How to Read Different Nonfiction Books

How to Read Different Nonfiction Books

  • Reading Nonfiction Picture Books

  • Reading Nonfiction Using Text Features

  • Reading Nonfiction with 0-10 year olds

Reading Nonfiction stories introduces new vocabulary words, truthful ideas, and new information about our world. Nonfiction can be defined as, informational text that expresses researched content from science, art, mathematics, history, engineering, and many other areas. As your child progresses into different stages of reading features will be important to know such as the text, the vocabulary, and topics. Many of these features will become more complex, and eventually, when they are in secondary or high school your reader will have more informational text to advance their studies.

In this article, you can find additional information about nonfiction reading here. 

At any stage that your child is in, you can read nonfiction text from infant, toddler, child, teen, and up. The best way to select nonfiction stories is to think about what your reader likes to do, and what you as a parent/guardian like to do. For example, if your child loves trucks, food, and planes then you can read about those topics. Alternatively, if you work in the arts or software then it would be good to read books about your areas of interest as well. 

Below you will find suggestions on How to Read Nonfiction Texts using examples from these nonfiction books.

My First 100 Technology Words



Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering


Little Legends


Ocean (Magnetology)

Nonfiction Feature: Photographs, Illustrations, Icons & Captions

Pre-K book Examples

Imagery can help your reader understand the language throughout the book. The image gives a reference to what the word means. To read nonfiction books such as, My First 100 Technology Words  or Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering series, the books use illustrations to expand on complex topics.

My 100 Technology Words is a visual text using images and captions. This book can support learning vocabulary. In addition, you can describe the word or icon as an example, stating in a sentence, or looking for other examples that you might see.

Example Questions

  • Hammer “A hammer is a tool used to… What can you use a hammer with?
  • Cloud “You can see clouds outside, but a cloud lives in the computer which keeps information.”
  • Lever “A lever can be found on your belt, the handle on a car door, even if place it right your arm.

Furthermore, using the word in different ways can build a deeper connection to the text and allow for you and your reader to have conversations. To make an iconic book even more real you can encourage them to draw/scribble, or even use their toys if it is similar to an image in the book.

A series of narrative nonfiction books are written in Baby Loves Series. These are a series of STEM and history books for children ages 0-3. The author takes complex topics and breaks them down with a character who demonstrates or plays with the topic. For example in the Gravity book the baby practices dropping things. In Aerospace Engineering, the baby sees a bird fly and then sees an airplane fly. The author explains how flying is a form of aerospace engineering. In this example of a narrated nonfiction book, the characters are experiencing the topic and having a lot of fun as well. To expand on the vocabulary and illustrations, you can ask questions about the book.

Example Questions

  • What do you see?
  • I saw you do this too, let’s try____.”
  • What happened when__?” “I like ___”

 These are examples and you can ask many more.


Nonfiction Feature: Headings, Index, Bibliography
Elementary-Aged Books

Little Legends Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Little Legends Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Little Legends shares different historical stories about prominent Black men and another book about prominent Black women. This book is for readers ages 6-10 due to the word complexity and information. Each character is shaped the same, but she uses the different text features, colors, and wardrobe illustrations to differentiate the characters. In this nonfiction book, you can learn important details about each character.

Additionally, as you read use the text features to guide your questions.

Example Questions

  • Look at the Heading, “What is his name and where was he born?”
  • “Let’s find___ in the index.”
  • “Look at the backgrounds how is this page illustrated?”

Nonfiction Feature: Captions, Images, Types of Print

Ocean by Ines Adam
Books for children ages 4-8 years old

Twirl books have a different mechanism so the reader can manipulate objects. In Ocean, Magnetology you can place objects on different pages. The book has backgrounds so these magnet pieces support the text. Also, different types of print are used to show the difference of text to read, captions, and headings of each page. You can discuss how the object moves on the page and what it does in the real world.

Click here for a full list of nonfiction text features. If you are lucky enough to have a library or books at home, take many chances to read nonfiction and fiction text with your reader.



Juneteenth Learning for Kids-Reading Activities

Juneteenth Learning for Kids-Reading Activities

  • Topics about Juneteenth

  • Vocabulary words and questions about Juneteenth

Successful Black Parenting Magazine provides 19 suggestions on Real Learning Activities for Families About Juneteenth. “These activities are suggestions. Take them and customize them for the age of your child. Young children, under the age of six, should not learn any details about slavery but instead celebrate the freedom aspect of Juneteenth. From ages seven-to-nine, gory details should be left out. Children over ages 10-13 may be able to handle more graphic aspects. You can guide your children to create book reports, diagrams, dioramas, poster art, a tri-board presentation, or a PowerPoint presentation of the following activities. Encourage them not to just copy and paste but to read everything and to use their own words and thoughts about the subject they choose.”

Just because Juneteenth has ended, you can continue to find ways as the editor suggested above to keep the truth alive. Below are additional Juneteenth reading activities for children and vocabulary terms. If you are searching for books, you can find a Booklist here.

1. Amendments (13th, 14th, 15th )
What are the amendments?
What do laws do?
Who makes these laws?
Give examples on how the amendments affects your life now.

2. The First African American Senators (First Colored Senators)
Who were they?
Why do you think they were primarily from the South?
Why were their roles significant?
How did Reconstruction affect their roles?

3. What is Reconstruction?
What were the periods of peace and hope?
How did African Americans survive during this time period?
How long was Reconstruction?
Visual Reading Guide Here

4. Voting
What was the significance of voting during these times?

  1. The 15th Amendment of 1869 giving citizens voting rights
  2. Voting Rights Act of 1965
  3. Voting Restrictions of 2021

5. Discover Narratives of People Who Faced Slavery and what they did to live as a Citizen
Read Jourdon Anderson’s Letter to his Former Master
Jourdon’s Master asked that he come back to work on the plantation. Jourdon’s response was powerful and even included mathematical equations for the money that he was owed from his years of enslavement.

Juneteenth has a rich history of customs and celebrations to remember people affected from slavery. Below are additional vocabulary words.

Vocabulary Words

African descent
African diaspora
American Colonization Society
Scientific racism

Reading Strategies to Motivate Struggling Readers

Reading Strategies to Motivate Struggling Readers

  • Reading Strategies to help your child to read.

  • Make reading realistic so they can see how to use it in their lives

Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers

You might be wondering why your 8-year-old struggles with reading or even why your fifteen-year-old struggles with reading. Unlocking the abilities of your child’s reading abilities can provide the vast potential and experiences so that he or she can navigate this world. Children need to have the foundational skills of word acquisition, word meaning, reading speeding and pace, understanding, and word structure. Reading is a complex skill, and if he or she does not have a general interest, below are some tips to consider.

A. Inventory A child who chooses not to read has a reason why. If they are old enough ask: Why don’t you read? What do you like or dislike? What is your favorite thing(s) to do besides reading? This inventory should take 5-15 minutes at a minimum so you can gather stories, experiences, and hear key problems. At the heart of every challenge, there is a core issue and I encourage you or a mentor to dig deep. Also asking about their interests will give you the tools to better understand their learning styles and interests. So if your reader says, “I love playing soccer.” “I love making graphics for Instagram.” “I love being outside.” You can now pinpoint, a soccer player loves movement and is kinesthetics, a social media child loves visuals and technology, and an outdoor kid might love adventure and has a knack for spatial intelligence. You can learn more here about the 8 different learning styles.  

B. Find a mentor Finding a mentor who can hold your reader accountable, checking- in consistently, and sharing their own experiences can be a critical shift. A mentor can bring real-world importance to the importance of reading and how it affects their lives day-to-day. I know that children sometimes lose interest in always hearing their parents “preach” to them. If you do not know where to find a mentor, search for mentoring programs, ask a colleague, ask for a referral from a friend or family member. Believe it or not, adults want to help our youth, and matching your reader with a mentor is possible.   

C. Make Reading Realistic Children go through a variety of developmental stages.

An example about an eleven to fourteen-year-old: What I’m Like: I’m more independent than I used to be, but I’m quite self-conscious. I think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer. I like to talk about issues in the adult world. I like to think for myself, and though I often feel confused, my opinions are important to me, and I want others to respect them. I seem to be moving away from my family. Friends are more important than ever. To have them like me, I sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of. But I still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, I’m more understanding and cooperative. I want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, if I’m mature enough I can often be by myself or watch others.” You can find more about their Stages Description Here.

When your child hits the preteen stage, then their ideas of realism are stronger than before. The best way to make their experiences, “REAL.” Is by identifying the core reasons why your reader does not readExamples

  • Read teen or child magazines-talk about key points
  • Read a series of books that fits their interests.
  • If the booklist is realistic with topics on space, history, technology, and etc, extend that experience to take them to the place, write to the author or an expert, or a virtual visit.
  • Find books where your reader can learn a new skill. Ask them something they would like to do in ??? months. If determined these could be books on sewing, coding, sign language, and this way you could see how they are implementing this vocation and reading.
  • Make a blog, podcast, or private channel in TikTok or YouTube
  • Join a book club or start a book club
  • 1:1 if your reader “HATES” reading, I always encourage parents for every 1 book that YOU like, you will read an ACADEMIC text that is required by your school. Starting off will be painful, but it can work.
  • Of course, read with your child. Take dedicated time where you read your text and your child reads his or her own text.

D. Focus on Skill In the 21st century, learning has taken a new approach. Learning is less about the retention of large amounts of facts and datasets. Learning is about manipulating and utilizing those data sets. As you encourage your child to read they can focus on skills such as vocabulary skills, comprehension skills, fluency skills, phonics skills, and writing skills. Each skill has a unique pathway and keeping this in place. Learning is also about collaboration, and communication to solve future problems in the world they will live in. 

E. Read Consistently Reading should not be a serendipitous task. Reading should be something in your home that occurs on expected days. It can be different where reading is before TV time. Examples: Reading happens 30 minutes after social media check-ins. Reading occurs while eating breakfast. Read while driving in the car or on a bus, and “parent or guardian” will ask a question before leaving the vehicle. There are many opportunities to carve out that time. As a working parent make reading work the best for you. Reading should not be a chore, it should be an integrated experience that makes your household interesting.  

F. Learn a New Language Learning a new language might be difficult. However, learning a new language gives your reader the skills to compare “cognates,” “word structures,” “word orders,” “phrases” and more. Learning a new language takes years and immersive with others who speak the language. However, if your reader is interested in traveling or meeting other people you can use this new learning as a way to keep them engaged with their native language. It will be especially important to make sure there is a balance between reading the foreign language and reading their native language text. For example, I have learned American Sign Language. And ASL has a different structure. Where are you going? GOING WHERE? Reading this sentence alone made me think about how they order and change their sentences around.

G. Learn Storytelling or Spoken Word There are thousands of storytelling and spoken word opportunities for young adults and teens. Storytellers must have the skill of reading, writing, and speaking. There are even a host of competitions that young people can compete for with original spoken art. In your local community, you should look up different groups, but you can find more here at the National Storytelling Network Reading has opportunities, and it will take time to discover what those key opportunities are. Above are a few tips that we are excited to share with you. Feel free to contact us with additional questions.

Discover Pennez’s services if you would like support to motivate your struggling reader. Here

How to Teach A 4th Grader to Read a Picture

How to Teach A 4th Grader to Read a Picture

A lesson on how to read a picture with a 4th grader. 

Reading images might be complicated, but using real world examples and discussions makes it easier to read images. 

A parent, N.J., provided a visual-literacy lesson with her daughter in December 2020. In her original social media post, she wrote:  “My daughter and I are studying Frida Kahlo as a well as imagery and symbolism (mainly using poetry.) One of her activities today will be to visit the Museo Frida Kahlo and survey some of her paintings via Google’s Arts and Culture link. “



You can find her lesson connected to the common core standard-enhance her daughter’s reading comprehension and visual literacy. This visual Common Core Standard indicates CCSS. ELA-Literacy.CCCRA.R7, “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.”

Implementing a visual literacy standard indicates that you are viewing lines, colors, objects, patterns, animations, interactions, and more. The viewer is searching for cues to better understand what they are viewing.

Literacy Ideas states, “We can think of visual literacy as involving the similar processes of interpreting images and creating images. In a fast-moving world, with ever-increasing diagnosis of attention deficit disorders, we increasingly rely on images to quickly convey meaning.”

Reading images has a place for reading, comprehending, and understanding. When a young person reads a text with many pictures, you can use that time to-ask questions about the images, relate images to the real world, show examples, and build a conversation about what you see.


Below you can view more about N.J’s lesson at home.



We started reading a book about Friday. I asked opened ended type questions “What Do You Think?”


As we progressed, the book discussed the names of her paintings and the concept of surrealism. As an observation/art activity I printed one of work and asked, “What do you think she was feeling?” or “What makes you think…” “How does the color in the background make you feel that?” (Many of Kahlo’s paintings Hancock vibrant backgrounds.)

On a notecard, I asked her to write what she thinks each object represents. Later we discussed why.


We transitioned a bit into Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou and Nikki Grimes. We focused on illustrations and poem titles to predict what the poem was discussing or how the author was trying to communicate the point of you.

I allowed her to visit a museum and eventually select a painting to observe.


N.J’s at home activities allowed her daughter to think about the words and images. As you are at home with your children, what is working well in your home?

National S.T.E.A.M Day

National S.T.E.A.M Day


National STEAM Day was November 8th. We are providing books and STEAM activities that your Pre-K, Elementary, or Middle Grade reader can do for 21+ days.

Enjoy these stories that feature real world activities and diverse scientists in STEAM. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

Pre-K (Ages 1-3)


100 Easy STEAM Activities, by Andrea Scalzo Yi

This Book has dozens of activities for young thinkers. Below is a list of 5 activities from 100 STEAM that you could do with a 1-3 year old.


  • Indoor Maze :Take streamers and hang them on the wall. Allow your young one to walk in and around.
  • Bubbles Rising: Use Alka-Seltzer and food coloring. Drop the tablet in the water to see the bubbles rise. Make it even more fun, see what other items can float such as popcorn, gummy worms, or raisins.
  • Glue & Food Coloring: Mix together and use as finger paint.
  • Lava Lamp: Fill a bottle with liquids such as water, food coloring, Alka-Selter, even oils. View how these solutions act differently.
  • Mirror Art: Set up different mirrors and watch how they reflect depending on their view. 


For speaking & reading building: Make a list of 5-10 vocabulary words per week on a large piece of paper, strips of paper, or other places so that these words are visible at your home. When performing daily activities: eating, cooking, cleaning, or playing, make sure you point them out and speak about these words each day.


How Many? by Christopher Danielson

Mathematical concepts discussing real-world objects. For example the author has open-ended questions. One page the reader counts whole grape fruits, the next page they are halved, and the next page, there is a spread of additional items to make grapefruit juice. Author displays the beauty in our world and how math is all around us.
Activity: When you have daily items such as clothing, diapers, bottles, or even food. Count the objects and make them halves or quarters to see them in a new mathematical way. 

I Am the Rain-by John Paterson 

A poem of where the reader can discover rain in different environment.
Activity: Water activities-Sink/Float, Bottle Squeeze, Bubbles

Dreaming Up by Christy Hale

Illustrates examples of children building with blocks, dirt, boxes, and more. The following pages display buildings designed by architects. You will discover real images of buildings such as Sclera Pavilion, Paper Tube School, Box House, and More.
Activity: When driving or walking talk about the objects that you see in your community. If your child likes specific buildings in the book, then print or show similar images that you find online.  


ElementaryKindegarten-2nd Grade

Mario and the Hole in the Sky, by Elizabeth Rusch
How A Chemist Saved Our Planet

A curious boy named Mario loved the wonders in chemistry. At a young age, he acquired a chemistry set and studied chemistry as his life’s work. As an adult, he wondered how safe the new chemicals were. His research determined that chlorofluorocarbons or CFS were damaging our Earth. For a decade he spoke about how these emissions were damaging our Earth, and finally changes were made. Today, Molina still works on solutions so that our World will become healthier.
Activity: Learn more about Mario. Do something in your daily life that can better the Earth. 

Experiments with Magnets, by Christine Taylor-Butler
A nonfiction book that describes what scientists do and what a child can do with magnets.

Activity: Use this book and perform magnet experiments. First you will need magnets and objects that attract and do not attract. Don’t forget to discuss the scientific

Jada Jones Rock Star, by Kelly Starling Lyons

A fiction book about a little girl who loves rocks. Jada is having trouble making new friends but still keeps her excitement on discovering new rocks.
Activity: Find a rock and make an art project from it. 

Where’s Rodney? By Carmen Bogan

Rodney is a boy who loves nature. When his teacher wants him to sit. He wants to stand. But when Rodney goes on an outdoor field trip.
Activity: Visit a conservation park in your community. List or name 20 things that you can see during this visit.  

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

Papa is an inventor. He has numerous ideas for building a machine that works underwater. Enjoy the different ideas and iterations that this imaginative father designed so that he could swim with the fish.

Activity: Find an object that you use on a daily basis: spoon, chair, watch, computer, and etc. Just find one object. If possible purchase that object at a thrift store, break it apart and figure out how to make it better.


Elementary: Third-Fourth Grade

Whoosh! by Chris Barton

 The Story of Lonnie Bush, inventor of the Super Soaker

Activity: Download Here


The Girl With the Mind for Math, by Julia Finley Mosca  

A Hidden Figure who worked twice as her male counterparts. Raye Montague was a mathematician. During the time that she lived, Black women were assumed to take roles as laborers. Montague proved them wrong and designed specifications for a navy ship.
Activity: Engineering: Build a model ship from household items: construction paper, toothpicks, bobby pins, tape, and glue. See what you can use to make it float.


Wangari Maathai, by Franck Prevot

Planted 30 Million Trees in 30 years to change the environment in her country.

Activity: Environmental Think of ways on how you can beautify your neighborhood? Make signs to pick up trash, organize pick up trash day with neighbors, talk to city about recycling programs and incentives.


The Best of Times, by Greg Tang
Tang writes a series of math books for Elementary readers. In this book, you can find math riddles to practice multiplication. 

TickTock Banneker’s Clock, by Shana Keller

Benjamin Banneker was an inventor when Black men were legally enslaved.
Activity: Research Benjamin Banneker. Illustrate something about about Banneker using mixed media. 

Dream Builder, by Kelly Starling Lyons
The Story of Architect Philip Freelo

Philip Freelon is a dynamic architect who is unafraid to design bold architecture. His father, Allan Randall Freelon was an artist and taught Philip how to hear and see the beauty around him. Once Freelon graduated from North Carolina State University’s School of Architecture, he wanted Black architects to be included as designers. He designed the “Durham Station Transportation Center,” The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and more.
Activity: Learn more about a building that Freelon designed.


Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Will Allen wanted to grow food in a community. He mobilized people to donate their food scraps, clean, and nurture worms.
Activity: Compost month and recycle for at least 1 month. Do you have less trash or more trash?


Queen of Physics, by Teresa Robeson
How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Wu Chien Shiung was a Chinese born woman. Her parents built a school because girls did not receive the same education as boys did. Her name means “courageous hero.” In everything that Shiung did was courageous: attending school far from her parents, protesting before WWII started, and made a physics discovery on Beta Decay.
Activity: Read about 5 more prominent historical and modern day women in physics. Create a video slideshow about each woman. 


Fun With Multiplication, by Lorenzo McLellan

A fun storyboard with mathematical multiplication problems. This is a practice book where readers can practice matching pictures, guessing from patterns, and more.

Activity: Make your own math multiplication problems, illustrate your problems.


Buzzing With Questions, by Janice N Harrington
The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner
Charles Henry Turner studied animal’s behavior. He found joy in examining ants, moths, and even bees. One experiment determined that bees see color. Turner’s work was recognized throughout the science community. He did face racial discrimination, but did not let the problems of the world keep his work ignored. Turner taught the community, and worked tirelessly to teach others to “go and find out.”
Activity: Conduct an experiment using the Scientific Method. If you have a pet, involve them. If you have family, ask to study a specific behavior in your Scientific Method. 


The Vast Wonder of the World, by Melina Mangal
Biologist Ernest Everett Just
Ernest Everett Just was born in 1883 when the Civil Rights of Black individuals were not considered. Ernest Just had an inquisitive mind and found the importance of studying creatures such as: sea urchins, sand dollars, and star fish in their natural environment. Ernest Just received high honors from the NAACP and also worked at Howard University. His work on cell discovery and fertilization was new and controversial. Just left us with these remarkable words, “Life is exquisitely a time-thing, like music.”
Activity: Learn more about Ernest Everett Just’s where he studied Biology.


Starstruck, by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
The Cosmic Journey of Neil DeGrasse Tyson

A biographical book about Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He was not only passionate about science but enjoyed other things such as wrestling and dance. Today Tyson shares his love for the stars to the world. Learn about his marvelous story.
Activity: Create images using glowing in the dark crayons of your ideal night sky. Have your friends join and see if you can view another way of viewing the stars. Learn about the Constellations.


Middle Grade: Fifth Grade-Sixth Grade


Urban Biologist, by Kari CornellAbout Biologist Danielle Lee

Danielle Lee is a Biologist. She earned her PhD and shares her love for science in her blog Urban Science. Lee has always been curious about the outdoors and animal behavior. Today, she researches African giant pouched rats. She observes these rats to determine how they can sniff out mines. Lee has spent a part of her life sharing science to young people, and she has a passion for science and seeing that other youth soar in science as well.
Activity: Discover Danielle Lee’s website. Discover the different categories of Biology and decide which categories that you would like to learn more about. 



Computers, by Christine Taylor Butler


Have you ever wondered who computed the first computers? Why were computers started in the first place? This book provides those facts and even more. The word computer derived from the people who had to make computational actions and instances.
Activity: Computers need electricity and circuits to work. Perform a circuit art craft here.



How Fashion Designers Use Math, by John C. Bertoletti


Making the perfect jacket, blouse, pants, or masks takes the right measurements and precision. Individuals who design and develop clothing have to use math to ensure consumers are pleased. This book shares the different stages on when math from purchasing of the fabric, shapes, measurements, and fitting.
Activity: If interested, watch a video on how to sew an object. List the different sizes and measurements needed to construct the item. 


Who Did it First? 50 Scientists, Artists, and Mathematicians Who Revolutionized the World, by Julie Leung


A collection of scientists, innovators, and artists from the past and present. Some individuals are unknown and have made a tremendous contribution to our society. 


Activity: Learn about about specific innovators that you like. 


A Math Journey Through the Human Body, by Anne Rooney


A nonfiction text displaying how math is a part of our daily lives. You can think of math on your height, skin, skeletal system, and digestive system. Math is everywhere, it just takes time to think about it. 


Activity: When visiting the grocery store, write mathematical equations (fractions or multiplication) about the food in your grocery bag. 


Unsung Heroes of Technology, by Todd Kortemeir


James West improved the microphone on cell phones and has over 40 patents. Katherine Johnson calculated paths for space rockets. Grace Hopper invented a code so that computers could “talk” to each other. This book Unsung Heroes of Technology highlights 12 incredible people who gave the world better access to technology. When we think about tech, we think about the CEOs or CTOs. However, draftsmen, engineers, mathematicians, and many more people brought these innovations to our hands. These individuals did not succeed without struggle, and their stories should be heard.
Activity: You can find more about each Unsung Heroes Here


It’s A Numbers Game! Basketball, by James Buckley Jr.


Discover how physics, time , measurement, and many other math principles are involved in basketball. Basketball is a sport, but there is much involved in making it what it is.
Activity: Download this Math Stats Activity Here


Changing the Equation, by Tonya Bolden


50+ US Black Women in STEM


A holistic book of Black women who trail-blazed when the world did not view them as rightful humans to participate. For instance, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler earned a MD in March 1864. This was a time when laws were being written to end slavery. Many other women in Genetics, Aerospace Engineering, Geology, and so many more.
Activity: Discover a woman scientist who is living, and write her a letter or Email (with an adult) to learn more about her field.


Ava Lovelace Cracks the Code, Rebel Girls Series


Ava is from the 19th century. In her time period, girls were not encouraged to study science and math. However, she was educated in math. She was introduced to the “Difference Machine.” This machine allowed humans to compute things faster. Lovelace is considered to be the first computer programmer because she was able to write out every detail and actions of the machine. The series “Rebel Girls” brings Ava Lovelace’s voice and personality to readers.


Activity: Create a flowchart that displays how it works from beginning to end. You can use the computer, television, your favorite toy, or anything else.



Reading Graphic Novel March by John Lewis

Reading Graphic Novel March by John Lewis

  • The Graphic Novel series: March displayed critical moments during the Civil rights era. 

  • John Lewis and the illustrator use the language and images to highlight the: Drama, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Visual Literacy

The trilogy of the book March is a graphic novel written by the words of our former Congressman John Lewis. Making this a graphic novel illustrated shared the experiences from the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), sit-ins, punishments, integrations, and other civil rights activists such as A. Philip Randolph, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer Classroom, and a host of others. The benefits of this book, March, in graphic novel form is that readers can see the joy, sadness, danger, and humanity of what the individuals experienced. Lewis leaves the pain and suffering in this book as well as the triumphs. You learn how his “good trouble” inspired other individuals to speak against the injustices that occurred to Black Americans. The humanity of this book was real where one could see the children who were hosed down, the police officers who lied in their offices, and the leaders who spoke to the United States President. The participants in the real life story were speaking out to become a part of America’s dream and freedom is what they demanded.

Below are a few examples on how a teen can comprehend the graphic novel March.

Graphic novels rely on the artwork to tell the story. When the author explains a type of action or scene, the artwork compliments. Graphic novels provide less words but more visual symbolism. Your eyes control what you are comprehending along with the words.


Graphic novels have word balloons, and sound words and motion. “Lines going diagonal indicate movement. When we see lines moving horizontally we feel safe because,” Molly Bang. If illustrations are close to the ground, then the reader visualizes a sense of stability. However when things move up, we feel like we are flying and moving away from the ground.

In Book One from March many of the boxes were horizontal. This is because the authors were sharing the back story of how John Lewis gathered the confidence to speak out. Additionally, the illustrator used full pages to demonstrate a new setting or a transition. There were very few diagonal lines and many of characters and objects flowed left to right. The dramatic scenes  occurred when John Lewis and other activists were thrown in jail. Dramatic scenes included slanted lines, and even hands twisted around the jail bars.



Visual artists use icons to illustrate their idea. If the icon is a car, dog, or cat, the reader has to determine the personality of the character, the type of car they want it to be. According to Scott McCloud, the icons he uses create concepts in someone’s head. When they read the picture they “give me life by reading this book.” Their understanding is becoming stronger because they are making a deeper understanding of the word clues and the visual cues correspond to it.

Example: Book Two March had multiple stories occurring. One story was John Lewis and the SNCC organizing in the 1960s, the other story was Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. This book’s point was to highlight the workings and actions of the sit-ins and peaceful protests. A pivotal story was displaying the March on Washington to get the attention to American citizens. John Lewis was able to speak, and in comparison so was Barack Obama because he was appointed the United States president. For the historical references, one can go back in time and view shape and size the radio, the 1960s model Greyhound bus, the corded telephone, and even the smoke from the violence. Even the faces of Dr. Martin Luther King and John Lewis were distinct, and one could see the anger and tensions on their faces from the illustrations. The frustrations and experiences of the student activists and many others were catastrophic, but they were still determined for a fundamental change. The words and images complimented one another to deepen the understanding of their human experience.


Word usage and word font size and font changes breathe additional life into graphic novels. Bolded text emphasizes text versus plain text. This bolded text is emphasized so the author can guide you to what they want you to know. There are also instances of italicized words. You might have to pick and choose which graphic novel can expand your vocabulary.

If you read March, Book Three, one should be used to the different vocabulary usages. Common words were Demonstrators, Revolution, Agitator, Equality, Arrests, Segregation, Communist, Democracy, Voting, and Nonviolent. There are many words that display the complexities of that time. There were men and women signing all throughout this graphic novel, and whenever there was singing the words became cursive. Even when they quoted spiritual text or had to narrate a page, the words were visually different. This book needed words to elevate the images, and the images elevated the vocabulary.

Visual Literacy

The artistic elements of shadow, perspective, color, shapes, and layout combine to create stunning images in graphic novels. Artists who illustrate these images take careful planning on. Why is visual literacy important? According to Jon Sciezska, children’s author.” Kids today are wired and stimulated in different ways—they’re more visual.” Children view images on their tablets, cell phones, computers, video games, and the natural world. Children are constantly exposed to images, but they need to understand how to analyze what is going on in the image. They need to be taught how to visually understand.-author experiences can be inferred from viewing the character and sizes, artistic relates to understanding with an underlying message. Graphic novels and comic books are another form of media intended for visual interpretation.

So if you want to read a historical graphic novel, March, I encourage you to read it with your young reader. Yes the words in this book are sometimes difficult to comprehend, and images are painful. However, this is a part of America’s story. It is a story that displays the pain from decades before and decades after. Don’t just read the words, utilize some techniques above and read the images to understand their perspective and experiences.

If you would like to read the Trilogy of March Click Here