Whenever I select books to read aloud to my K-5 students I tend to gravitate towards fiction. Usually this is because of the format: large picture books usually come with great illustrations. But there are plenty of nonfiction books that are perfect for large(er) audiences. Here are some of my nonfiction picture book picks for World Read Aloud Day (or week as the case may be!). What are your favorite nonfiction read-alouds, both past and present?
The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States
Written and illustrated by Alice Provensen
This picture book works two-fold: as a rhyming read-aloud that briefly describes each president (the 2010 edition include Barack Obama) combined with detailed illustrations and captions that are perfect for post read-aloud persuasion.
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map
Written by Sue Macy
Illustrated by Matt Collins
This boldly illustrated picture book recounts the first basketball game played between the women of Stanford and UC Berkeley in 1896. Told through the eyes of player Agnes Morley, it deftly weaves facts about the women’s “version” of the sport and includes a nice bibliography and author’s note for more study. Large, broad illustrations will reach even those sitting in back row of the story time carpet.
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
Written by Laban Carrick Hill
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
In my library, this book evoked many, many questions from my fourth graders, which is what an ideal non-fiction picture book can do. Questions included, “How did they know he was a slave?”, “How did they know the pots were made by Dave?”, and “Are there any of his pots that survive today?”. Fortunately, this book, illustrated in lovely earthen tones, provides information on examining what is know about this man, who lived as a slave and a potter in 1800s North Carolina.
Henry’s Freedom Box
Written by Ellen Levine
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Every year I read this book to my fourth graders and every year the wonder and tragedy of the entire situation, from Henry’s family being sold away to his idea to mail himself to Philadelphia, have my students riveted. We conclude this read-aloud by taping off the dimensions of Henry’s “freedom box” so that students can have an idea of the confined space in which he traveled.
Star of the Sea
Written by Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Joan Paley
This nonfiction text does a great job of demonstrating how facts can be linked together to create interesting narration. A Montessori class at my school read this book about the starfish, how it hunts and regenerates limbs to a kindergarten class at Amy’s school for World Read Aloud Day this week. My students loved the illustrations.
What are some of your favorite nonfiction read alouds?