Best Nonfiction Children’s Books of 2017
Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Beautifully designed and illustrated, Little Ladies shares 40 one-page biographies of inspiring African-American women. I can’t believe how many new women I learned about from this book! Women like Marcelite Harris, Mamie Phipps Clark, and Phillis Wheatley. It’s a superb, inspiring must-read book.
Big Machines The Story of Virginia Lee Burton (How Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel and Friends Came to Life) by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by John Rocco
Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers by Steve Newberry (ages 7+)
Don’t miss this totally hilarious picture book about… GRAMMAR? Yes, and it’s awesome! Teachers and homeschoolers, you’ll want this in your repertoire of picture books. These four punctuation mark friends want to play together but what should they do? They all have different ideas which will crack you up. The author makes grammar fun and appealing.
The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illuatrated by Jeannette Winter (ages 8 – 12)
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai (ages 4 – 12)
MEMOIR / GROWTH MINDSET / SOCIAL JUSTICE
When she was younger, Malala dreamed of the things she’d do if she had a magic pencil. She’d erase war, poverty, and hunger. Then she would draw girls and boys together as equals. She stopped dreaming of the pencil and worked hard at school. Soon she began writing about her beliefs. Even after bad men tried to stop her, Malala wrote, using her words as the magic to spread a message of hope. Beautifully illustrated and inspiring, this story shares Malala’s ideals with the youngest of readers. Her story is an important example of growth mindset and social justice in action. (Added to: 30 Biographies That Encourage a Growth Mindset.)
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers (ages 4 – 12)
As you might expect from Eggers, it’s FUNNY — I laughed out loud while reading — but it’s also interactive, informative, and insightful. In fact, this amazing book builds to a poignant and timely message about the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. Eggers points out that the statue’s right foot is raised. He wants us to notice that the Statue is moving. She is an immigrant, too. Her job of welcoming immigrants is active, never ending. Don’t you think our country needs this book now more than ever? (Added to: Children’s Books about Immigration.)
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (ages 4 – 12)
My First Book of Soccer A Rookie Book (Sports Illustrated Kids) (ages 4+)
Where Will I Live by Rosemary McCarney (ages 4+)
Ultimate Dino-Pedia Second Edition by “Dino” Don Lessem, illustrated by Franco Tempesta (ages 7+)
What first struck me about this incredible dinosaur tome, is the incredible illustrations of dinosaurs — illustrations that aren’t skeletons. Now kids who are interested in dinosaurs can see what they actually looked like — all 600 of the species in this book. Along with the illustration, each dinosaur page shows how to pronounce their name, facts, and information, often with photo inserts of bones and paleontologist reports. The back of the book includes a dino dictionary listing names, meanings, geological age, where it lived, fossils, length, and group. It’s incredible!! Kids who love dinosaurs NEED this book. It’s the one-stop field guide to everything dino.
Baby Animals (Animal Planet) by Dorothea DePrisco (ages 7+)
The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry by Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (ages 5+)
HISTORY / FALCONRY
The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler (ages 6 – 9)
BUGS! Animal Planet Amazing Animal Facts Chapter Books by James Buckley, Jr. (ages 6 -9)
BUGS / BEGINNING CHAPTER BOOK
Two Truths and a Lie by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber (ages 8 – 12)
This book is GENIUS! It’s an impressive dare really for kids to read and figure out what is true and what is a lie. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how the authors engage the readers brains in such a way! Who can resist their dare? The premise promises to cement knowledge of real and false because no answers are given. Readers will be reading, thinking deeply and researching while they’re immersed in the book… The conversational tone in which this book makes the reading flow smoothly. That, plus the addition of many illustrations and photographs make this one hard-to-put down nonfiction middle grade book. Teachers, take note!! Two Truths and a Lie is a must buy 2017 favorite nonfiction book for elementary and middle school kids.
Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-out, Fun-tastic Facts
This is like the Weird But True books only on a larger scale. You’ll look at full color, incredible photographs and read cool facts and stats about tons of things — hearts, sea creatures, chocolate, and Halloween. It’s un-put-downable! Like did you know “The FDA allows up to 8 insect parts in the average chocolate bar“? Or that “Some giant jellyfish have tentacles that could stretch one-third the length of a football field.” Or that “Chiroptophobia is the fear of bats“. Try to say that 3 times fast. This would be a good gift book, don’t you think?
Science Comics: Bats Learning to Fly by Falynn Koch
Factual information is embedded within this story about a lost little bat who observes a tour group in the desert learning about bats from a tour guide. When the little bat gets hurt, he’s taken to a wild animal hospital where he meets other kinds of bats. At the hospital, the bats lively conversations help the little brown bat learn more about bats — what they eat, how they fly, different species, echolocation, and where they live. SO well done!