Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Nonfiction "Must Haves" from JoEllen McCarthy @imalwayslearnin

Thank you to Cathy Mere, Julie Balen and Mandy Robek for hosting this exciting event. 
Beware my list is more than 10.  It was fun putting together this list  #NF10for10.
I am excited to learn from others as I watch my own TBR list grow. Thanks to all for sharing.  Would love to hear your comments.

Gene Barretta

Gene Barretta offers simple picture books filled with great information and fun facts about  the infamous Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci and Benjamin Franklin.  My personal favorite is Neo  Leo because in this book it celebrates the "ageless ideas"- found in DaVinci's notebook.  Great mentor text to speak to the power of reflecting, note-making, and recording ideas.  Neo Leo gives us a glimpse into DaVinci's "thinking notebook" and how such a notebook allows for endless possibilities. Trailer for Neo Leo


Seymour Simon

 What list of NF picture books would be complete without mentioning the amazing work of mentor author, Seymour Simon?  His books are beautiful examples filled with craft lessons to inspire reading, writing and thinking about informational texts.  Seymour Simon has a great website and can  also be found on Twitter sharing kernels of wisdom to get students thinking. 
A few of our favorites are below:

Product Details

Can't wait for his newest title to be released in April:
Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans


Steve Jenkins

 Steve Jenkins inspires us to wonder and to ask questions about the world around us.  He inspires us to explore ideas and to want to learn more.

"Every book starts with an idea. Usually the idea is really a question..."



Looking forward to his newest title where he collaborates with Marty Crump:
          Coming Soon:

Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies's book have a way of informing  and entertaining the reader as she explores topics kids can't get enough of like-- the unmentionable poo or parasites such as head lice below: (Kids want to know more...)     http://www.nicola-davies.com/

Poo     What's eating you? Parasites: the inside story
You can hear Nicola speak about her love for animals and her inquisitive nature on her website:

More Mentor Authors

Marissa Moss is the author of many amazing biography picture books about influential women in history.  Some favorites include: Brave Harriet, Mighty Jackie and Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds: a Civil War Hero.  Her newest title is a NF picture book about Kenichi Zenimura a Japanese American who played with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and brought baseball to the internment camps: Barbed Wire Baseball.


Independent Dames
Laurie Halse Anderson has a favorite about powerful women in history.

Other  authors of nonfiction biographies I had to include in the #NF10 for10:

Kathllen Krull


Doreen Rappaport

Tanya Lee Stone

A Little Something Extra

What Color is My World by Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a  hybrid text with a parallel story, fun facts and additional "reports" included. This book explores African American Inventors. The additional inserts are an added bonus that serve as great examples of writing with voice.

Poetry and Informational Text

Finally this list would not be complete without mentioning the authors of poetry books that we often include in our  informational text sets:

Douglas Florian
Joyce Sidman
Bobbi Katz
Lee Bennet Hopkins
J. Patrick Lewis

Additional Resources

Check out: Ink Think Tank to connect with other nonfiction authors and for information about other "must have" titles...but beware your list will keep growing. 


  1. Thanks for these titles and links! I'm actually on the hunt for some new nonfiction books, so I'm adding every one of these to my list. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. honored your first post is to participate in our event! I have been wondering if you would ever blog, so glad you took the plunge and can't wait to read more of your thinking! Yahoo!

  3. Welcome to blogging! I love your list. Steve Jenkins is one of my favorite nonfiction author/illustrators. I have seen Gene Baretta's books in the library, but haven't had a chance to read any. I'll be sure to pick them up this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love that you're blogging! I will be adding this blog to Jr Librarian's list of blogs - he loves to see what books are being recommended by super readers like you. :) I'm trying to figure out how I missed Independent Dames up until this point - it looks incredible. :) The mention of Barbed Wire Baseball seems timely for today's post. (Executive order 9066 was signed on this date in 1942 sending over 100,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps.)

  5. Thanks for sharing this amazing resource JoEllen- loved checking out this rich list! You reminded about the awesome nonfiction picture books, which we cannot allow to get lost in this day and age of the Common Core! Thanks!

  6. Wow-great post. I added more titles, but really just added authors too. My list, & knowledge, is growing.

  7. JoEllen,
    I'm so excited about your post AND your new blog. I love when a new blog begins in the midst of an event. I look forward to following your blogging journey. I know you have much to share!

    This is a great list. I'm just finishing up the jog and have been to every post (I think). It's been interesting to see the emerging authors. I had to smile when I realized you had written your post around the mentors that shape our nonfiction discussion. Thanks for brining attention to their work.


  8. JoEllen, I began my blog last summer for the fiction version of this event and I haven't looked back!

    Many of the previous comments capture my thoughts...love Steve Jenkins' work and visit INK often. Gene Barretta is new to me, though. I really do want to order some of these authors' complete works.

    Thanks for sharing,