Choosing the right books to support your teaching can make all the difference in the world. The following list is a book of suggestions when it comes to teaching text structure. Here are some tips when it comes to selecting books/texts to teach text structure:
Tip #1: Choose books that you can also use to teach writing. Teaching students how to find the text structure in reading is also a skill that transfers over to writing. When writing an informational text/essay/report, we determine how we will organize our information as writers. Have this discussion with your students through the lens of writing. When we try to determine the text structure, we are analyzing how the author “built” the text.
When it comes to teaching writing, we can also use text structure to decide how to organize our writing. If you use writing prompts in your writing workshop, you might have prompts that require students to compare and contrast or explain the causes/effects. These are the perfect opportunity to make the connection between reading and writing.
Tip #2: Choose books that can be used for other nonfiction skills. Know the future skills you will be teaching and how these texts might support those books. For example, you might use some of these same books to teach the main idea or text features. When you teach one skill with the book, students will already be familiar with the text when you revisit the book for a different skill.
Tip #3: Choose high-interest topics. Select books about topics you know your students are already interested in when possible. Select books that are interesting to you too! This will increase student engagement as well as student learning.
Tip #4: Use your science/social studies textbook. Different types of text structure are everywhere in science and social studies!
Below are some of my favorite books and suggestions when it comes to teaching text structure organized by the text structure type:
Compare and Contrast
1. Crocodiles & Alligators by Seymour Simon
Crocodiles and alligators may seem ferocious and scary, but renowned science author Seymour Simon confirms that they’re also endlessly fascinating. Around since the time of dinosaurs, crocodiles and alligators eat without chewing, have three eyelids, and provide good living conditions for other animals.
Simon explores the wonders of these stealthy giants in an exciting up-close and personal way.
With clear, simple text and stunning full-color photographs, readers will learn all about these unique animals in this informative picture book.
Perfect for young scientists’ school reports, this book supports the Common Core State Standards.
Crocodiles & Alligators by Seymour Simon
2. Alligators & Crocodiles by Laura Marsh
A pair of eyes lurks just above the water’s surface. Is it a crocodile or an alligator? Packed with beautiful and engaging photos, kids will learn all about these two reptiles―and find out what makes them different. This level 2 reader provides both accessible and wide-ranging text to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow!
Alligators & Crocodiles by Laura Marsh
3. Dolphins by Seymour Simon
Friendly and fascinating, dolphins are one of nature’s most intelligent animals. They live in families called pods and can make a series of 2,000 high-pitched clicks to locate fish in the water. Despite their beauty and playfulness, dolphins face serious dangers from commercial fishing and human activity. It’s vital that people support governmental laws to protect these wonderful creatures. Award-winning science writer Seymour Simon gives you an expert view of these clever, curious, and mischievous mammals in a full-color photographic introduction. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 6 to 8. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.
Seymour Simon knows how to explain science to kids and make it fun. He was a teacher for more than twenty years, has written more than 250 books, and has won multiple awards.
This book includes an author’s note, glossary, and index and supports the Common Core Learning Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) standards.
Dolphins by Seymour Simon (pg. 9 – differences between Dolphins& Porpoises)
4. Aaron & Alexander by Don Brown
The most famous duel in American history dramatized by leading nonfiction picture book illustrator, Don Brown.
Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were both fierce patriots during the Revolutionary War, but the politics of the young United States of America put them in constant conflict. Their extraordinary story of bitter fighting and resentment culminates in their famous duel. For young patriots who may not yet know the shocking and tragic story, Aaron and Alexander captures the spirit of these two great men who so valiantly served their country and ultimately allowed their pride and ego to cause their demise.
Aaron & Alexander by Don Brown
5. Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis
Everybody knows that penguins live at the South Pole and polar bears live at the North Pole—but what would happen if, one day, a family of picnicking penguins accidentally got lost? When the hapless Pilchard-Brown family find themselves at the wrong pole, they need Mr. White, a friendly polar bear, to guide them all the way home.
Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis
6. Lincoln & Kennedy by Gene Barretta
President Abraham Lincoln grew up in a one-room log cabin. President John F. Kennedy was raised in the lap of luxury. One was a Republican and one a Democrat. They lived and served a hundred years apart.
Yet they had a number of things in common. Some were coincidental: having seven letters in their last names. Some were monumental: Lincoln’s support for the abolitionist movement and Kennedy’s support for the civil rights movement. They both lost a son while in office. And, of course, both were assassinated.
In this illuminating book, Gene Barretta offers an insightful portrait of two of our country’s most famous presidents.
Lincoln & Kennedy by Gene Barretta
7. Teeth by Sneed B. Collard III
What do you know about teeth?
Animals use their teeth in many ways for many reasons. Grind. Mash. Munch. Simple text introduces various types of teeth, while detailed explanations regarding specific animals offer further information about teeth function, structure, and number. Vivid, accurate illustrations put teeth in context, from the great white shark with its rows of sharp teeth to the Cuban crocodile with its replacement teeth to the cutthroat trout with its tongue teeth.
Teeth are amazing. They help animals survive in many ways. Young wildlife lovers will love learning all about these animals and their amazing teeth.
Teeth by Sneed B. Collard III
8. What’s the Difference Between a Turtle and a Tortoise? by Trisha Speed Shaskan
One animal has a lightweight shell. The other animal’s shell is heavy. Do you know the differences between a turtle and a tortoise?
What’s the Difference Between a Turtle and a Tortoise? by Trisha Speed Shaskan
9. Now and Ben by Gene Barretta
The inventions and inspiration of Benjamin Franklin and how they’ve stood the test of time
What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Benjamin Franklin, you’d set up these organizations yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod, suggested the idea of daylight savings time, and invented bifocals-all inspired by his common sense and intelligence. In this informative book, Gene Barretta brings Benjamin Franklin’s genius to life, deepening our appreciation for one of the most influential figures in American history.
Now and Ben by Gene Barretta
10. The Life Cycle of an Emperor Penguin by Bobbie Kalman
This title is intended for ages 6-12. Children will be fascinated by the journey taken by Emperor penguins to their annual breeding grounds and by the difficulties presented by having their young in the harshest conditions on the planet.
The Life Cycle of an Emperor Penguin by Bobbie Kalman
11. Crocodiles & Alligators by Seymour Simon
In this completely updated edition of Big Cats, award-winning writer Seymour Simon celebrates the grace and power of lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, pumas, and snow leopards. Readers will learn all about how they hunt, care for their young, and rest in their varied natural habitats.
This nonfiction picture book is packed with information and beautiful color photographs. Cat fans and kids ages 6 to 10 looking for facts, whether for a report or just for fun, will find much to like in Big Cats.
Big Cats by Seymour Simon (Cheetah section on how the cheetah hunts its prey)
12. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy
Gum. It’s been around for centuries—from the ancient Greeks to the American Indians, everyone’s chewed it. But the best kind of gum—bubble gum!—wasn’t invented until 1928, when an enterprising young accountant at Fleer Gum and Candy used his spare time to experiment with different recipes. Bubble-blowing kids everywhere will be delighted with Megan McCarthy’s entertaining pictures and engaging fun facts as they learn the history behind the pink perfection of Dubble Bubble.
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy
13. A Raindrop’s Journey by Suzanne Buckingham Slade
Where did that raindrop come from? And where is it going next? A raindrop’s journey is filled with thrills, spills, and chills. Pack your bags, and get ready to follow it!
A Raindrop’s Journey by Suzanne Buckingham Slade
14. Spiders’ Secrets by DK Kids
Young readers with a love of science will enjoy this book about spiders! Learn about creepy spiders and hairy tarantulas. With an advanced sentence structure, full-color photographs, lively illustrations, and a full glossary, this is the perfect book to help children gain confidence in reading on their own. Ideal for children who are fascinated by insects!
Stunning photographs combine with lively illustrations and engaging, age-appropriate stories in DK Readers, a multilevel reading program guaranteed to capture children’s interest while developing their reading skills and general knowledge.
With DK Readers, children will learn to read—then read to learn!
Spiders’ Secrets by DK Kids
15. Snakes! by Melissa Stewart
They’re SSSSLITHERY! SLIPPERY! They creep us out! But get to know them and you’ll find snakes private, quiet types who just want a cool, shady place to call home. From the tip of their forked tongues, to skin that sheds, to the rattles on certain tails, these creatures have secrets all kids will love. Cool photos and fun facts slip us inside their surprising world.
National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Snakes! by Melissa Stewart
16. Mars by Seymour Simon
Award-winning science writer Seymour Simon explores the Red Planet through fascinating facts and amazing full-color photographs. Readers will learn about the recent discovery of water, the Valles Marineris—the biggest valley on Mars—the ice caps, recent expeditions, and more. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 6 to 8. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.
Mars by Seymour Simon
17. Hurricanes! by Gail Gibbons
What in the world is a hurricane? In this age of extreme weather, this newly updated edition of Gail Gibbons’ informative introduction to hurricanes, with safety tips included, answers that question.
Imagine a force that can toss boats around like toys, wash away bridges, create waves as high as eighteen feet, and change the shape of a shoreline. With fierce winds and torrential rains, hurricanes can do all of these things.
In this newly revised edition, vetted by weather experts, Gail Gibbons introduces readers to the concepts of hurricane formation, classification, weather preparedness, and the ever-evolving technology that helps us try to predict the behavior of these powerful storms.
Extensive updates include refined definitions for hurricane-related vocabulary, updated information about the wind speeds that define hurricane categories, information on emergency preparedness, and more. As these weather disturbances become more frequent and more powerful, Hurricanes is the perfect introduction for children to this important and timely topic.
With her signature clear, colorful paintings and well-labeled diagrams, Gail Gibbons’ nonfiction titles have been called “”staples of any collection” (Kirkus Reviews) and offer clear, accessible introductions to complex topics for young readers beginning to explore the world.
Hurricanes! by Gail Gibbons
18. Take Off! All About Airplanes by Jennifer Prior
“Airplanes: they soar through the sky with a mighty, thunderous sound as passenger’s peer down at the puffy clouds and the towns below. What fascinating structures airplanes can be – especially for young children just beginning to learn about them!
Take Off! All About Airplanes is the perfect airplane book for your grade schooler who already has a budding fascination for the field of aviation and wants to learn more. This short, easy read is filled with not just information text, but also vibrant visuals, an interesting timeline, and intriguing facts! Your student will learn about the Wright Brothers, the history of aviation, how air travel has changed the way people work and live, and the important parts that make the plane fly. How exciting!
Many owners of these aviation books have even said their student or child loves to read the book again and again – getting through the book quickly the first time, then going back to study the images and memorize the facts inside. If your child is a budding aviation enthusiast, this could be the perfect learning opportunity that doesn’t even feel like learning! It’s all fun.
Give your student the chance to engrain themselves in a subject area that fascinates them, entertains them, and teaches them something important – all about airplanes!
Take Off! All About Airplanes by Jennifer Prior
19. So You Want to be President by Judith St. George
This new version of the Caldecott-winning classic by illustrator David Small and author Judith St. George is updated with current facts and new illustrations to include our forty-second president, George W. Bush. There are now three Georges in the catalog of presidential names, a Bush alongside the presidential family tree, and a new face on the endpaper portraiture.
Hilariously illustrated by Small, this celebration by St. George shows us the foibles, quirks and humanity of forty-two men who have risen to one of the most powerful positions in the world. Perfect for this election year–and every year!
So You Want to be President by Judith St. George
20. Crocodiles & Alligators by Seymour Simon
Take a tour of America’s great outdoors and discover the beauty and diversity of its most iconic and majestic national parks.
*A 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K–12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council)*
Packed with maps and fascinating facts about the flora and fauna unique to each of the 21 parks portrayed, this lushly illustrated coast-to-coast journey documents in large format the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places—and shows why they should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Explore Florida’s river-laced Everglades, travel down the white water rapids of the Grand Canyon, trek across the deserts of Death Valley, and scale the soaring summits of the Rocky Mountains with this book that brings you up close to nature’s greatest adventures.
Divided by region (East, Central, Rocky Mountains, West, Tropics, and Alaska), a pictographic map at the start of each section shows the locations of the parks to be covered. Each park is introduced by a stunning, poster-worthy illustration of one of its scenes and a summary of its makeup, followed by individual illustrations of the animals and plants that make their homes there.
Captions provide captivating information about the wildlife. Did you know that Everglades National Park is home to marsh rabbits who paddle through its swamps searching for herbs, flowers, and other plants to nibble on? Or that the pronghorn antelope of Badlands National Park are the continent’s fastest land animals, sprinting up to 60 miles per hour to escape predators like bobcats and coyotes?
A “Can you spot this…?” page at the back challenges you to find a pictured critter or plant for every letter of the alphabet.
The parks include: Acadia, Badlands, Big Bend, Biscayne, Bryce Canyon, Channel Islands, Death Valley, Denali, Everglades, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Hawaii volcanoes, Isle Royale, Mesa Verde, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Virgin Islands, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.
A book to be treasured by children and adults alike, National Parks of the USA serves to inspire the adventuring naturalist in all of us.
Brimming with facts, activities, and beautiful illustrations, the National Parks of the USA series of books immerses young people in the wonders of America’s outdoors. Learn about the wonderful wildlife, stunning scenery, and rare plants that inhabit these precious outdoor spaces. Celebrate these beautiful and rare locations, and be awed by the diversity and grandeur of the national parks’ living landscapes.
National Parks of the U.S.A. by Kate Siber
21. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak Ph.D.
Did you know you can stretch and grow your own brain? Or that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain learns? Awarded as one of the best growth mindset books for kids, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It teaches all the ways that the brain can develop with exercise, just like the rest of our bodies.
Educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak offers a fun and engaging introduction to the anatomy and functions of the brain that will empower each young reader to S-T-R-E-T-C-H and grow their fantastic, elastic brain!
Looking for award-winning picture books for curious kids? Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is the perfect fit. Dr. Deak shares information in ways that are accessible for parents, teachers, and children alike. Delightful illustrations with accurate details foster motivation to learn and grow in new ways. This book is an excellent companion to Beautiful Oops, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, I Can’t Do That YET, The Most Magnificent Thing, and Bubble Gum Brain.
Awards for Your Fantastic Elastic Brain:
- The Mom’s Choice Gold Award
- The Moonbeam Gold Award for Non-Fiction Picture Book
- The Pewter Gold Ink Award for Distinguished Printing
- The Parent’s Choice Silver Award for Interior Design, Children’s/Young Adult
- The Nautilus Silver Award for Children’s Non-Fiction
- The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Winner for Interior Design, Children’s/Young Adult
- Next Generation Indie Award Finalist for Children’s/Juvenile Nonfiction
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak Ph.D.
Cause & Effect
22. The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
Little brown bats do us a big favor. They eat huge numbers of insects! That helps limit the spread of diseases and the damage that insects do to farm crops. But in recent years, large populations of little brown bats have been dying off each winter. Is a virus killing them? Could climate change or pesticides be the cause? Or is it something else? Follow a team of dedicated scientists working to save the little brown bats in this real-life science mystery.
The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
23. Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis Mcdonogh
Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis Mcdonogh
24. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow’s tribute to the famous revolutionary hero begins with the stirring cadence that American schoolchildren have committed to memory for over a century. Now illustrator Ted Rand brings these vivid and beautiful lines to life as dramatically as the poet’s immortal message inspires.”The clatter of hooves seems to echo in Rand’s evocative paintings of that famed midnight ride….” —Kirkus reviews
Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
25. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
26. What If You Had an Animal Tail? by Sandra Markle
If you could have any animal’s tail, whose would you choose?
What if you woke up one morning and you had sprouted a tail overnight? What If You Had An Animal Tail? — the next imaginative book in the What If You Had series — explores what would happen if you looked in the mirror and saw that you had an animal tail! From a peacock’s showstopping tail to a scorpion’s dangerous stinger, discover what it would be like if you had one of these special tails — and find out why your own tailbone is just the right one for you!
What If You Had an Animal Tail? by Sandra Markle
Problem & Solution
27. Florida Manatee by Louise and Richard Spilsbury
Florida Manatees are in danger of dying out. Read this book to learn what a baby manatee is called and what they eat. Discover why Florida manatees need our help and how you can help save these animals. Age-appropriate text introduces new concepts gradually for young children. This book features fantastic photographs, explanatory diagrams, a glossary, an index and information about more books to read.
Florida Manatee by Louise and Richard Spilsbury
28. Endangered Butterflies by Bobbie Kalman
Introduces the anatomy, behavior, and life cycle of butterflies, and discusses the reasons they are endangered and recent conservation efforts.
Endangered Butterflies by Bobbie Kalman
29. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy’s brilliant idea can light up the world. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and an epilogue that will bring readers up to date on William’s story, this is the perfect edition to read and share with the whole family.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
30. The Right Word by Jen Bryant
For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions — and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time.
The Right Word by Jen Bryant
31. 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
32. Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers
Follow that garbage truck—to the landfill to see how trash keeps piling up…to the incinerator to see how trash can be turned into energy…to the recycling center to see how a soda bottle can be turned into a flowerpot.
This picture book is filled with fun charts and diagrams to explain how we deal with the problem of too much trash. Activities throughout the book empower kids to help the environment, whether it’s by separating trash from recycling or using a lunch box instead of a paper bag.
This is a clear and appealing science book for early elementary age kids, both at home and in the classroom. Both text and artwork were vetted for accuracy by Robin Woods, formerly of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. William Rathje, founder of the Garbage Project and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, and Thomas Frankiewicz.
Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers
If you need more support teaching text structure, check out the mini unit here:
Text Structure (Reading Mini Unit) 4th & 5th Grade