With nonfiction books for kids, the challenge is to create a book that is not just informative but captivating and entertaining as well. Here are twelve fantastic new books for children that do all three. Since the topics range from the right to vote to the lives of real princesses, I’m sure you’ll find a wonderful book for your child’s interests.
Nonfiction Books for Kids
Lillian’s Right To Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Blueish-tinted illustrations capture the somber mood of Lillian’s memories in this historical nonfiction picture book. Lilian’s memories begin with her great-great-grandparents who were slaves, sold and separated from each other. As Lilian remembers all people who struggled to gain equal rights, all gone before her, she walks slowly up a steep hill to cast her vote. Gaining the right to vote was a journey, somewhat like a steep climb up a hill. Added to: Best Biographies for Black History Month
Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti
Learn about cotton and how it goes from the field to machines, to spinners, and then to clothes. Read about yarn how it starts from sheep and then as it becomes a sweater. Overall, I found this picture book fascinating — filled with so much information!
Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Warm illustrations meet beautiful writing in this new picture book about the warm-wet rainforest. Count along as you learn about rainforest animals and plants. Count 6 roaring howler monkeys, 62 agoutis, or 512 Rusty Wandering Spiders. It’s a beautiful book with the just the perfect amount of text (not too much).
Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them by Terri Farley, photographs by Melissa Farlow
I enjoyed this book but my kids weren’t drawn to it — I think because it’s huge and there’s a lot of text. But for horse lovers, this book might be a great way to motivate reading. No doubt about it, the stories included are very heart-warming and informative. It would be a great coffee-table book as well.
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins, illustrated by Robin Page
In step by step clarity through images and words, you’ll learn how animal hunters capture and eat their prey. Watch as humpback whales trap and gulp fish, how a capuchin repels insects by rubbing millipedes on their fur, and how crocodiles catch a meal — YIKES! (Plus, lots more.) It’s another nonfiction picture book win from Steve Jenkins.
Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan
Sir Cumference’s son, Round 2, counts and adds everything. Round 2 counts, rounds, and adds. Sometimes he counts the weapons, sometimes soldiers. Sometimes he uses a number line aka. a measuring tape. Round 2 uses rounding to ten in order to make addition easier. Doing so helps his father win the battle against Sir Wantsalot. This is a fun addition (get it?!) to the Sir Cumference picture book series.
Austin, Lost in America A Geography Adventure by Jef Czekaj
A lonely pet store dog escapes to search for a forever family. He travels the United States, searching and learning more about each state. Surprisingly, despite the large number of states and information presented, the author makes this nonfiction adventure for kids entertaining.
Goodnight Hockey (Sports Illustrated Kids) by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Christina Forshay
At the city’s outdoor arena, the hockey action is fast-paced and easy to follow through the book’s narration and illustrations. And when it’s game over, the kids happily say good-night. I’m impressed at how well Goodnight Hockey introduces young children to the game basics.
Search and Spot Animals! by Laura Ljungkvist
I’m SO in love with this nonfiction picture book! Instead of an overwhelming mashup of illustrations, Ljungkvist’s illustrations are simple, clean, and not too crowded. For example, on a bright yellow background, look at the purple and blue chickens to find a dozen eggs. Or, on a blue background, search and spot 10 dragonflies sitting on blue lily pads next to green frogs. Lovely.
Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars by Christine Seifert
I read this nonfiction book aloud to my kids — it was SO fun because it prompted great discussion and interaction. They couldn’t believe that people would make up such outrageous lies. Learn these incredible wild whoppers — from people you’ve heard of like Charles Ponzi to people you’ve never heard of like George Psalmanazar who convinced people he was a native from his made-up island of Formosa. It’s book best for middle grade to YA readers.
The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
My daughters and I love this fascinating book. It gives us a glimpse into the lives of a variety of international princesses. From historical princesses like Theodora of the Byzantine Empire to current princesses like Sikhanyiso of Swaziland or Victoria of Sweden, each has her own section including basic facts, cool facts, and big achievements. Special sections on royal pets, royal duties, hairdos, princes, and fashion add extra juicy tidbits for kids to enjoy.
Untamed The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey, forward by Jane Goodall
This is not your average biography for kids with small font and ugly black and white photos. No, it’s so much better! Untamed is an excellent depiction of Jane Goodall’s life with kid-friendly language using kid-appealing layouts of colorful photos. Interesting insets throughout describe tips for kids and information such as sign language. I love the Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end with some of the significant chimps in Jane’s life. I also found it really interesting to learn how this English girl read about Africa as a child and fell in love with it.
All of these books have been added to my book lists recommendations by ages.