In my recent series on the importance of bringing “real” published authors to your school, I mentioned that Jerry Pallotta was going to be visiting my children’s school. This was a special treat for me because he was the first “real author” experience I had as a teacher- over 10 years ago!
The first thing I noticed about Jerry was that he looked exactly the same! The second thing was that he has been very busy since I saw him last. What an impressive catalog of books!
I wanted to take a moment and feature Jerry and his books because they are so helpful in the classroom. Here are three of his current series that are especially supportive in terms of connecting to content or being “easy to innovate.” (That is- easy to use as a format for student writing.)
Alphabet Book Series: This was where the magic began. Jerry’s first book was an ocean alphabet book. He now has more than 20 alphabet books to his credit. The best part is that they are non-fiction and topical in nature- a great structure for students to use in a project that integrates research with informational writing. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Skull Alphabet Book – This is such a cool alphabet book! Textual and visual clues in the illustrations help children to figure out which animal’s skull is being featured on this page. Unique!
This is a beautiful book. General information on butterflies is presented, as well as interesting facts about the different species of butterflies.
This is one of Jerry’s “greatest hits” and is a solid match for any insect unit.
The Extinct Alphabet Book (Jerry Pallotta’s Alphabet Books)Another really cool concept! This book features 26 animals and insects that are now extinct (and no dinosaurs!) Though the cover image shows fossils and bones, many of the illustrations show what scientists believe the animals really looked like. Students are always fascinated with this book.
The Furry Animal Alphabet Book
As with all Jerry’s books, this one contains a nice balance of humor, interesting facts, and illustration to present factual information. One of the things I love about these alphabet books is that they work so well with older grades in addition to younger grades.
The Beetle Alphabet Book Who knew there were so many different interesting (and beautiful) beetles in the world? Another cool feature: there is a Beatles (as in the band) song title hidden in each picture. Those of us in the “older” generations have fun looking!
Who Would Win Series: Got any reluctant readers? Any kids who think reading is boring? This series was designed for them!
In the Who Would Win series, Jerry compares two (dangerous) animals, reptiles, fish, or insects to determine which one would win in a fight. Of course, it’s really just a great gimmick that draws children into an interesting informational text full of compelling facts, enticing illustrations, diagrams, labeled images, and a variety of non-fiction text features. My first grade son is absolutely in love with these books! However, they could be used with any grade K-5.
The Who Would Win books don’t seem to be available on Amazon but you can order all of Jerry’s books through his personal website. That might be your easiest option- especially if your school wanted to put together a larger order.
Jerry also has some great “story books” that I love. Here are a few recommendations:
Dory Story – This is an adventure story combined with a lesson about the food chain. A little boy sneaks out in his dory to look for plankton, only to see bigger and bigger fish. Things get dramatic when the boat capsizes… but the surprise ending makes it all OK. Really nice story.
A Giraffe Did One – What do people and animals and insects and fish all have in common? Poop! Enough said. (Fun and cute book. Kids love it.)
Who Will Plant a Tree?– I used to think that teaching children about “seed dispersal” was one of my more boring teaching tasks. I needed this book! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s an interesting and beautifully illustrated book about the various ways in which seeds travel and are planted. (And yes, poop makes another “appearance.”)
Finally, his holiday series is a lot of fun. Check those out too.
The best thing about studying Jerry Pallotta’s work with your students is that he is great at making informational text fun and interesting. It isn’t easy to share factual information with a strong and unique “voice” but Jerry pulls it off. He has a wonderful sense of humor and it comes across in his writing. (And during his talks with children and teachers.) If you’d like more information on Jerry’s visits to schools, see his website.
His books make wonderful mentor texts for your students. You can anchor a non-fiction writing project with an alphabet book or a “Who would win?” format. These are easy structures for children to use when organizing their information.
In my next post I’ll share some examples of student work inspired by Jerry’s books… you will be inspired!
Other posts in this series: