Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thematic Book List - Clouds, Rain, and Snow

My last thematic list focused on water and the water cycle. It did not include books on clouds or any form of precipitation. These things are integral components in the water cycle and are necessary for returning water to the earth's surface.

Here's an annotated list of books that examine clouds and precipitation and the role they play in the water cycle and weather. You'll also find books here that celebrate rain and snow with lush images and sensory descriptions.

Nonfiction Picture Books
The Cloud Book (1984), written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola - This text focuses on different types of clouds: cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and other combinations of these three main types. The cloud types are described and presented with illustrated examples. Also included are myths about clouds and popular sayings inspired by clouds and the weather.

Clouds (2008), written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Frane Lessac - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes clouds, what they are made of, what they are called, and much more. The simple, engaging text in this stage 1 book makes the content accessible to a range of age groups.

The Man Who Named the Clouds (2006, OP), written by Julie Hanna and Joan Holub  and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye - This biography of Luke Howard tells the story the "father of meteorology." Readers will learn about his life and determination to find new ways to study the weather. After studying Linnaeus and his system for scientifically classifying plants and animals, he used these ideas and developed a system for classifying clouds.

Shapes in the Sky: A Book About Clouds (2003), written by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Omarr Wesley - This book will help readers understand that clouds come in different types and forms. The text explains how clouds are formed, how they are named, and how they  are distinguished from one another.

Vapor, Rain, and Snow: The Science of Clouds and Precipitation (2011), written by Paul Fleisher  - At nearly 50 pages, this book is filled with information about clouds and precipitation. It opens by explaining that "Weather is what happens in the air around us. But a lot of weather is really about water." In four chapters Fleisher describes water in the air, clouds, precipitation, and atmospheric phenomena like rainbows, halos, and sun dogs.

Down Comes the Rain (1997), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by James Graham Hale - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series follows the rain as it falls, evaporates, condenses, and falls again.

It's Raining! (2014), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - A perfect book for young readers, Gibbons explores rain with simple definitions, basic facts, and interesting bits of information. Readers will learn what rain is, where it comes from, and why it is necessary. Includes maps that show annual rainfall amounts around the world and information on storms.

Raindrops Roll (2015), by April Pulley Sayre - Gorgeous photographs accompany a lyrical text about water in the form of rain. Though the text is economical, it conveys a sense of wonder and beauty. Back matter examines the science of rain and includes facts about clouds, raindrop shapes, and the "abilities" of raindrops (hydrating insects, magnifying objects, and more). with facts about cloud formation, the shapes of raindrops and what they’re capable of—magnifying their surroundings, reflecting light, hydrating insects and more. Also included is a reading list for learning more.

Splish! Splash! A Book About Rain (2003), written by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Jeff Yesh - This book uses fun pictures and simple vocabulary to explain where rain comes from and why rain is important to the earth and to humans. Sherman also delves into what happens when too much rain (flooding) or not enough rain (drought) occurs.

It's Snowing! (2011), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - A perfect book for young readers, Gibbons explores snow with simple definitions, basic facts, and interesting bits of information. Readers will learn what snow is, how it forms, regions where snow falls, and how to prepare for a snowstorm. Also includes information on the ways in which snow falls to the ground, such as sleet, flurries, and a winter storm.

The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes (2010), written by Kenneth Libbrecht  - The author of this book is a physicist at Caltech known for his passion for snow crystals. In this book aimed at 9-12 year olds, but appropriate for a much broader (and older) audience,  Libbrecht teaches readers what snow crystals and snowflakes are, where they come from, and how these amazing structures are created out of thin air. His own photographs beautifully complement the text.

All snowflakes begin with water vapor in air, but as they begin their journey toward the ground, changes in temperature and humidity determine their exact and unique shape. Libbrecht answers questions that many children (and adults) are apt to ask, such as "Why is snow white when the crystals that comprise snow are clear?" Libbrecht's web site,, provides a wealth of images and even more information for those readers who finish the book and want to learn more. I recommend starting with the Snowflake Primer and the Snow Crystal FAQs.

Snow is Falling (2000), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by Holly Keller - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes the benefits and importance of snow, as well as the danger of too much of it. Back matter includes experiments and activities for cold, snowy days.

Snowflake Bentley (1998), written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian - This Caldecott Medal winner tells the true story of Wilson Bentley, a farmer who spent the better part of his life studying and photographing snowflakes. Willie's story is told from his childhood through his death. Accompanying the biography are a series of sidebars that contain additional facts about Bentley. The last page of the book contains a photo of Bentley at his camera (the same one at the top of the Wilson Snowflake Bentley home page), a quote about his love for photography, and three of his renowned snowflake images. This is the story of a remarkable man who pushed the limits of science and technology to create groundbreaking images of snowflakes. If the book inspires an interest in further study, you can view a number of his amazing photographs at The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder (2009), written by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson  - Mark Cassino is a fine art and natural history photographer. Jon Nelson is a teacher and physicist who studies ice crystals and clouds. Together they have given us a stunning volume on the formation of snow. A perfect mixture of art and science, Cassino's photographs are accompanied by clearly written text that explains a very complex process in terms kids will understand. Readers will learn what snow is made from, how it forms, what shapes it takes, and more! Photos of snow crystals are included with a comparison of the enlarged images to a snow crystal of actual size. In the back matter you will find directions on how to catch snow crystals and examine them. For more ideas for extending the text, download a teacher's guide for this title at the Chronicle web site.

Poetry Books
One Big Rain: Poems for a Rainy Days (2014), compiled by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke - This collection of 20 poems about rain through the seasons opens with a haiku about the season. Four additional poems follow. Gray includes eight haiku, two poems translated from other languages (Norwegian and Spanish), works by well-known poets like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Eve Merriam, as well as works by poets whose names may not be familiar to readers. The illustrations in muted browns, grays, blacks and greens beautifully capture the mood and subject of the poems. The book opens with an introduction that describes rain through the seasons. Following the introduction is a note about haiku translations. Adapted from a work by poet and translator William J. Higginson, the emphasis is not on counting syllables, but on finding the best rhythm for the haiku in the new language.

Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children (2005), written by Jane Yolen with photographs by Jason Stemple - This collection of 13 beautifully crafted poems, inspired by stunning photographs of snowy woods, skiers, a snowmobile, and much more, will lead readers to see snow the wonder of snow and maybe even view it in a new way. One of my favorite poems in the collection begins "Somebody painted/The trees last night,/ Crept in and colored them/White on white."

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (2001), written by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers - Frost's poem is beautifully imagined in this picture book adaptation.

Picture Books
There are many, many books about snow and rain, and far too many to mention here. Instead, I am sharing my very favorite on each subject.
Listen to the Rain (1988), written Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by James Endicott - This is a lyrically written and gorgeously illustrated book that celebrates the beauty, the mystery, the sounds, and the silences of the rain.

Snow (1998), written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz - Even though the adults believe that it will not snow, a boy and his dog don't give up hope. This is a Caldecott honor book that beautifully portrays the transformation of a city when it snows.

Online Resources
For additional resources, consider these sites.

That's it for this essential part of the water cycle. Since we've hit upon important components of weather, that will be the topic of the next list. See you soon!

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