With the flood of non-fiction books coming onto the market as a response to Common Core, non-fiction picture books are definitely trendy. That being said, it is imperative to choose picture books that capture young readers visually while still offering information interesting enough to keep them coming back for more. Hurricanes!, by Gail Gibbons, is the perfect example of a non-fiction picture book with fun, captivating illustrations that compliment well-written text.
Although discussing a serious topic, the illustrations are simple enough to engage children who are being read to, yet still complex enough to offer something for children advanced enough to read the text on their own. Busy pictures with lively scenes are used throughout the book. Crashing ships and smashed houses will engage younger listeners, and inform older readers to the realities of how devastating nature can be.
The writing is perfect for reading to younger elementary students, and is well-suited for readers who are becoming more advanced, without being overwhelming. The book offers many instances for teaching new vocabulary, as well as lessons on geography. This book would be especially interesting for students who live in areas regularly affected by hurricanes.
All aspects of hurricanes are discussed, from their formation, to how they are categorized, to how they are predicted and finally how to prepare for one. Growing up, I would have loved this book. It is about something that I heard about on the news or overheard my parents talking about. This book is a wonderful introduction to non-fiction, because it eases the reader into the world of dense information texts. In many ways, it is an introduction to textbook reading. The writing and diagrams are similar to, but more fun than, a textbook’s. I would recommend this book to any student who enjoys book on nature, but is still not ready for intense non-fiction. Gail Gibbons has also written Tornadoes!, Penguins!, Owls and many other non-fiction books, and this series would be a wonderful stepping stone towards textbook reading for any student.