Monday, July 21, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Two Tales of Ben

Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions for Benjamin Franklin
Written and illustrated by Gene Barretta
Henry Holt, 2006

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
Written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer
Harper Collins, 2003

Recently I wrote about another book I used in my electricity unit in fourth grade science. In Virginia, fourth graders have to know about Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Michael Faraday and their contributions to electricity. I have been using Schanzer’s book for a few years, but this year I discovered a new book about Ben Franklin.

Both of these books cover what my students really have to know: 1) that Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning was really electricity in his kite experiment, and 2) that he invented the lightning rod which protected buildings from damage and fires from lightning.

Now and Ben talks about how things we use today are things that Ben Franklin invented. So many things we use today began with Ben. Barretta sets up the book by saying “Now…” (insert one of the inventions we use today) and “Ben” (insert how Ben Franklin created this). The text is simple and short, but still goes through many of the inventions and contributions that we know Franklin for.

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning actually covers some of the same material, but it spends a little more time on Franklin and his experiments with electricity. Schanzer goes into detail about the kite experiment, the lightning rod, but also the way that people used to perform electrifying tricks—actually shocking people.

Both books are very light in tone. They are humorous to read and are nothing like reading a textbook. They present the information in a very interesting way.

This would be another great pair of books to use with kids to do “Text-to-Text Connections.”

Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day.


Charlotte said...

These look good--I will look for them! Thanks.

Lubna said...

I came across your blog as over the past few days I have been surfing the net for blogs written by children’s authors, hoping for tips and inspiration. I will shortly be volunteering at a tiny school in the slum area of Bangalore, India. Story telling will be one of my activities. However, story books and story telling will be a new concept here, so I am a bit nervous.
I am so glad that you and other children’s authors write these wonderful books and help in spreading JOY and knowledge.