I’ve deliberated and chosen my favorite nonfiction children’s books of 2022 with the criteria of excellent writing, an interesting topic, eye-catching illustrations or designs, and all-around engagement.
I love nonfiction books, and so do kids! But, they need to read MORE in nonfiction — to keep learning and practicing reading for information.
Every year the nonfiction children’s books continue to grow with more fabulous options. I read as many as I can–and of the books I’ve read, here are my top picks.
As always, I include many of these titles in my STEM Gift Guide for Kids.
Best Children’s Nonfiction Books of 2022
Listen to the Language of Trees: A Story of How Forest Communicate Underground by Tera Kelley, illustrated by Marie Hermansson
In a busy forest of plants and animals, a squirrel grabs a pinecone and buries it. In that pinecone hangs a seed. The little seed listens to the trees talk to each other through their roots. And a giant tree sends the little seed nourishment. Beautiful, descriptive writing with action verbs shows the seedling and trees waiting, watching, and communicating.
Fiona the Fruit Bat by Dan Riskin, illustrated by Rachel Qiuqi
I love this mesmerizing story of a young fruit bat who is ready to take her first flight–and doesn’t understand why she needs to listen. Listen to what? As Fiona explores the world, she begins to understand how echolocation helps her hear where she is. I like the way the illustrations go from dark to light and the great example of growth mindset.
Blood! Not Just a Vampire Drink by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Shawna J.C. Tenney
The little vampire works at the Smoothie Shop where he tries to make the Count understand that blood isn’t for drinking, that it belongs in the human cardiovascular system. He explains about the heart and tubes and cells–and it’s a fantastic way to teach readers about blood!
Dazzlin’ Dolly by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Exceptional writing with a strong narrative voice, Dolly Parton grows up with determination to achieve her dream of being a singer. She overcomes stage fright, performs on the weekends (despite her Daddy’s disapproval), and moves to Nashville after high school. Kids will love this interesting biography about the queen of country music!
Bessie the Motorcycle Queen by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Charlot Kristensen
Lyrical, poetic writing and lush, inviting illustrations tell about an independent Black woman named Bessie, a stunt-riding, long-distance motorcycle rider in the 1920s. Bessie loves traveling on her motorcycle throughout the U.S., where she meets mostly curious and kind people, except for in the south with its Jim Crow segregation, meaning she has to be careful about where to get gas and where to stop. Nevertheless, Bessie loves her life on the road and flips a coin to decide where to travel next.
Good Eating The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley, illustrated by Dan Tavis
Written in the second-person point of view, this picture book speaks directly to you, a krill. You grow from an oval, then get eyes and legs, keep growing, and constantly swim– only to be eaten eventually by whales. Engaging writing in a surprisingly delightful and enlightening little story.
Marcel’s Masterpiece: How a Toilet Shaped the History of Art by Jeff Mack
Kids will love this exceptional story about Marcel Duchamp, who took a urinal and called it art. He didn’t mind that many people argued whether it was art or not because he was happy that it got people to think. Back matter explains the DaDa movement. Duchamp, and other modern artists. Cut-out letters in dialogue bubbles and collage art will appeal to readers.
Pizza: A Slice of History by Greg Pizzoli
Pizza fans, check out these tasty tidbits, history, and facts about your favorite food. Where did pizza originate? Greece or Persia? Or Naples, Italy, where a man named Raffaele Esposito created a pizza with tomatoes. With one or two sentences per page, this informative book hits the right spot for ages 4 to 8 year olds.
Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Follow a family kayaking in the ocean as they paddle and notice what’s in the sky and the ocean’s surface, like the whales breaching. Below them, the ocean teams with life — both plants and animals. As always, the evocative writing shares memorable details and vivid verbs. Once again, Messner illuminates the wonders of the world’s biggest ecosystem with the unique over/under pattern.
Caves by Nell Cross Beckerman, illustrated by Kalen Chock
Do you dare to enter the cave to find a dazzling surprise? This fascinating picture book allows readers to explore the secret cave while learning facts about caves; it’s a brilliant combination of narrative and informational texts featuring caves with bats, eels, crystals, lava tubes, and more.
Amazing Plants of the World by Stepanka Sekaninova, illustrated by Zuzana Dreadka Kruta
Narrated by an enthusiastic, quirky gardener, read about weird plants that stink, look peculiar, eat meat, mimic other things, and other oddities. The illustrations are accompanied by a lively description that gives pertinent facts while engaging readers with the gardener’s strong voice.
Built by Animals: Meet the Creatures Who Inspire our Homes and Cities by Christine Dorian, illustrated by Yeji Yun
Learn about animal construction, from the animal’s home-building materials to their designs and more. This book is fascinating, and the illustrations are engaging.
Animal BFFs by Sophie Corrigan
I love the funny dialogue bubbles of conversation between animal “friends” that you haven’t ever heard about — like warthogs and banded mongooses or ruby-throated hummingbirds and spiders– and why they’re paired up. Delightful, interesting, and informative.
Zero Waste Kids: 35 Activities to be an Earth Activist by Rob Greenfield
Helpful step-by-step directions and illustrations share doable activities to help reduce, reuse, and recycle, including crafts, foods, gardening, nature, activism, and zero-waste activities. Make napkins out to t-shirts, make fruit peel decorations, press flours, build a bee hotel, make your own granola bars, and more.
Recycle and Play: Awesome DIY Zero-Waste Projects to Make for Kids by Agnes Hsu
Agnus shows the possibilities of recycling and reusing materials for play, learning, and creativity with clear directions and full-color photographs. This must-own book helps adults facilitate play, process, and creativity for children with no-waste materials. Learn how to transform materials like paper tubes, cardboard, bubble wrap, bottle, egg cartons, and milk cartons into games, toys, planters, and more.
All About Plants: Ada Twist, Scientist The Why Files by Andrea Beaty and Dr. Theanne Griffith
Packed full of information, this informational book about plants hits the right spot for primary ages. Full-color photographs, diagrams, labels, cartoons, and informational text answer big questions like “How do they eat?” and “Do plants need air like me?“ I like this book — the writing and format are excellent. (I’m only disappointed the book doesn’t include a table of contents or a glossary.)
The Biggest Stuff in the Universe by Mr. DeMaio, illustrated by Saxton Moore
Get ready to learn cool facts about BIG things — with photographs, cartoons, and illustrations! From the largest tree to the largest exoplanet to the biggest thing in the known universe (the Hercules Corona Borealis Great Wall), Mr. DeMaio makes learning about science on earth and in space FUN!
Human Body Learning Lab: Take an Inside Tour of How Your Anatomy Works by Betty Choi, M.D.
Colorful pages with kid-friendly writing, illustrations, diagrams, labels, photos, and more add up to my new favorite book on the human body! Start reading about the body’s cellular building blocks and continue reading about subjects like the circulatory system, respiratory system, nervous system, the five senses, the reproductive system, and more. Written by pediatrician Dr. Betty Choi. I absolutely love this book!
Latinitas by Juliet Menendez
Dynamic and interesting one-page biographies of 40 Latina women who made an impact in the world. From chefs like Justa Canaviri to architects like Susan Torre and singers like Celia Cruz, you’ll learn about some amazing women. Graphic illustrations of each woman in earthy tones are featured for each woman’s biographies. Highly recommended.
Almanac 2023 National Geographic Kids
The National Geographic Almanac is a must-own book that kids love. Practice your nonfiction reading comprehension skills as you learn about animals, space, science, history, geography, and much more. Each page is designed to entertain and educate with stunning layouts and eye-popping photographs.