I’m catching up on my nonfiction children’s books from the past months and have so many exceptional books to share with you. These are books for all ages — from picture books about animals and emotions to middle grade books about sea animals and lions. Get ready to put a lot of books on hold at your local library!
New Nonfiction Books, June 2023
Invisible Things by Andy J. Pizza and Sophie Miller
This beautiful book seemingly starts as a book about seeing things with your five senses, but it blossoms into a rich, kid-friendly exploration of feelings — and how noticing our invisible feelings makes for a wonderful life. The creators talk about moods and feelings kids might not know like nostalgia, the heeebie-jeebies, and the blues. The feelings chart is lovely and includes the blahs, empathy, worries, guts, hope, and more. I love the creators’ clever ideas that will spark more curiosity about invisible feelings and other invisible things. This is new read aloud favorite!
We Dug Up the World: Unearth Amazing Archaeology Discoveries by Alexandra Stewart, illustrated by Kitty Harris
Readers will learn about interesting things that people have dug up — asteroids, dinosaurs, ancient art, underwater cities, and more. Each discovery is illustrated in scenes, objects, and people accompanied by factual information. It’s fascinating; kids will love this book!
Great White Shark by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Cindy Lane
A fascinating exploration of the great white shark. We follow a pregnant female shark searching for food and warmer waters. As we follow her journey, each page shares factual information about great white sharks, too. From how sharks hunt to what they eat and then to birth, this teaches us so much. I love everything about this book.
What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Alberto Lot
A raccoon shows us all about maps, starting with a map of his room and then the house. He explains how maps show us where to go and asks a lot of questions. See a city map, a museum map, a body map, a road map, a national forest map, a trail map, and even a weather map. Each map includes a key and explanation. Use this book to make your own maps.
I Am Made of Mountains by Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, illustrated by Vivian Mineker
A child narrates in first person point of view as if he were the nature in the U.S. national parks–personified, active, and growing with beautiful imagery. “I am made of sunrise, sleepy promises that tumble.” Each spread features a different park, like Olympic National Park, Washington, and Death Valley National Park, Nevada. “I am made of wind, bellowing on my way. I blow through caves, bend down blades, make prairies swoop and sway.” I’m already planning my trips, will your kids want to do the same?
Not a Monster by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, illustrated by Laura Gonzalez
ANIMALS / ENDANGERED ANIMALS / SPANISH COLORS
As you learn about the not-a-monster axolotl, this imaginative story also introduces the color words in Spanish. Watch the egg to growing fins, the color roja, then swim under a moon the color blanca. See the axolotl search for food among the roots of flowers rosados. Readers will read about these adorable salamander creatures, their behaviors, and how pollution is affecting their canal habitat in Mexico City. Bravo for this lovely picture book that does triple duty — entertains kids, educates us about the axolotl, and teaches us about los colores!
Good for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World by Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng
FOOD / ENVIRONMENTALISM
Written in rhyme, learn about how different places around the world have created sustainable farms — and why its important. A rooftop garden grows food in the USA. Tree-shaped gardens collect rainwater and make solar power in Singapore. Underwater, greenhouse pods grow gardens in Italy. Back matter explains more about sustainable farming, food justice, a map of the places in the book, and gives information about each sustainable farm practice.
Teaching Tornero: The True Story of a Sloth Superstar by Georgeanne Irvine
One day, a zoo worker noticed that the two-toed sloth had a newborn baby. Watch as the new baby grows, eats, and becomes comfortable with humans at the zoo. Full color photos paired with narration details the growth of the new baby sloth growing stronger and becoming an ambassador at the San Diego Zoo.
A is for Australian Reefs by Frane Lessac
OCEAN / CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEM
A for Australian Reef, B for Biodiversity, U for Urchins, Z for Zebra seahorses, and everything in between this book explores the fascinating world of the Australian coral reefs. The pages are illustrated with colorful, beautiful illustrations. The large text shares the main idea information and smaller text gives more detailed facts.
Animals in Pants by Suzy Levinson, illustrated by Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell
These funny poems will delight readers with their rhyming and silliness. Manatees in dungarees, kangaroos in jumpsuits, giraffes in kilts, and spiders who put on their pants one leg, one leg, one leg, times eight at a time.
A Life of Service: The Story of Tammy Duckworth by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
BIOGRAPHY / AAPI HERITAGE
Hugely inspiring, this is the true story of a woman who worked hard to achieve her goals, including learning to live after her amputations and running in an election. Tammy Duckworth grew up in a poor household, joined the army, and was severely injured. After her amputations, she learned how to walk again and continued her dream to serve others, this time in community leadership. She eventually became the first Thai American woman and the first woman with a disability to serve in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
The Tree of Hope by Anna Orenstein-Cardona, illustrated by Juan Manuel Moreno
WEATHER / SYMBOLISM
The old, enormous banyan tree on the island of Puerto Rico is felled by a terrible hurricane. But the island’s residents replant the tree’s roots and it slowly grows again, giving them hope for a rebirth from the destruction of the storm.
Mother of Sharks by Melissa Christina Marquea, illustrated by Devin Elle Kurtz
Part autobiography, part fictional story, we read about the author’s journey to becoming a renowned shark scientist. As a child, Meli loves the ocean. One day she meets a little crab named Jaiba who takes her on an underwater adventure. She sees how the coral reef has been bleached by pollution and frees a shark trapped in a fishing net. That’s when Meli gets interested in sharks and conservation.
A Tulip in Winter A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Lauren Soloy
This is the biography of a woman with physical limitations who creates art using her boundless imagination and positivity. The illustrations perfectly capture Maud’s folk-style art.
Glow The Wild Wonders of Bioluminescence by Jennifer N.R Smith
Learn about fish, fireflies, and other things that glow, plus the scientists who study these creatures. Illustrations in a purple and green color palate adorn this oversized book with fascinating facts. Beautiful illustrations add such appeal to this oversized book. Kids will love reading this one.
Glaciers Are Alive by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle
Fascinating information, lyrical descriptions, and vivid verbs, plus gorgeously painted illustrations show the life cycle of a glacier and how it affects animals and humans around it. The glacier looks frozen and empty, but it is home to billions of living things, including pink algae, ice worms, snow bunting, a brown bear and her cubs, seabirds, and whales. Human ice climbers and kayakers travel atop and around the glacier.
Matter (Hands-On Science) by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Druscilla Santiago
This picture book is a fantastic introduction to chemistry with clear text and illustrations. Simple, interactive experiments show children hands-on examples of the states of matter from solid to gas to liquid that kids can do at home as their read and in real life. For example, “put” the sugar into juice and watch it dissolve. Next, place the juice in the freezer and close the door, aka. turn the page. While you wait, you can predict what will happen by tapping on the picture showing what you think might happen to the juice in the freezer. You’ll turn the page to see…it’s solid ice! Isn’t that brilliant and interactive!?
The Deep! Wild Life at the Ocean’s Darkest Depths by Lindsey Leigh
What an engaging dive into the ocean! Read about the ocean layers and the cool creatures who live in each ocean zone. The unique handwritten font instead of a traditional font gives the feeling of waves and playfulness. Cartoon illustrations show interesting creatures like the barreleye fish, the prambug, the hagfish, and the tripod fish. And the dialogue bubbles of conversational creatures only add to the genius of this eye-catching book. I predict this will be very popular with middle grade readers!
Mona Lisa and the Others by Alice Harman, illustrated by Quentin Blake
If you want to teach your children about famous art, you’ll love the fun narrative voice of each significant object of art from the Louvre narrates its story and comments on the others, especially Mona Lisa. As you read, you’ll learn a lot about history and art. Enchanting! Yes, there are some nudes.
365 Days of Play: Activities for Every Day of the Year by Megan Hewes Butler, illustrated by Emily Balsley
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
I wish I had this book when my kids were little. Crack this large book open and you’l lfind a large variety of doable, fun activities for kids. Get ideas for games, activities with no supplies, active movement, outdoors, science, imagination, and recycling. This would also be a great book for babysitters as well as parents for any time of year but especially during the summer.
How Do Meerkats Order Pizza? by Brooke Barker
SCIENTISTS AND ANIMALS
You might think this book is about meerkats. It’s not…completely. It’s actually an engaging and informative book about scientists who specialize in specific areas of study — including meerkats studied by Dr. Marta Manser and also Japanese macaques and bonobos studied by Dr. Cecile Sarabian and lizards studied by Dr. Earyn McGee. The book is illustrated in comics with dialogue bubbes and handwritten text. It’s amazingly dense with factual information but remains easy to read, interesting, and appealing to the eye. Readers will want to pour over this book for days and learn about animals and scientists. Maybe it will inspire a new career trajectory…or just educate kids on more of the natural world. I love it!
Save the Lions by Sarah L. Thomson
Well-written and interesting, kids will enjoy this middle-grade book all about lions. Readers will learn about where they live, lion life, why lions are endangered, and who has been saving lions. Like all nonfiction books, you’ll find common nonfiction text features, including captions, black and white photos, bolded vocabulary words, and headers.
Unplugged Play: Grade School 216 Activities & Games for Ages 6 – 10 by Bobbi Conner
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
I like that this is for elementary school ages, not preschoolers. You’ll find ideas for solo play, parent & child play, party play, and play with others. Every activity gives materials, supplies, safety warnings, number of children, and step-by-step directions. Activities include things like a pirate treasure hunt, eco beads, and water balloon baseball. It’s packed full of ideas and will get you finding playful ideas to do with kids.
Drawing with Squiggles & Wiggles by Christopher Hart
Many beginning drawing books start with basic shapes. This one uses basic shapes but also adds squiggles in order to teach children how to draw all sorts of animals and people. You’ll find step-by-step directions for creatures like a baby koala, a pony, a snake, and a cat, as well as more advanced drawing tasks like turtles shaking hands, a girl with surprised hair, and a scared pear.