Looking for a great non fiction book that will help your kids learn something new? From biographies to world history, there’s a wealth of good books here.
New for 2017! Non Fiction Books for Kids
Busy People Librarian by Lucy M. George, illustrated by Ando Twin (ages 4 – 8)
I’m partial to any book that celebrates the library like this does! It’s time for story time. Rita, the librarian, helps everyone feel welcome and interested — today’s a birthday celebration for the library. First they read several books about parties and then the kids share a birthday cake. Then Rita helps Evan find a book about rocket ships and space. Learn about what a librarian does as well as other busy people that librarians work with such as authors, teachers, and parents.
Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Barretta, illustrated by Frank Morrison (ages 4 – 8)
Kids should all learn the story of Muhammad Ali because his determination and grit are so inspiring. And to think, it all started with a stolen bicycle! Read how a police officer got Ali into boxing as well as about his never waning confidence and the grueling workouts. Superbly done.
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Floyd Cooper(ages 6 – 10)
Myers expertly captures Frederick Douglass’ life from his desire to learn even though he was a slave child to his brutal beatings, the influence of free black sailors, his escape to the North, and his passionate fight against slavery and for social reform.
Soldier Song A True Story of the Civil War by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Gilbert Ford (ages 6 – 10)
Soldier fighting in the Civil War both thought they were on the right side whether North or South. But, one experience with a shared song of longing for home brought the sides together if just for a short time.
Farm Friends Escape! (Animal Planet Adventures #2) by Gail Herman (ages 6 – 9)
I really liked this beginning chapter book. It’s a story plus non fiction information sprinkled throughout. As we follow Luke and Sarah who are running the petting zoo for their grandparents, we also learn about life, animals, and crops on a farm. It’s very well done!
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols (ages 6 – 9)
Siblings Maddie and Atticus can’t figure out who is dumping trash everywhere. And when they rescue a baby dolphin entangled in trash, they know they must get to the bottom of this mystery. Full-color photographs with information about dolphins, marine life, and more add in bonus non fiction information for readers make this an interesting combination of fiction and expository text.
Escape from Alcatraz: The Mystery of the Three Men Who Escaped From the Rock by Eric Braun (ages 8 – 12)
What an interesting book! The author puts together the background and plans of each of the men who escaped from the inescapable prison of Alcatraz. Photographs throughout add realism to the historical events.
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Emma Carlson Berne (ages 8 – 12)
Memorable, gripping short stories tell about some of the 10,000 children who escaped the Nazis without their parents, traveled to England, and lived with host families until the war was over. Some were reunited with families while others were not, but they were all saved.
Superman Science: The Real-World Science Behind Superman’s Powers by Agnieszka Biskup and Tammy Enz (ages 8 – 12)
The authors found a great hook to make science cool — superman! Learn about flight, sight, speed, and strength all within the framework of superman’s superhero powers. Text boxes accompanied by color photographs, illustrations, and backgrounds make this a digestible and interesting nonfiction science book.
The Book of Wildly Spectacular Sports Science 54 All-Star Experiments by Sean Connolly (ages 8 – 12)
Organized by by categories of sports (bat and ball, indoor, winter, outside, rackets, and aquatic), each entry talks about the sport and then adds in the scientific elements, finishing off with an experiment. Take for example, “Why Does Pumping Up a Basketball Make it Bouncier?” talks about different ball sports and then gives you a cool bouncing experiment to try where you compare different bounce heights to their inflated pounds per square inch. I LOVE the ideas and lessons in this book and can’t wait to try some with my kids.
The Tapir Scientists Saving South America’s Largest Mammal by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop (ages 10 – 16)
Best for upper elementary or middle school, the writing in The Tapir Scientist is excellent, making for an enjoyable read. Montgomery shares about the scientists who are studying the tapirs and makes their work, their struggles, and their successes interesting to readers. You’ll get an in depth look at what the life for a scientist is like, the day to day experience.
Totally Amazing Facts About Military Vehicles by Cari Meister (ages 8 – 12)
I’m not interested in this topic at all but I know kids who are. For them, this book will be a gold mine of cool facts and information. And my kids and I LOVED this series’ book Wacky Facts About History.
Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
Once I started reading, I discovered how much there is to LOVE about this book! First, there are essays with life lessons. I particularly remember the story of LeBron James moving back to his hometown. Then, there are quotes from famous athletes and artists along with the Rules written by Kwame Alexander. The one that stuck out to me the most was Rule #30, “There is no single formula for winning but you must have a game plan” accompanied by the quote “I never worry about the problem. I worry about the solution.” – Shaquille O’Neal. But imagine reading this with kids, each child will find something that will stand out. I envision this book being gifted to teenagers and being used for leadership, writing, emotional intelligence, sports, or reading classes. It’s a powerful book!
Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Skillful storytelling mixed with the occasional illustration and documents transports readers into Mildred and Richard Love’s lives in this must-read, exceptional book based on their true story. Written in contrasting first person prose, follow along as the couple meet and fall in love during the 1950s, have children, and are forced to leave their home because their marriage (between a black woman and white man) is illegal in their home state of Virginia. The narrative powerfully evokes the multitude of emotions that the couple go through — hope, hopelessness, love, and homesickness, just to name a few. Mildred asks the ACLU for help with their case and although it takes many years, their case goes before the Supreme Court and they win! (There is some reference to sex since Mildred gets pregnant quickly in the relationship.)
Based on the demographic of who watches Doctor Who, this book seems more suited to teen readers and avid fans who’ve seen the show and like the Doctor’s quirky sense of humor. Each of the historical episodes or people mentioned include the doctor’s colorful commentary written in his own handwriting plus stories from his Tardis adventures (like when the Terileptil attacked around the time of the Great Fire of London or how he was married to Queen Elizabeth.) I like it, and I love the strong narrator’s voice. But I am a fan of the series so it’s an easy win for me.