Monday, June 18, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Life in a Pond by Craig Hammersmith

I try to include at least one nonfiction title in all of my Preschool Interactive programs. I also provide materials for our baby and toddler programs and try to put together a mix of fiction and nonfiction for those as well.

It's HARD. It's very difficult to find books that are well-written, age-appropriate, and have engaging art or photographs. It's especially hard to find titles that are short enough to read to a toddler or preschool audience without having to resort to bland easy readers. Every year I find a number of gems by excellent authors like April Pulley Sayre, Catherine Sill, or Roxie Munro. I also watch publishers like Peachtree and Boyds Mills Press. But even so I find myself coming up short and having to fall back on the mass-produced, straight to curriculum standards nonfiction publishers like Scholastic and Capstone.

This particular example, Life in a Pond, is part of the Pebble Plus imprint, so it has a few more words than the Pebble line, which offers outrageously priced library-bound books with a sentence or two per page. Each page has three or four short sentences on the left and a full page photograph on the right. The text is intended for beginning readers and of course conforms to all the lexile and other school standards needed. An example: "Ponds are often home to turtles. Turtles spend time swimming in the water. But they also rest in sunny places to warm up."

Not particularly inspired, but it gets the information out there and the photographs are detailed and expressive. While these are really directed at easy readers, I've been able to satisfy my beginning readers' thirst for nonfiction with National Geographic and Dorling Kindersley titles. However, Pebble titles are available in paperback and until publishers start turning out a bigger volume of read-aloud nonfiction I'll have to make do.

Verdict: These titles would be in high demand in a school library and I find them useful to fill the gaps for read-aloud nonfiction in storytime, but I still wish there was more nonfiction intended to be read aloud, like Cathryn Sill's About series or Kathryn Galbraith's Planting the Wild Garden.

ISBN: 9781429668163; Published 2012 by Capstone; Borrowed from the library


Roberta said...


I agree it is too bad that somehow nonfiction has been relegated to controlled vocabulary and blandness.

I keep think of all the great folktales that make memorable stories around nature and natural events.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday. I agree; as an author, the guidelines and vocabulary are quite firm.

Sue Heavenrich said...

Frustrating... I agree. So I guess we all gotta write some of these kinds of books, right?