Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Narrative/Hybrid Nonfiction

Thank you Jen and Kellee for hosting this weekly!  To see what others are reading and recommending, or to participate, be sure to check out their blog Teach Mentor Texts :)

We are currently in our Nonfiction Unit in reading workshop so a lot of my reading has been dedicated to nonfiction texts of all types, including narrative nonfiction.  I have been planning which narrative nonfiction texts to read aloud to my class this week (I have many favorites!) and I came across A Nations Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pena and Kadir Nelson. 
It is a beautifully written picture book biography that I immediately added to my pile of texts I am reading aloud this week.  This book tells the story of  the 1938 World Heavyweight Championship fight between American boxer Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling.  It captures a moment when Americans set aside their racial differences to unite against a common enemy at the beginning of World War II. This historic fight symbolized more than just the world heavyweight title, but also the country's war with Germany.  I know that this book will become a mentor text in our classroom for writing workshop as well as reading workshop because it is such a powerfully written text.  I can see using this as a mentor text for word choice, voice, and how to include backstory in writing pieces. I know I will also refer back to this text during our historical fiction unit in reading workshop and in our conversations about strong characters.  This text is not only beautifully written in verse, but also has gorgeous illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  His illustrations always bring the story to life for the reader.  

I also read Gentle Giant Octopus by Karen Wallace. This text tell the story of a gentle giant octopus while also weaving in information about octopuses through the story as well as in italicized words on the bottom of the pages.  It has an introduction about octopuses and an index in the back. This is not only a good example of narrative nonfiction, but also of hybrid nonfiction because it gives the reader information in both a narrative and expository structure.  This can also be a mentor text for students as they write their own informational texts and want to try out writing in a narrative way and using a "PBS" voice to teach their readers about their topic.  

Happy Reading! :)


  1. Matt De La Pena was the keynote speaker at a TC workshop last year, and he presented this book, which I snapped up. Great to use it as part of a nonfiction unit!

    1. Sad that I missed that TC workshop when he was a keynote! They always have great keynote speakers!

  2. I love it when non-fiction books can be informative and entertaining! Hooray for good narrative non-fiction!


  3. I'm always looking for good nonfiction options - thanks! Planning to read "The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure" this week. Will let you know how it is!

  4. Melanie, thanks for telling about these two great-looking books. I think we have the Joe Louis one in our school library & Kadir Nelson is always wonderful. The octopus one looks really good too.

  5. Hi there Melanie, I've seen the Joe Louis book around and I know I would have to find it soon. I am a huge fan of Kadir Nelson. Gentle Giant Octopus also looks positively charming - will look for these titles in our libraries.

  6. I was glad to see A NATION'S HOPE on your blog today. It's fabulous and beautiful.

    I include some extra information and videos that you might find interesting in a blog post last year: