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Narrative Non-Fiction for 5th Graders
Narrative non-fiction is non-fiction ("not fake") writing that "reads like a story." In good narrative non-fiction, the facts are accurate, but the author uses many of the same "writing tricks" that fiction writers use. This is a way for the author to create an interesting book that "flows well" and tells one or more true stories. An example of a non-fiction series that is NOT narrative non-fiction is the DK Eyewitness series. The books in this series are eye catching and fascinating, but each is a random collection of facts on a given topic, not a non-fiction story.
What It's Like to Climb Mount Everest, blast off into space, survive a tornado, and other extraordinary stories by Jeff Belanger (J 179 BEL)
Have you ever read about Bethany Hamilton surviving a shark attack or watched a video of astronauts floating around in space and wondered what it would be like to have the experience yourself? By reading this book, you can gain a first hand view of several "extreme experiences"--without any actual risk to your own safety.
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy by Rhoda Blumberg (J 952 BLU)
This book reads like a fictional adventure story, but it is all true. Fourteen year old Manjiro is shipwrecked and survives for months on a desert island before being rescued by American whalers. He is exiled from his country and has adventures all around the world before returning to Japan at the age of 26. He returns to Japan as part of Commodore Perry's crew, determined to assist in the efforts to create diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan.
Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon by Andrew Chaikin (J 629.45 CHA)
Can you imagine what it would be like to blast off into space? To walk on the moon? This book describes some of the most exciting moments in the U.S. space program. It is illustrated by Apollo astronaut Alan Bean.
Reading Between the Bones by Susan Clinton (J 560.9 CLI)
Not so long ago, even the most knowlegable scientists didn't know that dinosaurs once walked the earth, but today the average preschooler can pronounce the Latin names of these prehistoric creatures as well as recite facts about them. This book describes how scientists first began to understand what fossils are, how they shared that knowledge with the public, and how the science of paleontology was developed.
Coast Guard: Civilian to Guardian (J 363.28 GOL) and Navy: Civilian to Sailor (J 359.5 GOL), both by Meish Goldish
Have you thought about joining the military when you are old enough? Do you think you have what it takes to defend the United States by sea? These photoessays of basic training might give you second thoughts about signing up--or have you looking forward to the time you are old enough to enlist. If you enjoyed reading Army: Civilian to Solder as part of the Middletown School's summer reading list, you'll enjoy these titles as well--they are part of the same series.
Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan (J 636.7 GRO)
Pet owners will easily relate to this bittersweet book. John Grogan excels at describing the good, the silly, and the sad times that come with having a dog in the family.
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Arthurdale Experiment by Nancy Hoffman (J 975.4 HOF)
A little boy and his pet rabbit were the inspiration for one of the most complex projects of the Great Depression: the creation of an entire town that embodied the spirit of the New Deal. Although Arthurdale is not as well-known as other New Deal programs, such as social security, it was a life-changing experience for its residents and lives on in the spirit of programs such as Habitat for Humanity.
Dinosaur Bone War: Cope and Marsh's Fossil Feud by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (J 560.9 KIM)
Just how did two esteemed scientists get caught up in a rivalry that led to tabloid headlines, destruction of scientific evidence, and financial ruin?
The Fairy Ring: or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure (J 398.21 LOS)
Nine year old Elsie and 15 year old Frances somehow managed to convince most of England not only that fairies exist, but that Elsie and Frances had managed to photograph some. Their many fans included esteemed author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes. Just how did two girls manage to trick so many people?
The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal by Sy Montgomery. Photographs by Nic Bishop (J 599.66 MON)
In this book, scientists who dedicate their life to studying animals in the wild get super excited over finding the animal they are trying to study: "This has never happened before--two in one day!" Yes, tapirs are that difficult to track--even the experts have trouble spotting them. This may be why few non-biologist have even heard of tapirs, unusual animals who look like small elephants, but whinny the way that horses do. It turns out that tapirs are super important to every thing else that lives in their biome--including humans. In this volume of National Geographic's "Scientists in the Field" series, we see scientists, track, study, and try to save an animal that even most locals don't know exists.
Marching to Appomattox: The Footrace that Ended the Civil War
The illustrations and text in this book work together to paint a vivid protrait of life for soldiers on both sides during one small part of the Civil War. It helps students make a connection with an important part of US history, by providing a specific story that encourages readers to empathize with individuals on both sides of the conflict. This short narrative non-fiction book is a good complement to textbooks or longer non-fiction texts that are filled with facts and photos of the war.