Archive for 2012

Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals

Written by Damien Laverdunt
Illustrated by Hélène Rajcak

Buy on Amazon

This is an enticing mix of mythology and science to tell the history of many animals world-wide that are now extinct. Some of the animals died because of the encroachment of man, but for others there may be many reasons for their extinction. Weather, food and predators all play a part in the life and death of these animals. The book is divided by continents, with a map spread out over two-pages showing exactly where the natural habitats of these animals were. There are basic facts about their size, what they probably ate, where they lived and approximately when they became extinct. » Read more

Outstanding Science Trade Books 2013

NSTA Winning Titles by Reading Level (Lexile)

This week, the National Science Teacher’s Association and the Children’s Book Council announced the Outstanding Science Trade Books 2013 list. These titles represent the best of the science and science-related books (informational texts) of the year, making it a great Common Core reading list for 2013. With the Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction, these titles should be high on your list of new books.

The NSTA’s list is presented as an alphabetized list. However, it’s more helpful for CommonCore use if the titles are organized by reading level. I’ve used the Lexile when available, or the AR (ATOS) rating. For a few titles, there are no reading levels available; these titles only have suggested age ranges or grade levels and I’ve added them in the appropriate slot. Some are listed in more than one grade level because cross-over in the Lexiles. For more on choosing appropriate texts for a lesson, see our Text Complexity Tool.

There are books for K-12, biographies, nature, weather, archeology, climatology, physics, forensics, astronomy, medical, microbiology, habitats, chemistry, botany, zoology and more–something for everyone. Some great read alouds, too.

Appendix A, August 2012 Supplement: Reading Levels for Common Core. Click to see full size.

Great NonFiction for 2013!


On a personal note: Yes! You’ll find my title, Desert Baths on this list! It is one of the few on the list available as a Kindle; and maybe one of the very few available in Spanish, as Las ducas en el desierto. For more, click here.


4th-5th 740-1010L

  • AR 4.1 Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird. Stephanie Spinner. Random House/Knopf.
    Good literature bringing attention to the intelligence of animals and treatment of pets, and the story line emphasizes the ongoing nature of this research on animal behavior.
  • 740L Eye of the Storm. Kate Messner. Walker Books for Young Readers.
    Good engineering and science fiction connections make this a good resource for the NGSS.
  • 740L Gopher to the Rescue. Terry Catasús Jennings. Sylvan Dell Publishing.
    A good story that gives an unusual perspective on a current topic, showing succession after a fire.
  • 790L Ladybugs. Gail Gibbons. Holiday House.
    A nice introduction with links to organic farming; good text elements like pronunciation guide and context clues for building reading skills. Read the review.
  • 800L D is for Desert. Barbara Gowan. Sleeping Bear Press.
    Dual-level book, with rhyming couplets to read aloud. Many possibilities to link to social studies.
  • AD 800L Body Actions. Shelley Rotner. Holiday House.
    A great introduction to body systems for children; easy to understand at that grade level.
  • 820L Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Laurie Lawlor. Holiday House.
    What an inspiration for young girls who might become scientists. Beyond outstanding, 50 years after Rachel Carson’s landmark book. Illustrations, text, epilogue, and source notes add to the quality. Read the review.
  • 860L Dolphin Baby. Nicola Davies. Candlewick Press.
    With very simple vocabulary, smooth flowing text, and sound science facts, this book will engage early readers.
  • 870L Desert Baths. Darcy Pattison. Sylvan Dell Publishing.
    Great compare-and-contrast text of animals performing common tasks.
  • N/A Gr5-9 The Book of Blood. HP Newquist. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    This will appeal to a wide audience and does a good job of describing many anecdotes about blood–even why the myth of vampires persisted in history.
  • 890L Nature’s Patchwork Quilt. Mary Miché. Dawn Publications.
    The illustrations make this book on habitats stand out; great text for integrating language arts because of treatment of key words. Read the review.
  • AD 890L Waiting for Ice. Sandra Markle. Charlesbridge.
    Touching, fact-based story about a bear observed in the wild. An important topic told in an accurate and interesting way.
  • 910L The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Penguin/Dial.
    The engineering and technology in the book’s story makes it a great STEM resource and an inspirational human story.
  • 920L Bomb. Steve Sheinkin. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Roaring Brook Press/Flash Point.
    Lots of science, with a thread of intrigue running through it that will keep secondary students going.
  • 950L The Mighty Mars Rovers. Elizabeth Rusch. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    A timely topic; photographs of a working lab help students avoid misconceptions.
  • 960L Temple Grandin. Sy Montgomery. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    The autobiography of the autistic expert on animal treatment will be inspirational to a subset of students as well as to all readers.
  • 970L Saving Animals from Oil Spills. Stephen Person. Bearport Publishing.
    Timely and well-written, this story integrates science and society.
  • 1010L Barnum’s Bones. Tracey Fern. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.
  • AR5.1 Nic Bishop Snakes. Nic Bishop. Scholastic.
    The photographer “blows the reader out of the water” with his photos; this will get every reader interested and enable inquiry.
  • AR5.9 I, Galileo. Bonnie Christensen. Random House/Knopf.
    Young students can be introduced to Galileo in this appealing book with great resources.
  • AR5.9 The Beetle Book. Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    Interesting illustrations bring this book of beetles to life, and turns this field guide into a favorite for young insect lovers.
  • AR6.1 What Color Is My World? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld. Candlewick Press.
    Integrated with technology, engineering and social studies, this book highlights unknown inventors. Useful for Invention units and STEM curricula. The variety of inventors and inventions will be appreciated.
  • AR 6.9 Citizen Scientists. Loree Griffin Burns. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
    Great stories about young investigators and place-based science; inspirational.
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