You know what I love? A chance to get nerdy about science and writing! So this month’s list of fun-gal books provided lots of fun for this gal. In addition to surprising facts—Did you know fungal spores can sometimes seed rain?—I found at least ten different ways to categorize these books. How many can you come up with? For this post I’ll share just one so I don’t steal all the fun 🙂
Today we are going to have a blast, do something dynamite, experience the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Today we are going to analyze books based on the Common Core-English Language Arts.
Wait. Why aren’t you jumping with joy? How come I don’t hear any gleeful giggles?
Maybe—whether you are a kid gritting your teeth through class, a teacher grinding through lesson prep, or an adult writer grasping to “get” this industry—just maybe you need practice romping in the joy of discovery.
Let me show you how it’s done.
Dip into the ELA standards and you’ll see three types of writing described:
- informative/explanatory texts,
- opinion pieces,
- narrative writing (true or imagined stories).
Joy, oh, joy right? Okay, maybe not. That info is sitting there is like a lousy lump. A bunch of blah, blah, blah. We all know that science books are informative. They are explanatory texts. Duh.
But what if I found something a little suspicious in our fungal stack? Would you zoom in closer with me? Would you be willing to search out some odd evidence?
If you were on a hunt for a piece of narrative writing, what would you look for? A character. Action. Some voicy voice? Pick up a copy of Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices and you could say: check, check, check!
If we want to get academic, plop the book down beside the ELA Standards for writing, 4th grade. According to the Core, narrative should:
- orient the reader by establishing a situation. The opening page of Rotten Pumpkin does this loud and clear: “Here I stand, bright with light, proud and round. Tonight is my glory night.”
- introduce a narrator. Jack the smiling pumpkin draws readers in.
- use sensory words to convey experiences. “My vomit dissolves pumpkin nutrients so I can lap them up. A delicious, nutritious smoothie!” Whoever said analyzing books had to be boring!?!
I could go on about how this could be lumped in with narrative books, but I’ll leave the rest to you. Go ahead, I’ll make it super easy and put the link to the standards right here and the link to an online preview of the book right here. Now, you go find more evidence.
And then there’s opinion writing, something you might not expect to get a whiff of on a serious, science blog post, but COME ON! Opinions spice things up! Consider why The Mushroom Fan Club, by Elise Gravel, is just such a hoot. Hint: It’s not because she’s all straight-laced and impartial. Nope.
She even admits to being obsessed. And just what, pray, is she trying to prove? The first spread: “It’s like a treasure hunt” and the last: “So, did you enjoy our TREASURE HUNT?” kind of give it away.
For practice, pair up Gravel’s text with the 4th grade standards to find examples of
- “create an organized structure”
- “provide reasons that are supported by facts”
- “link opinion and reasons”
Lookie, lookie at what you’ve done. Found a little fun matching this mushroomy stack with the Common Core’s three categories of writing. I knew you could do it! Now, I wonder what you would find if you looked at Melissa Stewart’s 5 Kinds of Nonfiction instead…
Heather L. Montgomery loves taking a closer look at fungi (and slugs and bugs and poop and anything else in nature). Then she writes (narrative or opinion or explanatory books about that supercalifragilisticexpialidocious stuff. Books like: Who Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other, Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill, and What’s in Your Pocket? Collecting Nature’s Treasures. Learn more at www.HeatherLMontgomery.com.