Tuesday, December 13, 2022

RA RA Read: Read-Aloud Nonfiction

I've been working over the years to use more nonfiction in storytimes, as picture book selections, and just in general. Some years it goes by the wayside as I focus on other things, but I always return to it sooner or later.

Most of the nonfiction presented here focuses on science, nature, and animals. Historical and biographical picture books are a whole different genre, in my opinion, and I think they very rarely make good read-alouds, especially for preschoolers.

When using nonfiction in storytime, I use a very dialogic approach. Sometimes we read very little of the text itself, although I do appreciate books with a simple, bold narrative that one can focus on. We discuss the art, photographs, and concepts, talk about what we know and what we're learning, and enjoy investigating.

  • Jim Arnosky
    • A classic nature writer. Every Autumn Comes the Bear is a storytime favorite, but I've used many other titles - Bayou Babies, Racoons and Ripe Corn etc. to great effect.
  • Nic Bishop
    • He's not only a stunning nature photographer, he's quite a good writer too. His books are easily adapted to reading with small children.
  • Nicola Davies
    • A huge variety of books, focusing mainly on animals. Her "Flip the flap and find out" series is a mainstay of my outreach programs and we can spend an entire program just discussing the events in What Happens Next? I've also used Dolphin Baby. Her newer scientific books include Grow and Many.
  • Suzi Eszterhas
    • These simple stories feature one animal's life cycle from birth to adulthood. They are adorable and make excellent read-alouds. I especially love Brown Bear because...bears.
  • Candace Fleming
    • Giant Squid was wonderful and she has since done several more titles, Honeybee and Polar Bear.
  • Steve Jenkins 
    • This is one of the most prolific nonfiction authors for young children. I've used his books in flannelboard matching games like What do you do with a tail like this? and another favorite of mine is Down Down Down.
  • Kate Messner
  • April Pulley Sayre
    • A huge variety of books from animals to weather. I think Eat like a bear is my favorite, but my colleague likes to use her vegetable and fruit chant books, Rah Rah Radishes, Go Go Grapes, and Let's go nuts in her healthy eating programs.
  • Cathryn and John Sill
    • I've used their books in so many different ways. One of my favorites, About Forests, I made into an interactive flannelboard. They now have board books, which are excellent as well.
  • Melissa Stewart
  • Susan Stockdale
    • Her simple, rhyming stories work really well with toddlers as well as preschoolers. Her most recent title, Bird Show, is as popular as her previous books, most of which are available in Spanish and in board book format.
Individual titles
For newer titles, check out my recent reviews of nonfiction picture books.


Michael said...

Hi Jennifer

In 2011 you commented on an ALSC blog post debating whether to use themed storytimes. That is still available here:


In your comment you linked to a Web site for your Preschool Interactive storytimes which was here


But now this page can't be found. Is this material available anywhere now? Thank you.

Michael Manchester

Jennifer said...

Michael - I am no longer doing Preschool Interactive regularly, but most of the old programs are still out there! I migrated all my program materials to a blog