Short non Fiction Books for Kids

Books | Award-winning nonfiction books for young readers
Nonfiction Monday: Zig and Wikki in The Cow by Nadja Spiegelman


"The Elephant Scientist" tells of the discovery that elephants communicate with each other through low-frequency vibrations they sense in their feet.


"Balloons Over Broadway" combines a kid-friendly text with colorful, detailed illustrations to create a truly distinguished picture-book biography.

If you have a young reader who loves nonfiction, check out the 2012 winner of the Robert F. Sibert Medal, and the four 2012 Sibert Honor books.

There's something for every reader in this year's choices. Kids can meet the man responsible for the enormous balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, journey to Africa with a scientist studying elephant communication, travel back in time to the Salem witch trials, explore the human dynamics of the 1960s civil-rights battle in Birmingham, Ala., and peek into the memorable youth of artist/author Allen Say.

The Sibert Medal was established in 2001 to honor the most distinguished "informational, " or nonfiction, book published each year for children from birth through age 14.

The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and named for Robert Sibert, the longtime president of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., which specializes in pre-bound books for the library market.

Each year, a committee composed of librarians and other children's-book experts chooses the Sibert winner and any honor books. I served on the 2012 Sibert Medal panel, and I'm thrilled about our choices.

Here's a closer look at the winning books:

2012 Sibert Medal Winner:

In "Balloons Over Broadway" (Houghton Mifflin, $16.99, ages 4-8), author/illustrator Melissa Sweet combines a kid-friendly text with colorful, detailed illustrations to create a truly distinguished picture-book biography.

It tells the story of Tony Sarg, who decades ago created the forerunners of the gigantic character balloons that are the trademark of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Sweet focuses her story on Sarg's fascination for tinkering; she opens her book with the story of how the 6-year-old Sarg developed a rope-and-pulley system for feeding his family's chickens while staying snug in his bed.

The adult Sarg became famous for his marionettes, which caught the eye of Macy's executives looking for someone to devise a parade for Macy's employees. As the parade crowds increased each year, Sarg eventually developed the technology for the huge balloons that float overhead and allow all watchers to enjoy the spectacle.

Sweet's text is filled with evocative vocabulary, as she writes that the balloons "sailed past Central Park" and "sallied down Broadway." With her illustrations, done in gouache (thick watercolors), collage and mixed media, Sweet spotlights Sarg's passion for play; he once said: "I have never done a stroke of work in my life."

"Balloons Over Broadway" is definitely fun to read, but it's also a model nonfiction book for young readers. Sweet includes a bibliography, sources for her quotes, an author's note with more information about Sarg and a brief explanation about her artwork.

"Sweet's book rose above all others this year by brilliantly showing and telling the story of one person's ideas with passion and panache, demonstrating the very best of what an informational book can be, "said Sibert Medal Committee Chairman Andrew Medlar.

2012 Sibert Honor Books:

• In "Black & White" (Calkins Creek, $16.95, ages 12 up), author Larry Dane Brimner masterfully describes how the enmity between two influential men — one black and one white — exploded into a confrontation that changed the course of civil-rights history.


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Things I thought of

2012-01-18 11:48:32 by pbp

Spread the books out over the middle shelves. They will be easier to look though and new books can be interfiled as received.
I agree the top and bottom shelves are the low rent districts…people just don’t browses them. Use those for special items that people will seek out, not general.
Pull out the reference books. Sort by type and file on a low rent shelf.
See if we have enough non-fiction to pull out and treat like the reference books. We probably won’t have enough and in that case, these will get interfiled with the fiction.
For the bulk of the books, simply alphabetize by author and shelf

Chuck Palahnuik freak show, er, reading

2003-09-06 21:45:49 by LogInYourEye

At the Page St. Liberary Sat. in the basement.
I thought it would crowded, and I was right. About 130 people, most of them 20something brats, Limp Bizkit types. Pretentious Haight St. kiddies. Many brought "Fight Club" DVDs for him to sign. Long line beforehand, so I sat down.
Chuck read a short story rejected by "Playboy," 3 tales of guys doing strange things to jack off; one kid puts a stick of candle wax up his dick, another gets rimmed by a pool drain, JOing underwater, and ends up with a prolapsed intestine.
Lots of "Ew, gross!" and "That is disgusting" remarks from the hipster crowd

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