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Melissa Stewart

Author

Trained as both a scientist and journalist, Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 100 books for young readers. While gathering information for her books, Melissa has explored tropical forests in Costa Rica, gone on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, and swum with sea lions in the Galápagos Islands.

Melissa's Books

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Alligator or Crocodile?

Alligator or Crocodile?

How Do You Know?

Melissa Stewart
Alligators and crocodiles may look the same to you, but you might be surprised to learn just how different these animals are! Get a close up look at the differences between these animals with brilliant color photographs...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-5655-8
Binding: eBook
List Price: $23.60
Discount Price: $17.70

Amazing Eyes Up Close

Amazing Eyes Up Close

Melissa Stewart
Did you know that honeybees have more than two eyes? Or that a giant squid's eyes are bigger than dinner plates? AMAZING EYES UP CLOSE, in the ANIMAL BODIES UP CLOSE series, lets you learn all about how animals use their eyes to look for food and to stay safe...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-4369-5
Binding: eBook
List Price: $23.60
Discount Price: $17.70

Blue Animals

Blue Animals

Melissa Stewart
Who knew so many animals were blue?! Another title in the ALL ABOUT A RAINBOW OF ANIMALS series, BLUE ANIMALS lets new readers practice their colors with vibrant photos and simple text...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-4330-5
Binding: eBook
List Price: $23.60
Discount Price: $17.70

Butterfly or Moth?

Butterfly or Moth?

How Do You Know?

Melissa Stewart
How can you tell a butterfly from a moth? What is the difference? With colorful photographs and clear language, author Melissa Stewart shows young readers how to identify these animals using critical thinking skills...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-5564-3
Binding: eBook
List Price: $23.60
Discount Price: $17.70

Creepy, Crawly Jokes About Spiders and Other Bugs

Creepy, Crawly Jokes About Spiders and Other Bugs

Laugh and Learn About Science

Melissa Stewart
Who said science can't be funny?! Read some fascinating science facts about bugs, including butterflies, beetles, and bees. Then learn some seriously silly jokes! And the fun part? The section of the book that teaches you to write your own jokes about bugs! Get ready to laugh and learn about science...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-4452-4
Binding: eBook
List Price: $26.27
Discount Price: $19.70

Dino-Mite Jokes About Prehistoric Life

Dino-Mite Jokes About Prehistoric Life

Laugh and Learn About Science

Melissa Stewart
In DINO-MITE JOKES ABOUT PREHISTORIC LIFE learn about everything from early arthropods to dinosaurs and early humans. After reading all the silly jokes, follow author Melissa Stewart's directions to create your own jokes! Get ready to laugh and learn about science...Read More

Buying Options

ISBN: 978-0-7660-4449-4
Binding: eBook
List Price: $26.27
Discount Price: $19.70

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Melissa's Latest Blog Entries

The Unimpressed Reader

At the NCTE virtual conference the week before Thanksgiving, author Angie Thomas said something that has really stuck with me:

“There’s no such thing as a reluctant reader, only an unimpressed reader.”

I love this idea, and it’s closely aligned with what I’ve been saying for years. The secret of cultivating lifelong readers is giving each individual child exactly the  books they want to read—not books we think they should be reading.

 

Much of my work involves advocating for nonfiction, especially expository nonfiction, because studies show that about 40 percent of kids prefer it because they read to learn. The best way to impress them and get them excited about reading is by handing them a book on a topic that fascinates them.

 

But as Ms. Thomas points out, for some children, the single most important criteria may be something different, such as seeing themselves in the pages.

 

And for still other students, the key that will unlock the desire to read is something else. Whatever that “thing” is—whether it’s a topic, an idea, a format (such as graphic novels), a character from a certain background or with certain attributes—educators and parents must help children name it. Then they must provide a steady diet of books that meet the child’s criteria.

 

In some cases, this is a big job, a monumental task, but it’s a challenge that must be overcome because the reading lives of the next generation is at stake.

 

Thank you, Angie, for reminding us all how to reach the hearts and minds of young readers.

Resources for Educators: Literary Nonfiction vs. Commercial Nonfiction

More and more, teachers are requesting educational resources that go beyond traditional teachers guides and activity sheets. So while I do still have those kinds of materials on my website, I’m also offering resources that delve deeply into the nonfiction reading and writing process from an author’s point of view. 

Some of these resources focus on books I’ve written and describe various stages of my creative process in detail, while others provide more general information  and highlight books written by a wide variety of nonfiction authors.  

On Mondays this year, I’m going to be sharing some of these resources and providing ideas for how they might be used in the classroom. Today, I’m going to focus on the Literary Nonfiction vs. Commercial Nonfiction article, which you can access by clicking on the Nonfiction Reading Resources icon.

This article explains and compares these two different segments of the children’s nonfiction market and the characteristics of the books in each category.

Where I’ll Be at NCTE

NCTE is one of my favorite conferences of the year, so it’s a shame that we can’t all be there in person.Still, I really appreciate all the effort that’s gone into creating a fabulous virtual conference

I hope you’ll join me and some of my nonfiction colleagues as we discuss the new anthology Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. I really believe it will revolutionize the way nonfiction writing is taught in K-12 classroom across the country.

From Research to Revision, Ick! Part 9

On Wednesdays this fall, I’m sharing the process of creating my recently-published book Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animals Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses step-by-step. (To learn about the whole process in one sitting or to share an age-appropriate version with your students, check out this new resource on my website.)

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been discussing the first stage of revision--how I revise on my own before sending my manuscript to an editor. You can scroll down and read that post. Today I’ll focus on revising based on my editor’s feedback. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Ick! is a blended book. It has some characteristics of expository literature and some characteristics of browseable nonfiction.


Like most browseable books, each double-page spread in Ick! functions as a distinct unit made up of various text features. The text features in Ick! include a main text, a main illustration and caption, a Stat Stack, an Extra Ick! factoid, and a sidebar that incorporates a sidebar and caption.

Originally, each spread also had a Math Matters sidebar. My editor thought these seemed a little too “educational,” so I suggested changing the name to Critter Challenge, but she didn’t think that was enough. We did some brainstorming and decided to rename them Putrid Puzzlers. Then I rewrote them to be more like puzzles or riddles that incorporate math. But at the next pass, the executive editor expressed the same concern—too “educational”, so we cut them completely. I was sorry to see them go, but of course, editors know best what will sell to their targeted market. 

Some of the other sections changed just a little, and others changed a lot. Here’s a typical example of comments from the book’s editor, Shelby Lees:

As you can see, she’s asked some great questions. They helped me really think through the process a turkey vulture uses to detect carcasses, so that I could explain it more clearly.  

And the revisions made to address her concerns. It’s as big improvement.

Here's the final spread:
In about six cases, the editor thought my original examples weren’t gross enough. She asked me to replace those spreads with something else. In one instance, we omitted the grasshopper, and replaced it with what is now one of my favorite animals in the book—the bone-eating snot flower worm. Isn’t that name irresistible?


And then, when the photos came in, we made some additional changes so the words and pictures worked well together. It took about 2 years of collaborating with my editor and other National Geographic staff members to get everything just right. In the end, I’m really proud of this book, and I think your students will love it.

Resources for Educators: What’s Blended Nonfiction?

More and more, teachers are requesting educational resources that go beyond traditional teachers guides and activity sheets. So while I do still have those kinds of materials on my website, I’m also offering resources that delve deeply into the nonfiction reading and writing process from an author’s point of view. 

Some of these resources focus on books I’ve written and describe various stages of my creative process in detail, while others provide more general information  and highlight books written by a wide variety of nonfiction authors.  

On Mondays this year, I’m going to be sharing some of these resources and providing ideas for how they might be used in the classroom. Today, I’m going to focus on the What’s Blended Nonfiction? article, which you can access by clicking on the Nonfiction Reading Resources icon.

This article discusses books that are a mix of two or more categories that make up the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction—active, browsable, traditional, expository literature, and narrative. 

Books that are a mix of expository literature and narrative nonfiction are especially intriguing because These books have something for everyone, AND they can help all children build critical reading skills.   

The expository sections of high-quality, high-interest blended books will captivate fact-loving kids, motivating them to tackle the narrative sections. Similarly, young narrative lovers will be drawn to the story-rich sections of blended books, inspiring them to do the work necessary to digest and comprehend the expository passages. These are the kinds of books that can help all students develop into passionate, lifelong readers.
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Melissa's Award Winners

Why Are Animals Blue?

2009 SOCIETY OF SCHOOL LIBRARIANS INTERNATIONAL HONOR BOOK AWARD IN SCIENCE

Why Are Animals Blue?

Why Are Animals Blue?

An NSTA-CBS OUTSTANDING SCIENCE TRADE BOOKS FOR STUDENTS K-12 1997 2010 Selection

Why Are Animals Blue?