Sunday, July 18, 2010

The hunt is on! - Nonfiction Monday

"Research is a formalized curiosity.  It is poking around and prying with a purpose."  Zora Neale Hurston.

Ahhh, research…Can’t you just hear the students in your class hum in excited anticipation?  Oh boy, a research assignment… Can’t wait!  Right, maybe in some parallel universe.

I love research and always feel really badly about those students (university students becoming teachers who one day may have teach their own students research - oh, my) who become totally stressed and frustrated when it comes to having to conduct research.

So, this post isn’t going to be about new, fantastic strategies on how to do research or how to teach research, but begins a campaign to show students how much fun it is, how exciting it can be, and how relevant to everyday life (and not limited to just getting through school.)

A few really interesting books have come to my attention that have turned topics I know little about into gripping, fascinating mystery-like hunts for information.  These books demonstrate that research  has a purpose as well as a process.  Several of them read as real life mysteries.  And everyone loves a mystery, right?

Here are a few titles I’d strongly recommend:

1621 a new look at Thanksgiving / Catherine O’Neill and Margaret Bruchac (394.2649 GrN 2001)

-broadens our perspective of this national holiday

The Anne Frank case: Simon Wiesenthal’s search for the truth / Susan Rubin Goldman (940.5318 RUA 2009)
-a challenge is set to find the man responsible for the arrest of Anne, her family and others living in the Annex to help prove that Nazis were responsible for millions of deaths.

The boy who harnessed the wind: creating currents of electricity and hope / William Kamkwamba (621.312 KAB 2009)
-a young man with a desire to improve  life for people in his village with access to a small library and an incredible ability to create and overcome obstacles. Talk about research being relevant to everyday life!

Did Fleming rescue Churchill?: a research puzzle / James Giblin (823 G355D FIC)
-fictional account of a boy set to write a research essay at school who wants to use an 'interesting' anecdote - but is it true or not? And then what to do with it.

Hana’s suitcase: a true story / Karen Levine (940.5318 LEH 2002)
-a modern day hunt for the story behind an artifact (suitcase with Hana's name) sent by the Auschwitz Holocaust Museum to Tokyo.

The hive detectives: chronicle of a honey bee catastrophe  / Loree Griffin Burns (Scientists in the field series)
-researchers to save the day as they look to discover the reasons why bees are dying in droves

Left for dead: a young man’s search for justice for the USS Indianopolis / Peter Nelson (940.545973 NEL 2002)
-awesome set of circumstances where the movie Jaws motivates a young man to discover the real story behind an American WWII incident.

The mysteries of Beethoven’s hair / Russell Martin (780.92 MAM 2009)
-again, amazing accounting of the history of a lock of Mr. Bs hair that provides new information about the cause of his death.

The secret of the yellow death: a true story of medical sleuthing / Suzanne Jurmain (614.541 JUS 2009)
-we know how this ends, but it doesn't matter as the tension builds when doctors, scientists and volunteers place themselves at risk to discover the cause and antedote for yellow fever.

Tracking trash: flotsam, jetsam and the science of ocean motion / Loree Griffin Burns (Scientists in the field series) (551.462 BUT 2007)
-there's a lot of crap floating around in our oceans (besides oil) and this scientist takes us along to discover how things end up where they do.

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Roberta said...

This looks like an interesting list. I have read several of the books you list, and they were good, so I can't wait to try some of the others.

Nice topic!

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks Roberta. Are there any other books that you'd recommend written in a similar vein? I'm always interested in new titles.

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