Picture of Melissa Stewart

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: $24.60
Discount Price: $18.45

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: $24.60
Discount Price: $18.45

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: $24.60
Discount Price: $18.45

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: $24.60
Discount Price: $18.45

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: $27.27
Discount Price: $20.45

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: $27.27
Discount Price: $20.45

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Melissa's Latest Blog Entries

The Goal of 5 Kinds of Nonfiction

Recently, I’ve been receiving emails from authors who haven’t had a chance to read 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books. They are sending me a PDF of their nonfiction book and asking me to classify it for them.

While I do read the PDF and send them my thinking about how to categorize it, I also let them know that there isn’t always a single “right” answer. Two people might read the book and classify it differently, and that’s totally fine.

The real purpose of the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system is to get people thinking about a book’s characteristics and appreciating the craftmanship that went into creating it. The system provides teachers and students and writers with terminology for analyzing the text, art, and design elements of nonfiction. It can also help people to compare two or more books.

For years, we’ve been dividing fiction into genres like mysteries and science fiction and historical fiction, but then we just lumped all nonfiction together. The 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system allows us to see that different categories of books can be used in different ways.

Understanding the system allows students to predict the kinds of information they’re likely to find in a book and how that information will be presented. It also helps them identify the kind(s) of nonfiction they enjoy reading most.


Traditional nonfiction books are a great choice for early stages of the research process, while browsable books are better suited for later stages. Expository literature titles are ideal mentor texts for informational writing, while active nonfiction is a better model for procedural writing. Some students love reading narrative nonfiction, while others get more excited about browseable nonfiction. 

The true value of the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction is that it helps us understand the wide world of nonfiction and all it has to offer young readers and writers.

5 Bedtime Books for Curious Kids: Oceans

 Kids love nonfiction! Studies show that 40 percent of elementary-aged children prefer fact-based books and another 30 percent enjoy fiction and nonfiction equally. So doesn’t it make sense to share these titles with young readers at home as well as at school? 

Here are five fantastic ocean-themed nonfiction picture books that are perfect for exploring as a family before kids drift off to sleep.

Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley and Dan Tavis

Freaky, Funky Fish: Odd Facts About Fascinating Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell

Seashells: More than a Home by Melissa Stewart and Sarah S. Brannen

The Tide Pool Waits by Candace Fleming and Amy Hevron

Washed Ashore: Making Art from Ocean Plastic by Kelly Crull

Upcoming Presentations & Book Signings




 

Info Writing Tip: The Idea Incubator

In most schools, students do an informational writing unit in the winter—right after the holiday break. But now’s the time to do one small thing that will make a HUGE difference when January rolls around.

We all know that students do their best informational writing when they select their own topics. They’re more invested in the process, from research to revision.

But we also know that choosing a topic from the wide world of possibilities is intimidating, even paralyzing, for some children. How can we support them? By setting them up for success—now.

Ideas don’t materialize out of thin air for anyone. That’s why I have an Idea Board in my office. Anytime I have an idea or a question, anytime I hear a tantalizing tidbit, I write it on a scrap of paper and tack it up there. Then, when it’s time to start a new book, I look at all those ideas and choose one. I have options right there in front of me. Lots of them.

Young writers can mimic my technique by creating what I call an Idea Incubator—a bulleted list of potential topics on the last page of their writer’s notebook. Every time they have an idea or question about something they see, read, or experience, they can add it to their Idea Incubator. They can also include cool facts they come across.

If they start now, their Idea Incubator will be ready for action when they need it.

When it’s time to start a nonfiction writing project, students can use their Idea Incubator as a starting point. If they’re choosing their own topic, they may be able to pull an idea directly from their list.

What if you assign a whole-class topic that aligns with your content-area curriculum? No problem. A list of facts, ideas, and questions is still a valuable tool. Working alone or with a partner, students can search for a common thread among the items on their list and brainstorm ways to apply that to the whole-class topic you’ve assigned.

For example, let’s say your class is studying the American Revolutionary War, and you want everyone to write a report related to that whole-class topic. Obvious choices might be George Washington or the Battle of Bunker Hill. But let’s face it, not everyone has a deep natural interest in a dead white guy or a skirmish that happened in Boston almost 250 years ago.

That’s where the Idea Incubator can come in handy. As a student looks at her list, she may notice a lot of facts, questions, and ideas about the weather and wonder if she could write a report about the weather during the Revolutionary War. After doing some research, she discovers that the 1770s were an exceptionally cold, snowy period in history, and the weather influenced the outcome of many battles. Bingo! She’s identified a great topic that she’s excited about.

Another student notices that his list includes some facts, questions, and ideas about numbers and math. He might decide to create a series of infographics comparing statistics related to different battles or the two competing armies.

A third student who’s fascinated by fashion could focus on the kind of clothing the soldiers wore, including how a severe shortage of boots affected the Colonial troops.

When students use an Idea Incubator to recognize their natural interests and find ways to discuss a whole-class topic through that lens, they’ll be more invested in the process and their final piece will burst with passion and personality. But for this tool to work, students need to start working on it now. Why not give it a try?

For more suggestions to make the process of teaching informational writing more authentic, more like what professional writers do and how they approach their work, check Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep, an anthology with essays by 50 of today's leading authors of nonfiction books for children.


A School-wide Heritage Timeline: Nonfiction Learning Fills the Hallway by Paula Januzzi-Godfrey

Last spring, I saw images of the incredible heritage timeline school librarian Paula Januzzi-Godfrey had facilitated at her school on Facebook and wanted to know more. I reached out to Paula, and over the summer, she wrote this wonderful description of how it began and developed over time. Thank you, Paula! Your students are SO lucky to have you.

Last September, I began a new job as an elementary librarian at a school that serves predominantly Black and Brown children that represent a variety of cultures and countries of origin. One of my goals was to find meaningful ways to celebrate heritage months. I saw this as a perfect way to generate school-wide enthusiasm about our nonfiction book collections and the many ways we can learn about people, places, history, cultures, and ourselves through nonfiction literacy instruction.


Inspiration for the heritage timeline project developed organically, beginning as I was teaching a lesson in January. I had pulled out some of my favorite books about Martin Luther King, Jr. to share with students. I began each lesson by showing a photo of MLK, Jr. and asking if anyone recognized him.

The majority of the students were not sure, and some identified him as another person, such as LeBron James and Barack Obama. This led to rich, informative discussions about when and why the civil rights movement began, Black Lives Matter, and why we celebrate certain people on certain days.

I began to see that putting people, places, and events in historical context would help student understanding tremendously. Most importantly, I wanted the children to realize that what they were learning about the past was relevant to their lives now. I knew that visual teaching tools like timelines, maps, and photos could play a powerful role in expanding their knowledge.


Using a document camera, I began sharing timelines from a variety of nonfiction books. One of my favorites is The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca. I used maps and photos to show where events on the timelines occurred, and I connected people and events that had happened across our country or world. These visuals helped students put everything into perspective.

Next, I told students what year I was born and what was happening in history when I was their age, and what was happening when their parents and grandparents were their age. Student engagement was high, and they were asking thought-provoking questions.

As I thought about building on this momentum in a way that made what they were learning interactive, I began to envision a life-size heritage timeline in the main hallway of the school. It would consist of content created by students, teachers, and staff—the entire school community.


So I used black construction paper secured with putty (so that I could remove it later without leaving any marks on the walls) to layout a timeline that began in 1619 and ended in 2022. I provided some templates and invited students and teachers to draw or write about a person or event that we had discussed. Over time, more and more students and teachers added pieces to the timeline.

There was representation of Black artists, politicians, athletes, authors, poets, activists, musicians and more. All genders and people with many shades of black and brown skin tones covered the walls as you entered the school.

One of our guest speakers was a city councilman who could be found in a photo on our timeline with his wife, as local business owners.

I began to notice teachers and students stopping in the hallway to read items on the timeline, and I received feedback about how much our students and staff were enjoying watching the unfolding of the timeline display. Most importantly to me, I heard and saw that students and teachers were seeing themselves reflected in the photos on the timeline.



At the end of the month, I placed two mirrors under the year 2022 along with the words “World Changer”. Our students are our future world changers, so I wanted them to see themselves on the timeline.


The timeline was so well received that staff members asked if it could be kept on display beyond February. That inspired me to not only keep it up in the hallway, but to encourage the school community to keep adding to it for Women's History Month, Poetry Month and Asian Pacific Month. I’m hoping we’ll keep adding to the timeline this year, starting with materials related to Hispanic Heritage month.

Paula Januzzi-Godfrey began her career 37 years ago as a high school special ed teacher. She then taught grades 4-5, became a literacy coach, and currently serves as an elementary school librarian at Glenn Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina. In 1998, she founded and directed a children’s museum in Durham, NC. She has also served as a board member for nonprofit organizations that advocate for children, families, and education.

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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?