It’s hard to believe but we are getting ready to close the book on 2015. So today is the last blog installment for 2015 TeachingAuthors, but we will be back after a short break. We will ring in the new year as we begin blogging again on January 4. So stay tuned. By then, we will all be back at work. And some of us (ahem, me) should also be back at the gym…
It seems fitting to end our blogging year with a series on great books. It may not come as a surprise that my favorite books are nonfiction. But this year I’ve read lots of nonfiction picture books. I’ve found many that I’ve admired. The three I want to mention today are not new books. But they are books that I’ve read over and over and admire the craft of good writing every time.
The first one I want to share is Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is the story of Sarah Hale (author of Mary Had a Little Lamb) and her 38 year campaign to get Thanksgiving declared a national holiday on one specific date. Finally Abraham Lincoln did so. The story of Sarah Hale is a great example of what one woman of grit and determination can do. That powerful story combined with Anderson’s brilliant storytelling ability makes this book informative, funny, and charming. Matt Faulkner’s illustrations fit the cheeky attitude of the text.
Next is Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. This true story tells of the amazing feats accomplished by Bass Reeves, a man born into slavery who became a deputy U.S. marshal in Indian Territory. Over three decades Reeves arrested more than 3000 outlaws. His little known story is one of a true hero of the Old West. This powerful story combined with Nelson’s choice of voice and storytelling style makes this book really special. From the first word to the last word the reader is drawn into the world of heroes and outlaws in the lawless Indian Territory. R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations add to the feel of the time and place.
Another of my favorites is Wisdom, The Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years by Darcy Pattison. This is a biography of completely different kind, not of a person but of one single albatross-named Wisdom-who just happens to be the oldest bird in the world. This story includes how scientists tracked Wisdom who against all odds-even survived the Japanese tsunami. Pattison’s storytelling ability gives readers a powerful glimpse into the world of blue sky and rolling sea as one amazing bird (still) continues to survive and hatch her babies. Kitty Harvill’s beautiful illustrations are a perfect compliment to the time and space of Wisdom’s world.
Oh, how I love a great true story!
On a different note, teachers may be interested to check out a National Handwriting Contest for students in K-8th grade. It seems like a great way to encourage students in this area. For more information about the details and how your students can participate: National Handwriting Contest
Carla Killough McClafferty