March 5, 2015

Subscribe to SLJ

Flashback: Historical Photos Transport Us to the Past | Nonfiction Booktalker


Studying a photograph of a long-ago event can be both transporting and educational, as the books in “Captured History,” a series about photography from Compass Point, show.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

What Lies Beneath: Weird and Unusual Marine Life | Nonfiction BookTalker

alien deep

Animals with transparent guts! Fish that make their own light! An underwater bird? Booktalk audiences hungry for adventure and monsters can find both in remarkable books on marine mysteries. While the following titles are aimed at fourth grade and above, even younger readers will find the pictures irresistible.

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Tough Cookies Who Changed the Course of History | Nonfiction Booktalker


Stories of strong, determined women who changed the course of history make amazing subjects for booktalks. Elizabeth Blackwell, Louisa May Alcott, and Clara Lemlich are just a few of the tough cookies with indomitable spirit who persevered in the face of adversity, achieved their goals, and became role models for others. They are featured in three recently released books that are perfect for booktalking.

Flight for Freedom: True stories of courageous individuals who escaped from slavery | Nonfiction Booktalker


This year marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation—and these recently published books highlight the remarkable true stories of courageous Americans during this period of history.

The Bear Facts: Books About Cuddly Creatures | Nonfiction Booktalker


Books about bears and pandas are super-popular with K–4 kids and a great way to encourage them to read.

Books That Explore Our (Very Distant) Past: Ancient skulls and skeletons can tell us about ourselves | Nonfiction Booktalker

Skull Rock National Geographic

The authors of the following books for fifth to eighth graders have gone way back in time—writing about intriguing research that has uncovered ancient bones, skulls, and complete skeletons.

Getting High: These incredible stories will catapult kids to surprising new heights | Nonfiction Booktalker

I’m not interested in extinct birds. Or Mars rovers. I’m marginally intrigued by Mohawk ironworkers. But give me a really good book on those topics, and I’m hooked.

Phillip Hoose can get me engrossed in anything, even Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 (Farrar, 2012). B95, a four-ounce red knot shorebird, was captured and tagged in 1995, and that tag became his name. Athletes would be awed by his stamina; every year B95 flies from […]

The Secret Lives of Presidents: A behind-the-scenes look at the residents of the White House

Picture book cover: Presidents' mothers

Every U.S. president had a mother. Most of them had children and pets. Combine these obvious, but often-unconsidered facts with a touch of humor and they spell can’t-miss booktalks.

American Heroes: Four Books Highlight the Fight Against Racism | Nonfiction Booktalker

It doesn’t matter to students whether superheroes are real or fictional. It’s all the same battle as long as they fight injustice. These four books bring the struggle against prejudice and inequality blazingly alive.

Rick Bowers’s Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate (National Geographic, 2012) offers a fresh angle in the fight for freedom. After World War II, the Last Son of Krypton quickly took […]

To the Rescue!: These incredible new tales can inspire your students to fight injustice

Michael Tunnell’s latest book did something amazing to my brain. Now I can’t hear the word “candy” without thinking of the word “hero.” This is a delectable combination that I’m certain my booktalk audiences make daily, but I’m also certain they haven’t heard the amazing story found in Tunnell’s Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Aircraft’s Chocolate Pilot (Charlesbridge, 2011).

In 1948, after World War II, Berlin, except for narrow air corridors, was cut off from the […]

Death and Destruction’s Lure: Catastrophes Equal Riveting Booktalks

Young learners know from watching television and listening to grown-ups that disasters can strike anywhere. Show your booktalk listeners a map of North America and point to Canada’s eastern coast, where disaster struck not once, but twice!

Nova Scotia’s largest city, Halifax, has a superb harbor and a history of horror. The cold waves have sent dead bodies to shore several times in the town’s lifetime. Hundreds washed up in its port when the Titanic sank in 1912. […]

Seriously Scary Stuff | Nonfiction Booktalker

Nothing appeals to young readers like fear, horror, and gore

When the young man who is my new neighbor dropped in to use the phone, there, perched upon on my footstool, was Joshua Gee’s Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying TRUTH! about Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters, and More (Scholastic, 2007). The book has a compelling cover and lots of illustrations, including “actual” photos of ghosts, photos of the giant squid which may have been the basis of the legend of the kraken (a horrible, […]