Best Nonfiction Children’s Books of 2017

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I can’t tell you how much I love a good nonfiction book. And there were so many incredible titles in 2017. The books below are the best of the year; nonfiction books that engage, teach, and inspire.

Don’t miss: Best Picture Books of 2017 and Best Chapter Books of 2017.

Best Nonfiction Children’s Books of 2017

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
BIOGRAPHIES
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.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017 
 Noah Webster’s Fighting Words by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Mircea Catusanu
BIOGRAPHY
I love this book so much! The biography is an important piece of American history that kids should know. Did you know Webster tried to get 6 new letters to be added to the alphabet? The narrative includes “edits” from Noah Webster himself which make this lively story even more interesting. The illustrations are absolutely perfect — in style and in color. Bravo!

 

Tonatiuh shares the story of a dedicated ballet dancer who discovers the beauty of folkloric dances from the different regions of Mexico. She learns them all, sharing them with the world in performances by her dance company, El Ballet Folklórico. Gorgeous folkloric illustrations enhance each page’s details; I want to frame them all, they’re so exquisite This is a wonderful tribute to one of my favorite dance companies and the dancer visionary who made it all happen.

 

One of the best picture book biographies of 2017! Jinnee creates wonderful drawings and stories for her two young sons. You’ll probably want to reread her books before and after this biography. You’ll learn how books like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, Maybelle, The Cable Car, and The Little House came to life. Reading this story gives insight into an artist’s creative process, the process behind writing and illustrating a children’s story.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017 
Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers
by Steve Newberry (ages 7+)
GRAMMAR
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.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
The Secret Project
by Jonah Winter, illuatrated by Jeannette Winter (ages 8 – 12)
U.S. HISTORY / ATOMIC BOMB / ETHICS
Teachers, this historical fiction book needs to be included in your classrooms! It narrates the secret work scientists did in the desert accompanied by incredible, evocative illustrations. It contrasts the shadowy figures making the secret “Gadget” with the Hopi Indians carving beautiful wood dolls and the peaceful desert mountains and mesas, cacti, coyotes, and prairie dogs. The scientists secretly drive “Gadget” to another location, countdown, and we see from the illustrations a huge glowing mushroom cloud. The next page is all black. And that’s the end. Discuss.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
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.)

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
Her Right Foot
by Dave Eggers (ages 4 – 12)
IMMIGRATION
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.)

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner children's books about animals and nature
Over and Under the Pond
by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (ages 4 – 12)
NATURAL WORLD
Extra tall blue and earth-tone illustrations show a boy and his mother above the pond in a small rowboat. As they travel home, we see what else is on the top of the pond as well as the detailed ecosystem below. Not only will you enjoy the surprises of pond life, you’ll be learning as well. I love the contrast of the people with natural world, gorgeous, serene illustrations, and gentle text.

 

I just love this series of introductory sports picture books. The layout is fantastic with eye-popping photos on colorful backgrounds and large text that is just right for young readers. You’ll learn about the entire game from the teams to the rules and moves. And, both men and women are represented in the photos which is awesome!

 

best nonfiction books of 2017
Where Will I Live
by Rosemary McCarney (ages 4+)
REFUGEES
Large photographs pair with short sentences and phrases showing people whose homes are no longer safe, fleeing to safety. But where will they live?  In a tent? Will it be hot and dry? Will there be friends? Questions will make kids understand the uncertainty refugees live with as they look for a new home. Photographs help kids see this is happening to real children in real life situations. Use this book to help your own children or students to empathize with children who are refugees. It’s really quite perfect for younger readers, not to mention important and timely. (Added to: Children’s Books about Immigration.)

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
Ultimate Dino-Pedia Second Edition
by “Dino” Don Lessem, illustrated by Franco Tempesta (ages 7+)
DINOSAURS
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.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
Baby Animals
 
(Animal Planet) by Dorothea DePrisco (ages 7+)
ANIMAL WORLD
Gorgeous photos and interesting facts make this one of those books you can easily flip through to find the photos and interesting facts about young animals that you want to read. Plus, the cuteness factor is off the charts!

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry
by Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (ages 5+)
HISTORY / FALCONRY
Fascinating!! Danna Smith tells us about falconry from the perspective of a little girl whose father is a falconer. With this narrative, each page contains a small bit of interesting factual information. For example, on the page showing and describing how she and her father use a hood with fancy feathers so the hawk isn’t scared of the castle’s soldiers, there’s also a text box with more information about a hawk’s hood. The illustrations have just the right historical feel, too.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
The Hidden Life of a Toad
by Doug Wechsler (ages 6 – 9)
TOADS
There is so much to love about this nonfiction picture book. The text is really basic —  not too hard for early elementary grades. The book sequentially shows in text and photos the development of a toad — which is fascinating. It’s longer than I would prefer but I think kids will stay engaged since the changes in the toad are quite profound.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
BUGS! Animal Planet Amazing Animal Facts Chapter Books
by James Buckley, Jr. (ages 6 -9)
BUGS / BEGINNING CHAPTER BOOK
I really like this book and the series. The books are in full color with photographs, illustrations, and kid-friendly design. The text size itself is perfect for elementary readers, it’s slightly bigger than typical nonfiction books of this length with decent white space in between the lines and around it. I’m also impressed with the way this book series delivers factual information without dumbing it down or making it too difficult to read.

 

nonfiction books for kids 2017
Two Truths and a Lie
by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber (ages 8 – 12)
NATURAL WORLD
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.

 

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
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?

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
Science Comics: Bats Learning to Fly
by Falynn Koch
BATS
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!

Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017

Books for Tweens Who Love Animalsbooks for middle grade readers who like animals

Children’s Book About Pets
children's picture books about pets

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3 Responses

  1. This is a great list. There are a few here I haven’t read yet. I added them to my reading list. Thanks!

  2. Always love your book review lists!

    I’m headed to the library for several of these! Thank you.

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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