Double Duty


I’m always looking for books that can do double duty – A great reading book I can use to teach science or social studies.  This year non-fiction authors and editors have produced some wonderful titles.  These are my favorites for 2015.  Check them out.  You may want to add them to your classroom library!

(These are from the 2015 ALSC Notable Books list.)


Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes. By Nicola Davies, Illus. by Emily Sutton. Candlewick.

This straightforward narrative introduces young readers to microbes through simple descriptions, colorful examples, and concise writing.  Watercolor images illustrate the examples and create a nostalgic feel.

 Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, By Loree Griffin Burns. Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. Millbrook/Lerner.

In this handsome book with glorious photographs, children can follow the life cycle of a butterfly from a farm in Costa Rica to a live museum exhibit in the U. S.

winterbeesWinter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. By Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Rick Allen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

A collection of 12 poems about northern tundra wildlife uses a variety of poetic structures and includes additional information on each creature. Vivid linoleum-cut illustrations.

41hiaMwx-iL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery. By Sandra Markle. Illus. Millbrook.

Follow the scientific method as a group of researchers notice something wrong with the little brown bat population and search for a way to save them.  Stunning photographs make the discovery even more fascinating.

chasingChasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats. By Sy Montgomery. Photographs by Nic Bishop. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Montgomery and Bishop join the Cheetah Conservation Fund in the African wilderness, studying the cheetah’s ecological, genetic, and behavioral patterns in order to chase down the fastest animal in the world.

Social Studies

firebirdFirebird. By Misty Copeland. Illus. by Christopher Myers. Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s.

Famed ballerina Misty Copeland encourages a young African-American girl to follow her dreams to be a prima ballerina in this poetic text vividly illustrated with evocative collages.

anfel islandAngel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. By Russell Freedman. Illus. Chinese poems Tr. by Evans Chan. Clarion.

More than half a million people from 80 countries arrived at Angel Island California between 1910 and 1940.  Freedman tells their stories in this well documented and handsomely illustrated book that illuminates a little known piece of history.

freedomsummerFreedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. By Susan Goldman Rubin. Illus. Holiday.

A well-researched and beautifully written explanation of the attempts to enfranchise Mississippi blacks.  Rubin writes about the murder of three young civil rights workers with a superb sense of suspense and dread.




fractalsMysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature. By Sarah C. Campbell. Photographs by the author and Richard P. Campbell. Boyds Mills.

Found everywhere in nature, fractals are shapes that are not perfect but change in the same way over and over.  Photographs show where these marvels can be found and clear language will engage readers to be more observant and see the correlation between nature and math.

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