Some researchers have theorized that the reading decline after 3rd grade is because children are not able to comprehend nonfiction as well as they comprehend fiction. True or not, we know that kids are expected to read informational texts much more in the upper grades, middle school, and high school so we must be intentional about asking them to practice reading nonfiction. Providing children with access to many high-quality nonfiction books helps. Books like these newly published gems from 2018…
More Notable Nonfiction Books From 2018
What Makes a Monster? Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures by Jess Keating, illustrations by David DeGrand
Monsters — real animal monsters — is a topic that kids will love reading about. Keating writes in a way that gives kids lots of information in a readable, engaging way. I love the design, too –it’s a mix of photographs, illustrations, cool fonts, and bright colors. What Makes a Monster is a must-read filled with unexpected information about fascinating, dangerous animals.
Builders & Breakers by Steve Light
Easy text, lots of white space, and repetitive words depict parents and children at a construction site doing things like building, breaking, and welding. “Cranes hoist / up, up, up // Children search / look, look, look // Wheelbarrows carry / roll, roll, roll.” I like the illustrations but my daughter didn’t.
My First Book of Basketball (A Rookie Book / Sports Illustrated Kids)
Basketball made simple — I love this combination of photos and illustrations that make this picture book visually appealing. Not only that, the text is perfect for young readers. “The team that has the ball is called the offense.”
I’m an Immigrant Too! by Mem Fox, illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh
This worthwhile book shares the immigration stories of people living in Australia who consider themselves Aussies but originally came from places like China, Somalia, England, and Italy. I LOVE Mem Fox. She’s one of the few contemporary authors who can write in rhyme and it actually works!
“My auntie came from Athens
with her brother and her niece.
And now we live in Adelaide
because it’s so like Greece.”
The Big Book of Super-Villains by Morris Katz
Use this encyclopedia-like book to look up DC villains like Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, Sinestro, and Lex Luther. It’s perfect for superhero geeks or just fans of DC comics. This picture book celebrates all things comics from the font choices to the colorful illustrations.
T. Rex Generations by Ted Rechlin
In a graphic novel with realistic, dramatic illustrations, readers follow a T Rex family from the birth of hatchlings all the way to their adulthood, or at least the adulthood of those infants who survive. Life is dangerous even for the top predators — it’s an eat or be eaten world. Kids won’t be able to put down this well-done illumination of the Cretaceous period filled with action and drama.
Science Comics Sharks Nature’s Perfect Hunter by Joe Flood
This science comic is dense with informational text which appears in text boxes throughout the graphic novel format. It’s a great choice for readers who love to learn, in particular readers who love sharks.
Beavers: The Superpower Field Guides by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
Did you know that beavers have superpowers? Meet Elmer who, like other beavers, has some impressive superpowers like #1 Chainsaw Teeth and #2 Unstoppable Fur and #3 Ever-Toiling Tail. Each of the 10 superpower sections is fact-filled, funny, and illustrated. After you zip through this engaging nonfiction book, Elmer will be your new favorite animal — and you’ll be a beaver expert by the end. Here’s an example of the kid-friendly writing: “Once the lodge is finished, Elmer and Irma begin chewing on an opening underwater. They keep chewing upward until they are above the water level. Then they chew out one or two large rooms inside the lodge. One to sleep in and one for birthday parties and other special events. (That’s not true, but I like the idea of beavers wearing party hats.)” It doesn’t come out until December 2018 but I’d put it on your wish list now or just preorder it — it’s excellent.
Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
Whoa, this is HUGE — possibly too huge? (It’s at least 5 pounds!) Teachers and families could use this book for reading a poem a day as the title suggests. I do like the balance of female and male poets but am disappointed in the lack of diversity of the poets selected. However, it still does expose kids to poetry and that’s something. Poems capture our world and emotions in ways that give us new perspectives and connect very deeply to our hearts. And that’s why we keep exposing kids to poetry! (Resources for teaching poetry to kids here.)
Herbal Adventures: Backyard Excursions and Kitchen Creations for Kids and Their Families by Rachel Jepson Wolf
Using plants for remedies and recipes is not at all common anymore — in fact, I’d venture to guess it’s mostly a lost art. This handbook guides families through plant identification as well as foraging, storage, and recipes for using common plants — plants like dandelions, elderberry, and chickweed — for a variety of purposes. It’s a good book choice for budding horticulturists and is filled with beautiful photos. (I’ve read enough dystopian novels to KNOW I should learn this, too. Just in case…)
Forest School Adventure Outdoor Skills and Play for Children by Naomi Walmsley & Dan Westall
Parents and teachers, use this book as a resource for camping, survival, and outdoor basics. I like that this book isn’t the same old ideas as all the other outdoor books — it has new ideas and more extensive ideas. Each idea tells the age for which it is appropriate, time to do it, and materials you’ll need plus steps and photos for completing the activity or idea. For example in bushcraft, you’ll find four ways to make fire, how to collect water, how to make hitches, and how to carve a butter knife,… among other ideas — of which are there are a lot. In the wild food section, for example, you’ll read about foraging, making juice from nettles, and how to make a lemon cake in a lemon.
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