writ­ing next year. It’s a great time for non­fic­tion!

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Books about Chocolate

Feb­ru­ary is Nation­al Choco­late Month, so how could we let it pass by with­out an homage to choco­late … in books? Far less cost­ly on the den­tal bill! “In 2009, more than 58 mil­lion pounds of choco­late were pur­chased and (like­ly) con­sumed in the days sur­round­ing Feb­ru­ary 14th — that’s about $345 mil­lion worth. (Kiri Tan­nen­baum, “8 Facts About Choco­late,” Del­ish) Were you a part of the nation­al sta­tis­tic? Here are a list of 12 books about choco­late to feed your crav­ing.

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake  

Bet­ty Bun­ny Loves Choco­late Cake 
writ­ten by Michael Kaplan
illus­trat­ed by Stephane Jorisch 
Dial Books, 2011

Bet­ty Bun­ny wants choco­late cake. Her moth­er wants her to learn patience. Bet­ty Bun­ny would rather have choco­late cake. This is a fun­ny, droll book about a spunky girl for whom wait­ing is a chal­lenge. The illus­tra­tions are filled with humor, too.

Candy Bomber

 

Can­dy Bomber: The Sto­ry of the Berlin Airlift’s “Choco­late Pilot”
writ­ten by Michael O. Tun­nell
Charles­bridge, 2010

When the Rus­sians main­tained a block­ade around West Berlin after World War II, US Air Force Lieu­tenant Gail S. Halvors­en arranged to have choco­late and gum dropped over the city by hand­ker­chief para­chutes.  Rus­sia want­ed to starve the peo­ple of West Berlin into accept­ing Com­mu­nist rule, but the Air Force con­tin­ued its sanc­tioned deliv­ery of food and goods for two years. Halvors­en would drop the can­dy for the kids of West Berlin with a wig­gle of his plane’s wings so they’d know it was him. A true sto­ry with a lot of pri­ma­ry doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  

Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­to­ry
writ­ten by Roald Dahl
illus­trat­ed by Quentin Blake
Knopf, 1964

Inspired by his school­boy expe­ri­ences of choco­late mak­ers send­ing test pack­ages to the kids in exchange for their opin­ions along­side tours of the choco­late fac­to­ries with their elab­o­rate machin­ery, Roald Dahl cre­at­ed what might be the most famous book about can­dy, and choco­late in par­tic­u­lar, in the world. As chil­dren vie for a gold­en tick­et to enter the choco­late fac­to­ry, Char­lie Buck­et finds the fifth tick­et. Liv­ing in pover­ty, it’s quite a sight for him, espe­cial­ly when the oth­er four win­ners are eject­ed igno­min­ious­ly from the fac­to­ry, leav­ing Char­lie to inher­it from Willy Won­ka. This book cel­e­brat­ed its 50th Anniver­sary in 2015.

Chock Full of Chocolate  

Chock Full of Choco­late
writ­ten by Eliz­a­beth MacLeod
illus­trat­ed by Jane Brad­ford
Kids Can Press, 2005

A great way to talk about math and process and writ­ing instruc­tions, cook­books are appeal­ing to those kids who can’t get enough of the Food Net­work. This book has 45 recipes fea­tur­ing choco­late with easy-to-under­stand instruc­tions for dish­es such as S’more Gorp, Dirt Dessert, and Can­dy-Cov­ered Piz­za.

Chocolate Fever  

Choco­late Fever
writ­ten by Robert Kim­mel Smith
illus­trat­ed by Gioia Fiammenghi
Cow­ard McCann, 1972

Hen­ry Green loves choco­late. He eats choco­late all the time in every form and shape. He’s so enam­ored of choco­late that he con­tracts Choco­late Fever. Hen­ry runs away from the doc­tor and straight into a zany adven­ture filled with humor and action. A good read-aloud.

Chocolate  

Choco­late: Sweet Sci­ence & Dark Secrets
of the World’s Favorite Treat
 

writ­ten by Kay Fry­den­borg
HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 2015

This book on choco­late for mid­dle grade read­ers cov­ers choco­late from its light to dark aspects, from the way it was dis­cov­ered to the slaves that were used to grow and har­vest it. This book address­es the his­to­ry, sci­ence, botany, envi­ron­ment, and human rights swirling around the world’s obses­sion with choco­late.

Chocolate Touch  

Choco­late Touch
writ­ten by Patrick Skene Catling
illus­trat­ed by Mar­got Apple
Harper­Collins, reis­sued in 2006

John Midas loves choco­late. He loves it so much that he′ll eat it any hour of any day. He doesn′t care if he ruins his appetite. After wan­der­ing into a can­dy store and buy­ing a piece of their best choco­late, John finds out that there might just be such a thing as too much choco­late. This take on the leg­end of King Midas is writ­ten with humor and action. First pub­lished in 1952, this is a charm­ing sto­ry.

Chocolate War  

Choco­late War
writ­ten by Robert Cormi­er
Pan­theon Books, 1974

In this clas­sic young adult nov­el, Jer­ry Renault is a fresh­man at Trin­i­ty who refus­es to engage in the school’s annu­al fundrais­er: sell­ing choco­late. Broth­er Leon, Archie Costel­lo, the Vig­ils (the school gang) all play a part in this psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller. Cormier’s writ­ing is game-chang­ing.

Milton Hershey  

Mil­ton Her­shey: Young Choco­lati­er
(Child­hood of Famous Amer­i­cans series)
writ­ten by M.M. Eboch
illus­trat­ed by Meryl Hen­der­son
Aladdin, 2008

As a young boy, Her­shey had to drop out of school to help sup­port his fam­i­ly. He was a go-get­ter. Work­ing in an ice cream par­lor gave him ideas about sweets and sell­ing choco­late to the pub­lic. He start­ed his own busi­ness, work long and hard to per­fect the choco­late his com­pa­ny sells to this day, and learned a good deal about eco­nom­ics, mar­ket­ing, and run­ning a com­pa­ny. An inter­est­ing biog­ra­phy for young read­ers.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate  

No Mon­keys, No Choco­late
writ­ten by Melis­sa Stew­art and Allen Young
illus­trat­ed by Nicole Wong
Charles­bridge, 2013

A good look at the ecosys­tem and inter­de­pen­dence of a choco­late tree and the live­ly mon­keys that chew on its pods as they swing through the jun­gle, dis­trib­ut­ing seeds. Read­ers look at the one tree’s life cycle, exam­in­ing the flo­ra, fau­na, ani­mals, and insects that con­tribute to the mak­ing of cacao. Two book­worms on each page com­ment on the infor­ma­tion, mak­ing this infor­ma­tion even more acces­si­ble.

Smart About Chocolate  

Smart About Choco­late: a Sweet His­to­ry
writ­ten by San­dra Markle
illus­trat­ed by Charise Mer­i­cle Harp­er
Gros­set & Dun­lap, 2004

A book shar­ing many facts about the his­to­ry and mak­ing of choco­late, it’s short and engag­ing. Illus­trat­ed with car­toons and dia­logue bub­bles, pho­tos and charts, this is a good sur­vey of choco­late. Includes a recipe and sug­ges­tions for fur­ther read­ing.

This Books is Not Good For You  

This Book Is Not Good for You
writ­ten by pseu­do­ny­mous bosch
Lit­tle, Brown, 2010

In this third book in the series, Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yo-Yoji work to dis­cov­er the where­abouts of the leg­endary tun­ing fork so they can get Cass’s Mom back after she’s kid­napped by the evil dessert chef and choco­lati­er Señor Hugo. High adven­ture with a fun atti­tude.

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Bookstorm™: Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed Bookstorm

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThis month, we are pleased to fea­ture Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, writ­ten by Ani­ta Sil­vey, with pho­tographs and book designed by the incred­i­ble team at Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. This book is not only fas­ci­nat­ing to read, it’s a beau­ti­ful read­ing expe­ri­ence as well.

It’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the child­hood of a woman who has fol­lowed a brave, and car­ing, career path, but also fol­lows her through more than 50 years in that cho­sen pro­fes­sion, describ­ing her work, dis­cov­er­ies, and her pas­sion for the mam­mals with whom she works. I learned so much I didn’t know about Dr. Goodall and her chim­panzees, Africa, field work, and how one moves peo­ple to sup­port one’s cause.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. For Untamed, you’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes and inter­ests. The book will be com­fort­ably read by ages 9 through adult. We’ve includ­ed fic­tion and non­fic­tion, pic­ture books, mid­dle grade books, and books adults will find inter­est­ing. A num­ber of the books are by Dr. Jane Goodall herself—she’s a pro­lif­ic writer. We’ve also includ­ed books about teach­ing sci­ence, as well as videos, and arti­cles acces­si­ble on the inter­net.

Jane Goodall and Her Research. From Me … Jane, the pic­ture by Patrick McDon­nell about Jane Goodall’s child­hood, to Jane Goodall: the Woman Who Rede­fined Man by Dale Peter­son, there are a num­ber of acces­si­ble books for every type of read­er.

Pri­mate Research. We’ve includ­ed non­fic­tion books such as Pamela S. Turner’s Goril­la Doc­tors and Jim Otta­viani and Maris Wick’s Pri­mates, a graph­ic nov­el about the three women who devot­ed so much of their loves to study­ing pri­mates: Jane Goodall, Dian Fos­sey, and Biruté Galdikas.

Chim­panzees. Dr. Goodall’s research is specif­i­cal­ly about chim­panzees so com­pan­ion books such as Michele Colon’s Ter­mites on a Stick and Dr. Goodall’s Chim­panzees I Love: Sav­ing Their World and Ours are sug­gest­ed.

Fic­tion. Many excel­lent nov­els have been writ­ten about pri­mates and Africa and con­ser­va­tion, rang­ing from real­ism to sci­ence fic­tion and a nov­el based on a true sto­ry. Among our list, you’ll find Lin­da Sue Park’s A Long to Water and Eva by Peter Dick­in­son and The One and Only Ivan by Kather­ine Apple­gate.

World-Chang­ing Women and Women Sci­en­tists. Here you’ll find pic­ture book biogra­phies, longer non­fic­tion books, and col­lec­tions of short biogra­phies such as Girls Think of Every­thing by Cather­ine Thimmesh, Silk & Ven­om by Kathryn Lasky, and Rad Amer­i­can Women: A to Z by Kate Schatz.

Africa. The titles about, or set on, this con­ti­nent are numer­ous. Learn­ing About Africa by Robin Koontz pro­vides a use­ful and cur­rent intro­duc­tion to the con­ti­nent. We also looked for books by authors who were born in or lived for a while in an African coun­try; Next Stop—Zanzibar! by Niki Daly and Mag­ic Gourd by Coret­ta Scott King Hon­oree Baba Wague Diakiteare are includ­ed in this sec­tion.

Ani­mal Friend­ships. Chil­dren and adults alike crave these sto­ries about unlike­ly friend­ships between ani­mals who don’t nor­mal­ly hang around togeth­er. From Cather­ine Thimmesh’s Friends: True Sto­ries of Extra­or­di­nary Ani­mal Friend­ships to Mar­i­on Dane Bauer’s A Mama for Owen, you’ll be charmed by these books.

Ani­mals In Dan­ger of Extinc­tion. We’ve includ­ed only two books in this cat­e­go­ry but both of them should be stars in your book­talks. Count­ing Lions by Katie Cot­ton, illus­trat­ed by Stephen Wal­ton, is a stun­ning book—do find it! Dr. Goodall con­tributes a mov­ing book, Hope for Ani­mals and Their World: How Endan­gered Species Are Being Res­cued from the Brink.

Teach­ing Sci­ence. If you’re work­ing with young chil­dren in grades K through 2, you’ll want Per­fect Pairs by Melis­sa Stew­art and Nan­cy Ches­ley. For old­er stu­dents in grades 3 through 6, Pic­ture-Per­fect Sci­ence Lessons will inspire you.

Let us know how you are mak­ing use of this Book­storm™. Share your ideas and any oth­er books you’d add to this Book­storm™.

Downloadables

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Melissa Stewart: A Different View

9_30BubblesRecent­ly, I spent sev­er­al weeks strug­gling with a work in progress. Day after day, the words just wouldn’t flow.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there’s no way to force a stub­born man­u­script. I just have to focus on some­thing else until my mind some­how sorts things out. Some­times I begin work on a dif­fer­ent book, but in this case, I decid­ed to tack­le a long-neglect­ed task—organizing my dig­i­tal pho­tos.

As I sort­ed images, I stum­bled upon this fun pho­to of my nieces when they were 6 and 8 years old. What are they doing? They’re dis­cussing the rain­bow pat­terns in the soap bub­bles they just blew—a pur­suit I approve of whole heart­ed­ly.

9_15Bubbles

See­ing this pho­to remind­ed me of anoth­er expe­ri­ence I had with my nieces the same sum­mer. We were out in the back­yard doing som­er­saults and cart­wheels (Well, they were doing the gym­nas­tics. I was the delight­ed audi­ence.) when my younger niece sud­den­ly stopped mid-tumble—butt in the air, head between her legs.

Wow,” she said. “I nev­er looked at the sky like this before. It’s beau­ti­ful. Try it, Aunt Mis.”

Sure, I want­ed to uphold my sta­tus as her favorite aunt, but I was also curi­ous. So I walked out onto the grass and mim­ic­ked her posi­tion. And do you know what? She was right. The sky real­ly was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly beau­ti­ful.

My oth­er niece joined us, and all three of us stayed in that posi­tion, just gaz­ing at the stun­ning  blue sky for quite a while—until the blood rushed to our heads.

Think­ing about that day remind­ed me that look­ing at some­thing from anoth­er point of view—turning it upside down or inside out—can help us appre­ci­ate it in a whole new way. Inspired by that mem­o­ry, I decid­ed to read por­tions of my trou­ble­some man­u­script while lying on my back with my head dan­gling upside down off the edge of the bed.

Sounds crazy, right?

But guess what. A few hours lat­er I was sud­den­ly struck by an idea, an insight. Some­thing had shift­ed in my mind, and I was able to see my writ­ing in a whole new way. Eure­ka!

For the last few days, I’ve been revis­ing like mad. I’m still not sure if this new approach will work, but I’m feel­ing opti­mistic.

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Teaching K-2 Science with Confidence

Per­fect Pairs: Using Fic­tion and Non­fic­tion Books to Teach Life Sci­ence, K-2
Melis­sa Stew­art and Nan­cy Ches­ley
Sten­house Books, 2014

Authen­tic sci­ence always begins with a ques­tion, with a fleet­ing thought, with a curi­ous per­son. That curi­ous per­son has an idea, won­ders if it is valid, and then tries to find out. Because won­der­ing is at the heart of dis­cov­ery, each Per­fect Pairs les­son starts with a Won­der State­ment that we’ve care­ful­ly craft­ed to address one Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards Per­for­mance Expec­ta­tion. It is fol­lowed by a Learn­ing Goal, which clear­ly spec­i­fies the new knowl­edge and essen­tial under­stand­ing stu­dents will gain from the les­son. Togeth­er, the Won­der State­ment, Learn­ing Goal, and fic­tion-non­fic­tion book pair launch stu­dents into a fun and mean­ing­ful inves­tiga­tive process. (Per­fect Pairs, pg. 8)

Perfect PairsMelis­sa Stew­art, you and edu­ca­tor Nan­cy Ches­ley cre­at­ed Per­fect Pairs for teach­ers because you felt that children’s lit­er­a­ture could be a fun and effec­tive start­ing point for teach­ing life sci­ence to stu­dents in grades K-2.

In your intro­duc­tion, you state that “many ele­men­tary teach­ers do not have a strong sci­ence back­ground. Some even report being intim­i­dat­ed by their school’s sci­ence cur­ricu­lum and feel ill-equipped to teach basic sci­ence con­cepts. Build­ing sci­ence lessons around children’s books enables many ele­men­tary edu­ca­tors to approach sci­ence instruc­tion with greater con­fi­dence.”

Why does this mat­ter to you?

Because stu­dents can tell when their teach­ers are com­fort­able and con­fi­dent, and when they’re hav­ing fun. If a teacher has a pos­i­tive atti­tude, his or her stu­dents are more like­ly to stay engaged and embrace the con­tent.

So many adults are turned off by or even afraid of sci­ence. They say, “Oh, that’s hard. That’s not for me.” But sci­ence is just the study of how our won­der­ful world works. It affects every­thing we do every day. I hope that Per­fect Pairs will help teach­ers and stu­dents to see that.

What type of sci­ence edu­ca­tion did you receive that pro­pels you to pro­vide this aid to edu­ca­tors?

I do have a degree in biol­o­gy, but my sci­ence edu­ca­tion real­ly began at home with my par­ents. My dad was an engi­neer and my mom worked in a med­ical lab­o­ra­to­ry. From a very young age, they helped me see that sci­ence is part of our lives every day.

As a children’s book author, my goal is to share the beau­ty and won­der of the nat­ur­al world with young read­ers. Per­fect Pairs is an exten­sion of that mis­sion. Nan­cy and I have cre­at­ed a resource to help teach­ers bring that mes­sage to their stu­dents.

For each les­son, where did you start mak­ing your choic­es, with the top­ic, the fic­tion book, or the non­fic­tion book?

We began with the NGSS Per­for­mance Expec­ta­tions, which out­line the con­cepts and skills stu­dents are expect­ed to mas­ter at each grade lev­el.  Each PE has three parts—a dis­ci­pli­nary core idea (the con­tent), a prac­tice (behav­iors young sci­en­tists should engage in, such as ask­ing ques­tions, devel­op­ing mod­els, plan­ning and car­ry­ing out inves­ti­ga­tions, con­struct­ing expla­na­tions, etc.), and a cross-cut­ting con­cept (pat­tern, cause and effect, struc­ture and func­tion, etc.) that bridges all areas of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing. Here’s a sam­ple PE for kinder­garten: “Use obser­va­tions to describe [prac­tice] pat­terns [cross­cut­ting con­cept] of what plants and ani­mals (includ­ing humans) need to sur­vive. [DCI]

Just Like My Papa and Bluebirds Do ItNext, we searched for fic­tion and non­fic­tion books that could be used to help stu­dents gain an under­stand­ing of the tar­get PE. The books became the heart of a care­ful­ly scaf­fold­ed les­son that ful­ly addressed the PE.

In Les­son 1.7,How Young Ani­mals Are Like Their Par­ents,” you paired Toni Buzzeo’s fic­tion title Just Like My Papa with Pamela F. Kirby’s non­fic­tion title, What Blue­birds Do. For this les­son, the Won­der State­ment is “I won­der how young ani­mals are like their par­ents.” Your les­son focus­es on Inher­i­tance of Traits and Vari­a­tion of Traits, look­ing at sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences.

With each les­son, you pro­vide tips for les­son prepa­ra­tion, engag­ing stu­dents, explor­ing with stu­dents, and encour­ag­ing stu­dents to draw con­clu­sions. What process is this estab­lish­ing for teach­ers?

We hope that our three-step inves­tiga­tive process (engag­ing stu­dents, explor­ing with stu­dents, and encour­ag­ing stu­dents to draw con­clu­sions) is some­thing that teach­ers will inter­nal­ize and adopt as they devel­op more sci­ence lessons in the future. The first step focus­es on whet­ting stu­dents’ appetites with a fun activ­i­ty or game. Dur­ing the sec­ond step, teach­ers read the books aloud and work with stu­dents to extract and orga­nize key con­tent from the fic­tion and non­fic­tion texts. Then, dur­ing the final step, stu­dents syn­the­size the infor­ma­tion from the books and     do a fun minds-on activ­i­ty that involves the NGSS prac­tice asso­ci­at­ed with the PE. The prac­tices are impor­tant because research shows that chil­dren learn bet­ter when they actu­al­ly “do” sci­ence.

This Wonder Journal entry shows what a student thinks a young bluebird might look like, pg 149.

This Won­der Jour­nal entry shows what a stu­dent thinks a young blue­bird might look like, pg 149.

In many cas­es, you’ve not only pro­vid­ed ques­tions that teach­ers can ask their stu­dents, but you’ve includ­ed the answers.  Is this the only pos­si­ble answer to the ques­tion?  

In many cas­es, we’ve includ­ed answers to help the teacher learn the sci­ence before work­ing with his or her class. Many ele­men­tary teach­ers have a lim­it­ed sci­ence back­ground and need the sup­port we’ve pro­vid­ed.

Our answers may not be the only ones that stu­dents sug­gest, but they are the ones teach­ers should guide their class to con­sid­er because they devel­op stu­dent think­ing in the right direc­tion for the con­cepts we are tar­get­ing in that par­tic­u­lar les­son.

Establishing a STEM bookshelf in your classroom is one way to promote reading these books as a special experience.

Estab­lish­ing a STEM book­shelf in your class­room is one way to pro­mote read­ing these books as a spe­cial expe­ri­ence.

I appre­ci­ate the pho­tos and exam­ples and kids’ draw­ings you’ve includ­ed through­out the book. How did you go about col­lect­ing these visu­als?

Nan­cy test­ed all the lessons in the book at Pow­nal Ele­men­tary School in Maine. She took the pho­tographs as she was work­ing with the stu­dents, and the stu­dent work in the book was cre­at­ed by those chil­dren. I love the pho­tos because you can tell that the chil­dren are real­ly enjoy­ing them­selves.

Students play the seed-plant Concentration game, pg. 225

Stu­dents play the seed-plant Con­cen­tra­tion game, pg. 225

You pro­vide more than 70 repro­ducibles to accom­pa­ny the lessons in your book, from Won­der Jour­nal Labels to Read­ers’ The­ater Script to sam­ple Data Tables to draw­ing tem­plates. How did you decide which items to pro­vide to teach­ers using your book?

Writ­ing can be a chal­lenge for K-2 stu­dents. We cre­at­ed the Won­der Jour­nal Labels to min­i­mize the amount of writ­ing the chil­dren would have to do. The goal of the oth­er repro­ducibles was to help teach­ers as much as pos­si­ble and reduce their prep time. It was impor­tant to us to cre­ate lessons that were easy and inex­pen­sive to imple­ment.

Lesson 1.7 Wonder Journal Labels, pg. 299

Les­son 1.7 Won­der Jour­nal Labels, pg. 299

To Melis­sa and Nan­cy, I express my grat­i­tude for thought­ful­ly prepar­ing this guide, Per­fect Pairs, that will make sci­ence lessons an approach­able part of les­son plan­ning. Thank you!

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Skinny Dip with Melissa Stewart

Feathers

Charles­bridge, 2014

What keeps you up at night? 

Noth­ing. I fall asleep the instant my head touch­es the pil­low, and I’m prob­a­bly the world’s sound­est sleep­er.

Describe your all-time favorite pair of paja­mas.

When I was in col­lege, I spent a term at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bath in Bath, Eng­land, and rent­ed a room at a house near­by. Because heat­ing oil is so expen­sive in Great Britain, most peo­ple keep their homes very cool in win­ter. My lit­tle room at the top of the house was freez­ing. Luck­i­ly, my mom found a pair of adult-size paja­mas with feet and sent them to me along with a very warm hat and mit­tens. I was so grate­ful.

What’s the first book you remem­ber read­ing? 

Mr. Mys­te­ri­ous and Com­pa­ny by Sid Fleis­chman. I’m thrilled that I was able to meet Mr. Fleis­chman and tell him how much his book meant to me.

What TV show can’t you turn off? 

The Voice.

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal? 

I’m not very ath­let­ic, but I do like minia­ture golf. I don’t think that’s an Olympic sport, but it should be.

 

 

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Melissa Stewart: A Fresh Look at Expository Nonfiction

No Monkeys No Chocolate

No Mon­keys, No Choco­late Allen Young, co-author illus­trat­ed by Nicole Wang Charles­bridge, 2013

by Melis­sa Stew­art

Nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion. The words have a nice ring to them, don’t they?

Expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion? Not so much.

Rhymes with gory, pur­ga­to­ry, deroga­to­ry, lava­to­ry. Gesh, it’s no won­der expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion gets a bad rap. And yet, plen­ty of great non­fic­tion for kids is expos­i­to­ry. Its main pur­pose is to explain, describe, or inform.

As far as I’m con­cerned, this is a gold­en moment for expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion because, in recent years, it’s gone through an excit­ing trans­for­ma­tion. Once upon a time, it was bor­ing and stodgy and mat­ter-of-fact, but today’s non­fic­tion books MUST delight as well as inform young read­ers, and authors are work­ing hard to do just that. The expos­i­to­ry books we’re cre­at­ing fea­ture engag­ing text, often with a strong voice, as well as dynam­ic art and design.

Here are ten of my recent favorites:

  • A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Car­olyn Cina­mi DeCristo­fano
  • Bone by Bone: Com­par­ing Ani­mal Skele­tons by Sarah Levine
  • Born in the Wild: Baby Mam­mals and Their Par­ents by Lita Judge
  • Bugged: How Insects Changed the World by Sarah Albee
  • Crea­ture Fea­tures by Steve Jenk­ins & Robin Page
  • Feath­ers: Not Just for Fly­ing by Melis­sa Stew­art
  • Frogs by Nic Bish­op
  • Look Up! Bird-Watch­ing in Your Own Back­yard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
  • Neo Leo by Gene Bar­ret­ta
  • Tiny Crea­tures: The Invis­i­ble World of Microbes by Nico­la Davies
Feathers

Feath­ers
Sarah S. Bran­nen, illus­tra­tor
Charles­bridge, 2014

There is also a sec­ond kind of expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion books. Some peo­ple call them data books. I pre­fer to call them fast-fact books to dis­tin­guish them from the facts-plus books list­ed above.

Facts-plus books focus on facts as well as over­ar­ch­ing ideas. In oth­er words, they present facts and explain them. Fast-fact books focus on shar­ing cool facts. Peri­od. They inform, and that’s all. Exam­ples include The Guin­ness Book of World Records and The Time for Kids Big Book of Why. These are the con­cise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read togeth­er and dis­cuss.

Some peo­ple don’t have a very high opin­ion of fast-fact books, and to be sure, they don’t build read­ing sta­mi­na or crit­i­cal think­ing skills. BUT they do entice many reluc­tant read­ers to pick up a book, and IMHO that alone makes them worth­while.

Why do stu­dents need to be exposed to a diverse array of expos­i­to­ry texts? Because it’s the style of non­fic­tion they’ll be asked to write most fre­quent­ly through­out their school years and in their future jobs. Whether they’re work­ing on a report, a the­sis, a busi­ness pro­pos­al, or even a com­pa­ny newslet­ter, they’ll need to know how to sum­ma­rize infor­ma­tion and syn­the­size ideas in a way that is clear, log­i­cal, and inter­est­ing to their read­ers. Today’s expos­i­to­ry children’s books make ide­al men­tor texts for mod­el­ing these skills.

 

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From the Editor: Welcome

by Mar­sha Qua­ley

Wel­come to Bookol­o­gy.

WelcomeWhat began almost a year ago as a con­ver­sa­tion among col­leagues has now tak­en shape and arrived on your vir­tu­al doorstep: an e-mag­a­zine ded­i­cat­ed to nur­tur­ing the essen­tial con­ver­sa­tion about the role of children’s books in the K-8 class­room.

That meet­ing was con­vened by Vic­ki and Steve Palmquist, own­ers and founders of Wind­ing Oak and per­haps more famil­iar to many of you as the founders and heart­beat of Children’s Lit­er­a­ture Net­work, an orga­ni­za­tion they rolled up last year after pro­vid­ing 12 years of lead­er­ship as well as an unpar­al­leled online plat­form for com­mu­ni­ca­tion between children’s book cre­ators and the adults who love those books.

Vic­ki and Steve want­ed to cre­ate a sim­i­lar online pres­ence, one that would not only high­light the work of Wind­ing Oak’s many clients, but which would also invite a larg­er net­work of read­ers, writ­ers, illus­tra­tors, teach­ers, and librar­i­ans into the con­ver­sa­tion.

A quick guide to what you’ll see each month:

A Book­storm ™.  Each “storm” begins with one book. From there we spin out a cross-cur­ricu­lum array of sub­jects and pro­vide titles for each cat­e­go­ry. Com­mon Core, STEM/STEAM, state standards—any cur­ricu­lum struc­ture will be served by the Book­storm™ bib­li­og­ra­phy. But we also go beyond a sim­ple list, and each month much of the Bookol­o­gy con­tent we present will emanate from the Book­storm™ titles.

Columns.  Whether writ­ten by one of our reg­u­lars or a guest writer, these posts are intend­ed to share the voic­es of peo­ple immersed in the world of children’s lit­er­a­ture. We are espe­cial­ly delight­ed to launch “Knock Knock,” a blog col­lec­tive from Wind­ing Oak’s many clients that will appear on alter­nate Tues­days. Heather Vogel Fred­er­ick game­ly accept­ed the assign­ment to write the inau­gur­al col­umn; she’ll be fol­lowed up lat­er this month by Melis­sa Stew­art and Avi.

Inter­views and arti­cles. We will be vis­it­ing with illus­tra­tors, writ­ers, teach­ers, librar­i­ans and oth­ers in order to expand what we all know and under­stand about children’s lit­er­a­ture. We’ll also be offer­ing a lighter, more humor­ous get­ting-to-know-you inter­view venue: Skin­ny Dips, in which we ask about almost any­thing except the cre­ative process.

We will scat­ter about the mag­a­zine fea­tures and inci­den­tals we hope will be of inter­est, such as Lit­er­ary Madeleines—dis­cov­er­ies that even the vet­er­an read­ers on the staff savored—and Time­lines, quick at-a-glance looks at sem­i­nal books in a genre or sub­ject. Con­test, quizzes, and book-give­aways will also appear through­out the month.

What you won’t see are book reviews. While many of our arti­cles and columns will of course dis­cuss and rec­om­mend books, those rec­om­men­da­tions will always be in con­text of a larg­er top­ic. There are plen­ty of book review forums avail­able, and we weren’t inter­est­ed in adding to those voic­es.

And for now you won’t see “Com­ments” sec­tions. This is iron­ic of course in view of our stat­ed mis­sion of nur­tur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion; we’ll open those, and soon. In the mean­time, should you have a com­ment or sug­ges­tion or request, send me a note.  marsha.qualey@bookologymagazine.com

Thanks for your time and inter­est. Now please go explore Bookol­o­gy.

 

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Bank Street’s 2010 Choices

We eager­ly await the annu­al list of books cho­sen by the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion as books that work well with chil­dren from birth to age 14. Each year, the Children’s Book Com­mit­tee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accu­ra­cy and lit­er­ary qual­i­ty and con­sid­ers their emo­tion­al impact on chil­dren. It choos­es the […]

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Monday Morning Round-Up

From Wen­dell Minor comes this news (applause, please),  “It′s offi­cial: the orig­i­nal art from Look to the Stars will be includ­ed in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of The New Britain Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art, and the orig­i­nal art from Abra­ham Lin­coln Comes Home will be includ­ed in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of The Nor­man Rock­well Muse­um. Watch […]

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Monday morning roundup

Hey, Joyce Sid­man, your new book, Ubiq­ui­tous, has done the Most Unusu­al … five starred reviews! In 2009, only 13 books received five starred reviews (if you’re curi­ous, check out the See­ing Stars 2009 doc­u­ment, stored on Radar, the CLN mem­bers’ home page). Book­list, The Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Pub­lish­ers Week­ly, and School Library Jour­nal […]

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