Friday, March 20, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 15: Author Keila V. Dawson Goes Beyond the Book

By Keila V. Dawson

Informational books are fiction but also include scientific, historical, or cultural facts. They can be funny, witty, zany, and have heart. They cover topics and provide information. These five titles are examples of how to extend a reader's interest in a topic beyond the book. 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble
Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator), is a book about food, but Maillaird ads layers that make it more than about baking. He captures the importance of passing along family history and traditions from generation to generation.  Readers gain knowledge about the history and politics that have affected Native American nations for generations.

Moon's First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship by Susanna Hill, and Elisa Paganelli (Illustrator) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing in this sweet story about the moon who wants friends. She watches as changes on the earth bring her closer to her wish - visitors.

Give Me Back My Bones by Kim Norman, Bob Kolar (illustrated) has rollicking rhyme teaching kids all about bones using a dead pirate whose bones have been scattered and are put back together. A rollicking read aloud.








The Very Impatient Caterpillar written and illustrated by Ross Burach is another laugh out loud story about patience told through the life cycle of an impatient caterpillar. Through the voice of the exuberant caterpillar readers learn about metamorphosis.








Love, Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus by Irene Latham and Thea Baker (Illustrator) is an endearing story about an octopus who finds a postcard underwater that uses the word monster that she believes is addressing her. This sets off a series of correspondences that tell the true story of the life cycle of an octopus. Besides teaching interesting facts about sea creatures, it also shows readers the importance of empathy and understanding. The author includes back matter for additional reading about octopuses.



Have you found examples go beyond the book? If so, how?


Keila is giving away a copy of KING CAKE BABY to one lucky winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 2, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

Before becoming a children’s book author, Keila Dawson worked as a teacher, school administrator, and educational consultant in the U.S., the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. A native of New Orleans, her debut picture book THE KINGCAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing Co. 2015), celebrates one of the unique cultural traditions in her hometown - eating King Cake during the Mardi Gras season. Her second book, NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, co-edited with Jeanette Bradley and Lindsay H. Metcalf (Charlesbridge) will release in September 2020. A third nonfiction book is under contract has not been announced yet.

Keila is a member of SCBWI, writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) blog, and reviews books for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When Keila isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives.

100 comments:

  1. In these informational books, the authors do such a great job presenting facts while entertaining. I learned some names for bones I didn’t know before in Give Me Back My Bones. Thanks for this list of mentor texts.

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  2. These books are so wonderful! Each offers a fresh approach. Love, Agnes is a favorite and has already served as a mentor text for something I'm working on.Thanks!

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  3. I read this stack to my seven-year-old this morning. I asked her if she thought Moon's First Friends is fiction or nonfiction. She guessed it was "fiction-non-fiction." I think that's pretty close to informational fiction! I loved the back matter in this one as well as Fry Bread and Love, Agnes. I would have enjoyed some in the very funny, The Very Impatient Caterpillar as well!

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  4. Thank you for these great examples of informational fiction, Keila. Each author's approach is amazing!

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  5. Great list. I can’t wait to start reading. Thanks so much.

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  6. What an intriguing selection of informational books you've presented, Keila. I want to read each of them as soon as my library reopens.

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  7. Thanks for sharing so many different styles and formats, Kelia. I want to read all of them.

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  8. Awesome titles--thank you for the suggestions!

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  9. Informational fiction is my favorite! I hadn't seen any of these and fortunately, I got them before my library closed. Thank you!

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  10. Hey Keila! Great to read a post by you and I love the books you shared. When the libraries open back up here in Michigan, I'll be putting the ones I haven't read on hold.

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  11. Hi, Keila! I love informational books with a good story attached. Thanks for sharing your mentor text books today.

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  12. Wonderful post! I especially adore Love, Agnes.

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  13. Terrific post, thank you. Wonderful list of mentor texts. I really liked The Very Impatient Caterpillar. Congratulations on THE KINGCAKE BABY. I love the title. My son got the baby one year:)

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  14. Great post -- as someone who leans hard into fiction and tends to shun non-fiction - this is a nice way to help me take a step toward non-fiction.

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  15. Great books for helping kids learn while embracing different pov’s and strong character development. Also, your king cake book is so timely having recently experienced Marci gras. Thank you very much!

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  16. Keila!: What a GREAT post! THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to find ways to use informational texts to help our readers REACH and LEARN BEYOND the words we provide. I am ESPECIALLY IN LOVE with Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story; the artwork is SO ENDEARING!!! PS: I have noticed in a lot of the comments, that fellow REFOREMOers are struggling to get their hands on some of the books on our reading list, due to libraries and bookstores being closed. I suggest going on YouTube to hear the books read. I also Google the title and author's name, and read reviews by the pros (like Kirkus and The Horn Book) and on blogs. Then I scroll down on the Google search list for the Google version of the book; many times you can take a look inside the books this way, too. I than go to Amazon (where you can usually see inside the book as well) to read comments to see how everyday readers feel about the books. I HOPE THIS HELPS!!!

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  17. Thank you for this post. A few of my manuscripts are informational. I love THE VERY IMPATIENT CATERPILLAR!

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  18. Thanks, Keila, for the great list. Talk about comfort food for these times, FRY BREAD is comfort food for the reader/writer soul!

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  19. Love how learning seeps in through picture books!

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  20. I love how you show how each book listed above goes beyond just a story and includes deeper information in a variety of ways. Thank you!

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  21. Good choices - love the impatient caterpillar!

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  22. It is great to see the inventive ways authors include learning in their books. Thanks for pointing this out.

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  23. Fry Bread is a fabulous read. I look forward to reading the others when I can get out. Nonfiction and informational fiction are my jam! Thanks for sharing these examples with us.

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  24. Another great example- Ida, Always - a fictionalized story about a true tale. This one hit me hard because it was such a heart wrenching story based completely on fact! I love "beyond the book" texts- so much to feel an to learn and to discover! Thank you for sharing!

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  25. I love these books. They are a great way to go beyond the fiction to support facts.

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  26. Thank you, I just love to learn and these books look great!

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  27. Hi Keila, thank you for the selection of books to read. I’m very curious to kind of see how they approach the topics and how they extend the learning with back matter or side bars etc. Also very excited about your book No Voice Too Small!

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  28. Love Kim Norman's book. The others are new ones I look forward to reading.

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  29. I read all but the Bones book and enjoyed the subject matter and the way the story was approached.
    Thanks for gathering these titles for study.

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  30. Thanks for highlighting these wonderful books, Keila, and for all your do for ReFoReMo!

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  31. Thank you, Keila! I love informational fiction! Great examples!

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  32. Thank you for the variety of books to use as mentor texts.

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  33. I love this category, and truly enjoyed this list of books. The spread in THE VERY IMPATIENT CATERPILLAR with "What am I going to do in here for TWO WEEKS!" was a much needed humorous note at this time when we are all wondering what we are going to do!

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  34. Thank you for sharing mentor texts that show us how to add layers beyond the book's topic.

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  35. Thank you for these great books. "Fry Bread" has so much heart. The others have something special too...

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  36. What a fun read, Give Me Back My Bones! Thank you for your selections :)

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  37. Thank you for this list. I cannot wait to be able to get hold of Love, Agnes ... this group of texts has caused me to rethink one of my stories.

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  38. I have the Very Impatient Caterpillar checked out now and it's LOL fun and spot on young child voice of impatience. Now I need to think about a book idea using humor and a child's voice. Very clever.

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  39. Such a wonderful group of books that we can use as mentor texts. Thanks so much!

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  40. Great titles showing how to extend a reader's interest in a topic beyond the book. I laughed all the way through The Very Impatient Caterpillar. Thank you Keila for your post :)

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  41. Thanks for these suggestions, Keila--Give Me Back My Bones and Love, Agnes are so clever!

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  42. Love, Agnes is a great example of what you are referring to. It is informational but yet draws you in to the story as you connect with Agnes. I just read Waiting For Elijah, another book that combines a wonderful story and information.

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  43. What cleverly written books! These would all be a boon to teachers in so many ways. So much information is given in ways certain to keep the attention of young ones. Thanks for a great list!

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  44. Thanks for this post. I always appreciate books that do double duty by entertaining and educating.

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  45. I had the chance to read all of these. They are all great examples and fun books to read. Definitely something to strive for when writing a story.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  46. Great recommendations. I love everything by Susanna Hill!

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  47. These books are phenomenal! GIVE ME BACK MY BONES is a personal favorite. Thank you!

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  48. I loved all these books! Loved that they were fiction but with science and other facts in it. I thought Love, Agnes book was a little sad.

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  49. These books sound so interesting. Thanks!

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  50. Thank you for these! Really enjoyed seeing how the different authors brought in factual information without making it pedantic.

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  51. Thank you, Keila, for this post on informational fiction picture books and for your other excellent posts on the blog.
    I like to write this type of picture book and these are good books to study.
    Thank you, Natalie, for your tips on ways to find the books on-line. I have had to do that recently since our libraries are closed. But I am thankful that I was able to checkout a few of the books in time.
    GIVE ME BACK MY BONES is very engaging!

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  52. Your examples offer a great range of styles and topics. Thanks for your post!

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  53. Great selection of books. Hard to choose a favourite. My husband loves The Very Impatient Caterpillar. I really enjoyed Love, Agnes & Give Me Back My Bones. Here's a wonderful analysis of the poetry in Bones by Renee La Tulippe in Lyric Language Lab - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDFU5-BVNsk

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  54. Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward is another informational book that I feel goes beyond the book by sparking an interest in nature and in poetry.

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  55. I loved all these books! Thanks for this great post.

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  56. I enjoyed learning about the genre 'informational fiction', so beautifully exemplified in THE IMPATIENT CATERPILLAR. Much more fun, and memorable,than learning metamorphosis the way I did as a fifth grader made to diagram and memorize the stages of a frog's development, copying from a science book!

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  57. Thank you for your list. I feel inspired to write informational fiction. It looks like a good way to interest kids and teach them at the same time.

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  58. I've read (and LOVE) all of these except Love, Agnes. How have I missed this one? Thanks for the thoughtful post on including layers in a story, Keila. Hope you are yours are well!

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  59. Thanks for reminding us that informational can be fun.

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  60. Thanks for the terrific recommendations! I was lucky enough to get most of these before the library closed. Really enjoy how the information extra layers of interest to these stories!

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  61. I enjoyed this selection more than I thought I would! Mixing it up was fun!

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  62. Keila,
    I loved Frybread and look forward to reading these other titles.

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  63. Thank you for sharing these informational books. I look forward to reading them.

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  64. Thank you for sharing the informational fiction stories. I enjoyed reading Kim Norman and Bob Kolar's lively illustrated rhyming story of bones. I can relate to The Very Impatient Caterpillar's desire to complete a task. Looking forward to reading Fry Bread.

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  65. Thank you for sharing this great list. I have read several of them and look forward to reading the rest. I just discovered Fry Bread and love the illustrations .

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  66. Beginning, middle, an ending plus back Matter all good reads and examples. Thank you.

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  67. Love Agnes & Give Me Back My Bones were my favorites

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  68. Thanks for the excellent examples of fun and entertaining informational picture books, Keila. I especially love The Very Impatient Caterpillar...such a laugh-out-loud way to learn facts! [Posted by LouAnn Silva]

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  69. Thanks, Keila for this fun list of informational fiction. I always love books that mix humor with facts, so I especially love The Very Impatient Caterpillar. And the rhythm for Give Me Back My Bones is perfect for read-alouds.
    And thank you Natalie Lynn Tanner for your tips on finding our ReFoReMo books to study online. I had been staying more than a week ahead of the reading list, and luckily grabbed my last batch of 20 books on hold the day before our library closed. So next week will involve lots of virtual reading.

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  70. I love informational fiction and this is a super list. Thank you, Katie!

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  71. Thanks, Keila! I requested "Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story" from my library, but I'll have to wait until they reopen. Stay safe.

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  72. This is a great way to write about these topics! I never thought to write them this way. Thanks for the ideas and the examples.

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  73. As always, you have found some great mentor texts for us, Keila. It's that extra set of layers, as in FRY BREAD that make a book work. I need LOVE, AGNES right now as a mentor text. TY.

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  74. Great selection of books, Keila! Thank you for showing us all the different kinds of nonfiction!

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  75. Your mentor books are so much fun! I love all of them, but Fry Bread and Give Me Back My Bones are two of my favorites. Thanks for sharing!

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  76. Great group of mentor books Keila! It is so fun to see the explosion of entertaining and exciting informational fiction.

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  77. Great post, Keila! Thank you for these mentor texts dealing with informational fiction. I love both "Fry Bread" and "Moons First Friend" and they are sitting on my bookshelves as I type this. I can’t wait to read the others when my local library opens up again as I'm sure "The Impatient Caterpillar" will be joining them before too long

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  78. When my children were picture book age, I loved books like these that offer so much more than a silly story. Thank you for these excellent examples!

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  79. These are some of my favorite types of picture books! Fry Break is especially a favorite of mine and a great mentor text.

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  80. Keila! So many outstanding titles that share knowledge in a variety of ways.

    Thank you.
    Suzy Leopold

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  81. My classes loved The Very Impatient Caterpillar. Thank you for your insight.

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  82. Great choice of books. Look forward to reading the ones I haven't read. Thanks.

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  83. Terrific mentor texts for informational books. I love your hometown and KING BABY CAKE! Thanks for sharing today.

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  84. Oh I LOVE this post!!!! It’s perfect for a wip im polishing. Thank you!!!

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  85. Such fun and fabulous choices. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  86. Hi Keila, thanks for bringing these books to my attention. I hope I'll be able to read LOVE AGNES soon.

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  87. So helpful for my current work in progress! Thank you, Keila!

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  88. What fun to combine information with a "rollicking good story". An art I will treasure reading! Thank you.

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  89. Thanks for the great examples!! Loved how each book married the informational text with the narrative text in different ways.

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  90. Thanks for your post, Keila! Some of these books are waiting for me at my closed library. I look forward to reading them.

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  91. What enjoyable ways to teach and have fun at the same time. Thanks.

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  92. Hi Keila! I LOVE informational fiction - both reading and writing it. Thank you for this list. I had only read The Very Impatient Caterpillar. The rest will have to wait until the libraries open back up. Thank you!

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  93. These are all terrific informational books, from poignant & sweet to downright hilarious! Information needn't be a dry list of how-tos and bland facts. Kudos to all the authors & illustrators in these selections!

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  94. LOVE the list! A great varied list of different tones and moods. This gives me several things to ponder as I try and incorporate more learning into my MS.

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  95. I love the variety of your selections! I have an informational fiction piece in my "drawer" that I'd love to work on again. These may give me some ideas!

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