Get your 8-year-olds (3rd graders) reading nonfiction books! It’s a different kind of reading than fiction and extremely important for their future success when they’ll be reading for information. Here’s a list of good book recommendations and reviews to get them started.
Nonfiction Books for 8 Year Olds
The Squirrels’ Busy Year (A First Science Storybook) by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Jones
Follow the owl and squirrels as they go through a year. The book starts with winter. The squirrels are “curled up in their cozy nest“. Each season shows readers the different weather and behavior of the animals. It’s a lovely introduction to seasons and animals. (Added to: Picture Books to Teach Children About the Seasons)
Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster
Teachers tell me that their students can’t get enough of the Who Would Win? books. This book pits two ocean carnivores against each other. First, you’ll learn facts about a sperm whale, then you’ll learn about the giant squid. Finally, read what happens when these two creatures face-off. Can you predict who will win? See all the addicting informational books in the Who Would Win series.
The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldep
Little Guides to Great Lives Nelson Mandela by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Hannah Warren
Little Guides to Great Lives Anne Frank by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Paola Escobar
Anne started a diary that would share how the world was changing with the rise of the Nazis in Europe. In her diary, Anne described her life in hiding which was in the building of her father’s business. She dreamed of becoming a writer after the war but never got the chance. This biography shares about the events surrounding Anne’s life with a call to action to read The Diary of Anne Frank for yourself. (When you’re older.) Lavender and red illustrations throughout support readers as they read the information.
Animals on the Move(Animal Planet) by Dorothea DePrisco (ages 7+)
What If You Had an Animal Nose!? by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Colorful, well-designed layout make this pleasing to read. First you’ll read a page with color photographs and information about the animal’s unique nose. Then, the next page shows an illustration with a kid that has the animal nose instead of a human nose. Learn how the Tapir has a handy nose made of muscle to bend and move which is called a proboscis. If you had a tapir’s nose, you could use it to catch a home-run ball. What other noses will you learn about? An elephant, cottontail rabbit, saiga, star-nosed mole, rhinoceros, giant anteater, Bourret’s horseshoe bat, and hammerhead shark. The book concludes with information extolling the virtues of you human nose. Plus, how to take good care of it.
The Inventors of LEGO Toys by Erin Hagar, illustration by Paige Garrison
This informational book rocks! It’s well-written, nicely illustrated, and very interesting! Learn the history of Ole Kirk Christiansen and his start as a woodworker. From yo-yos to plastic bricks to LEGO now, this is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve seen. Highly recommended.
The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall by Hannah Holt, illustrated by Jay Fleck
Brilliantly conceived and exceptionally written using a parallel storytelling. The structure shows the similarities between the rocks of the earth and a boy’s life using the descriptions of HEAT, PRESSURE, CHANGE, and WAITING. As we read, we learn about the graphite in the earth as well as the curious boy who finds solace in the library. We see the diamonds waiting to be discovered while the boy grows up to work in a lab where he patiently builds an invention — a machine that makes diamonds. (This is a real thing!) I love the unique presentation and beautiful wordsmithing in this 2018 book.
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 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.
The Official DC Super Hero Joke Book by Michael Robin, Sarah Parvis, and Noah Smith
Just in time for this summer’s DC and Marvel movies, comes a joke book to keep kids laughing and reading. And if your kids are like mine, they’ll read them all aloud TO YOU. I apologize in advance. 🙂 But reading is good — and so is groaning, chortling, and giggling! Here’s a Flash joke to give you the gist: Why does The Flash love watching science documentaries? He finds them fast-inating.
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating
These aren’t your princess pink variety of pink animals. No! In fact, these are gelatinous blobfish, hairy tarantulas, naked mole rats, and more — that just happen to be pink. Great writing pairs perfectly with photographs and cartoons. I love this book!
When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien
I LOVE how creative this book is with a cartoon-like blobfish with a big personality who interjects said personality during the book’s photograph and textual information about life in the deepest parts of the ocean. Perfect text to picture ratio (aka. not too much!) makes this a nonfiction home run!
Little Kids First Big Book of Science by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Buy this book for your primary classroom or homeschool, it’s a beautiful presentation of science concepts including life science, earth and space, physical science, and inventions. Eye-pleasing, colorful photographs and layouts make this kid-friendly and readable.
Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald
My daughter loved this book so much she read all the facts to me throughout her reading of it. It’s in a picture book format with lovely illustrations making it enticing to read. Did you know these facts . . .
. . . zebras are attracted to things that are black-and-white striped – just like they are. If you painted black-and-white stripes on a wall, a zebra would walk toward it.
. . . worker ants in a colony don’t sleep all day or all night. Instead, they each take about 250 naps throughout the day, each nap lasting just longer than a minute.
I bet your 8 year olds won’t want to put this book down, either.
A Zeal of Zebras by Whoop Studios
Reading this picture book, I couldn’t help but wonder who the heck made up these crazy animal group names. You’ll see when you read this crazy (and informative) book about the collective names of species. For example . . .
an implausibility of gnus
an ostentation of peacocks
a pandemonium of parrots
a troubling of goldfish
Hard to believe, isn’t it?! But, it’s a GREAT conversation starter at dinner and fun to learn. Which will be your favorite?
Animal Planet Animals A Visual Encyclopedia by Animal Planet
Beautiful photographs and bite-sized chunks of information showcase more than 2,500 animals from the seven major animal groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids, invertebrates, and fish are featured in 1,050 stunning full-color photos, plus dynamic illustrations, maps, and charts.
Strange But True! Our Weird, Wild, Wonderful World DK
This is a favorite book — I literally couldn’t help but read so many of the pages out loud to my kids, they were just so interesting. First the photographs grab your attention — then the headlines — and then the text. This is a GREAT book for your reluctant readers because it’s practically irresistible to read through it. Love it for a gift idea!
Animal Planet Animal Atlas
Extra large pages of continents show the biomes and animals who live in each. Subsequent pages feature colorful close-up photographs of animals matched with information about the animal– where it lives, why it lives there, and what it eats. This atlas is SO colorful and well designed, any reader will be drawn to look at the photographs and read it extensively. Impressive!
LEGO Awesome Ideas What Will You Build?
Awesome barely begins to describe this book — it’s jam-packed with so many ideas from different themes like Outer Space, Modern Metropolis, the Wild West, Fantasy Land, and The Real World. I just love browsing through the ideas. Be warned: Your kids will want you to order A LOT more Legos for these new projects.
In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years by David Elliott, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Aptly-oversized to reflect many of the gigantic creatures within, these poems and gorgeous illustrations celebrate prehistoric creatures. Creatures like the weird-looking dunkleosteus or terrifying yutyrannus. Some of these creatures you’ll know, many will be new. The text is very accessible. Each creature includes their scientific name plus the geologic timeline in which they lived. SO cool, right?
No birds yet.
Only you in the sky.
the giant dragonfly!”
This level 3 early reader book is visually appealing with solid information and good photographs like all the TFKs books and their magazine.
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Fascinating and important history meet gifted storytelling in this new picture book biography about Louis Braille. We follow the life of precocious, sightless Louis who desperately wants to read and write but is disappointed with his limited options. Despite being chronically ill, a child, and lots of failed attempts, Louis invents a system for the blind to read and write that is still in use today.
The Frog Book by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Densely packed with facts about frogs from the basics to finding a mate to reproduction and species, this beautifully illustrated book is the only field-guide to frogs that your kids will ever need. Holy moly will your 3rd graders will learn a lot!
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon
The Peacemaker was a real person who choose a man named Hiawatha to help him communicate his message of peace and unity to the five nations of Iroquois. The message wasn’t well-received at first but the Peacemaker helped the tribal leaders understand forgiveness and unity. United, the Iroquois nation became a model for democracy which was said to have influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Rocket to the Moon: Big Ideas That Changed the World by Don Brown
Instead of reading a narrative nonfiction book, this fact-filled history about the first moon landing is an exciting, well-written, black-and-white graphic novel. Reading this book will help your 8 year olds understand our country’s competitiveness with Russia, the many attempts to launch rockets, and the eventual success of sending astronauts into space.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Puzzle Adventure by Aleksandra Artymowska
We’re enjoying this search and find and spot the difference puzzle book where readers help Captain Nemo search for adventure and treasure. Each full-page spread is intricately illustrated so there is a lot to notice. Then use these illustrations to solve the tasks. For example, find a diving helmet that is different from the others. Or find identical seashells. Fun, right?
Weird But True 3 by National Geographic
Not only do 8-year-olds universally love these weird and random facts but design of the book makes readers think they’re not really reading. Why? Because there are tons of colorful photographs and just one sentence fact per page. Which is perfect to entice even the most reluctant of reader, don’t you think? And, you can pick it up in the middle and don’t have to remember what happened earlier. So it doesn’t matter about what the fact is before you read that rat’s can’t burp and birds don’t sweat. Who cares?! All you know is that rats probably have serious gastro issues.
Weird But True SPORTS: 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletics National Geographic Kids
I wasn’t sure what to expect but again, National Geographic outdid themselves. The facts weird (did you know professional hockey players can be penalized for tucking their jerseys into their pants?!) and come from a wide range of topics and sports. Learn crazy facts about skateboarding, ostrich races, and jetsprint boats! Highly recommended. ALSO READ: Awesome Sports Books for Kids
Mad Libs Junior Animals
Make up super silly stories with your friends and family. No need to remember parts of speech because the junior book uses pictures instead. Best for kids in first, second, and third grades, or ages 6 – 9.
Sticker Dolly Dressing on Vacation by Lucy Bowman, Vici Leyhane, Stella Baggott
24 pages and stickers of girls on vacation — my own kids adore these sticker books and save them forever. (Much to my dismay.)
A-Maze-Ing Animals 50 Mazes for Kids by Joe Wos
I saw this book on a tweet and fell in love with it! Each of the mazes is a design of the animals in 5 difficulty levels. From bats hanging in a cave to colorful underwater creatures, these mazes will develop visual-spatial skills in a totally fun, engaging way. And I’m pretty positive that once you get started, you won’t want to stop.
Gecko by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
Set up in a parallel structure, we read the narrative story about a day in the life of Gecko as well as expository facts about geckos. Visually appealing and interesting.
Elephants on Tour: A Search & Find Journey Around the World by Guillaume Cornet
I really like the integration of geography and world cultures in this fun search and find book! And maybe, it makes me a little nostalgic for Barbar. 🙂 Because elephants. Five elephants are traveling the world — find them on each page. The illustrations are minuscule and enchanting! Each location’s two-page spread shows where the elephants are visiting next from the Amazon to Madagascar and Amsterdam. You’ll also see a “Fact File” with the country, currency, language, and population. Another fact overlay shares how to say hello, places to visit, things to do, what to buy, and what to eat. Cool, right?!
If an Egg Hatches . . . and Other Animal Predictions by Blake A. Hoena
I like this book for two reasons. First, the fantastic color photographs. Second, the questions that get the reader to engage fully with the text before they flip the page to read the answer. For example: “Every animal in nature is important. Imagine if there weren’t any predators like wolves. What would happen to the populations of elk and deer?”
Show Me Dogs My First Picture Encyclopedia by Megan Cooley Peterson
Do your kids love animals? This book, and others like it in this well-designed series will entice your kids to devour facts all about the animal they love — like dogs!
Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan
Sir Cumference’s son, Round 2, counts and adds everything. Round 2 counts, rounds, and adds. Sometimes he counts the weapons, sometimes soldiers. Sometimes he uses a number line aka. a measuring tape. Round 2 uses rounding to ten in order to make addition easier. Doing so helps his father win the battle against Sir Wantsalot. This is a fun addition (get it?!) to the Sir Cumference picture book series.
Austin, Lost in America A Geography Adventure by Jef Czekaj
A lonely pet store dog escapes to search for a forever family. He travels the United States, searching and learning more about each state. Surprisingly, despite the large number of states and information presented, the author makes this nonfiction adventure for kids entertaining.
Highlights Hidden Pictures Sticker Book
Younger learners can the stickers to find the hidden objects. So fun! My kids always preferred the sticker hidden picture books to the color books.
Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti
Learn about cotton and how it goes from the field to machines, to spinners, and then to clothes. Read about yarn how it starts from sheep and then as it becomes a sweater. Overall, I found this picture book fascinating — filled with so much information!
Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Warm illustrations meet beautiful writing in this new non fiction picture book about the warm-wet rainforest. Count along as you learn about rainforest animals and plants. Count 6 roaring howler monkeys, 62 agoutis, or 512 Rusty Wandering Spiders. It’s a beautiful book with the just the perfect amount of text (not too much).
Children’s Activity Atlas
Colorful illustrated maps with flag, animal and landmark stickers, postcards, and a passport book make this a great interactive for geography enthusiasts. (I’ll admit, I wanted to steal it from my children and do the stickers myself.)
Orangutan Houdini by Laurel Neme illustrated by Kathie Kelleher
What an interesting picture book story based on real life story! Fu Manchu, the orangutan, keeps escaping from his enclosure in the zoo. He doesn’t leave the zoo, just hangs out in the trees and always returns when his keeper comes to get him. Fu is one clever orangutan! Written like a story in narrative format, this is an excellent nonfiction picture book.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, USA with Bret Witter, photographs by Dan Dion
This picture book follows a typical day in the life of Luis and Tuesday from breakfast to bedtime. The photographs are gorgeous! The text is totally perfect — not too much, just right. It’s powerful to witness the bond between a service dog, Tuesday and his person, Luis who experiences post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities. Tuesday helps Luis with his nightmares and helps him balance as he walks down the subway stairs. I highly recommend this amazing nonfiction book — it will tug at your heart strings. And, if you want to read about Luis and Tuesday, get his full-length memoir, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.
Tiger by Suzi Eszterhas
Read about tiger cubs as they grow up in India. See the tigers in their rocky cliff cave, learn that the cubs won’t grow into all their stripes for two years, watch the family move to a new forest den, follow as the cubs learn to hunt, and then see how big the tigers get in two short years. A page of tiger facts finishes out this book.
Glow Animals with Their Own Night-Lights by W.H. Beck
I LOVE the photography in this beautiful nonfiction picture book and think you will as well. Brightly colored (glowing) plants and animals with bioluminescence pop out of the pages on black backgrounds. Each two page spread page has both large and medium sized text with the perfect amount of text — not too much! Read to find out why these creatures glow. You’ll learn how they use this adaptation for a purpose such as hunting, hiding, and tricking. Impressive.
DNA Detective by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Lil Grump
Colorful and easy to read, I very much enjoyed this informational book and it’s kid-friendly layout. Plus it’s packed full of fascinating facts about the science of DNA and how researchers figured it out and use it in practical applications like solving crimes.
Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Kate Sessions helped plant San Diego with a variety trees that would grow in the city’s climate. She worked hard to make sure that by the World’s Fair, there were enough trees for shade that the attendees wouldn’t be too hot. Beautifully written and illustrated!
A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call them Home by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Ed Young
You got to love a poetry book about ice worms, spadefoot toads, limpets, and other animals who live in dangerous habitats. Here’s an example:
of them are born
in carrion, water,
or soil. But not this crew. They hatch
The mixed media collage illustrations will blow you away. Fabulous.
Snakeopedia (Discovery Channel)
Gorgeous photos that gross me out and enchant snake lovers fill Snakeopedia. While I might say yuck, this is a terrific snake book filled with amazing photography and fascinating facts about the 12 snake families, the features of different snakes, which are dangerous, and other snaky stuff. I highly recommend this book. If you’re not afraid like me. 🙂
Smithsonian Sticker Creations Wildlife by Kaitlyn DiPerna
I really like this interactive book with it’s eye-catching photographs, perfect text to picture ratio, and stickers. 8-year-old readers will learn about specific animals, animal groups, and more.
Elephant by Suzi Eszterhas
Journey along with an elephant calf as he grows up. I found this nonfiction book to be fascinating and highly recommend it!
If an Egg Hatches . . . and Other Animal Predictions by Blake A. Hoena
I like this book for two reasons. First, it has fantastic color photographs. Second, the questions in it get the reader to engage fully with the text before they flip the page to read the answer. For example: “Every animal in nature is important. Imagine if there weren’t any predators like wolves. What would happen to the populations of elk and deer?”
Show Me Dogs My First Picture Encyclopedia by Megan Cooley Peterson
Do your kids love animals? This book, and others like it in this well-designed series will entice your 8-year-old kids to devour facts all about the animal they love — like dogs!
Eat Your U.S. History Recipes for Revolutionary Minds by Ann McCallum, illustrated by Leeza Hernandez
History-themed recipe book with recipes for Thanksgiving Succotash, Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies, and Independence Ice Cream, among other foods, will give kids background and information about each and a yummy way to discover early American history.
The Ultimate Pirate Handbook: Everything you need to know about pirate life by Libby Hamilton, Mathieu Leyssenne, and Jason Kraft
This pirate book has it all — pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, and cartoon-like illustrations with fascinating tips and facts about pirate life. You’ll love the humor in this book, too — like the pirate personal hygiene section. This is the nitty-gritty (literally) of pirate life, right? I particularly like the Pirate sickness page — this is good stuff, my friends!
Guide to Photography National Geographic Kids by Nancy Honovich and Annie Griffiths
Learn the equipment, the best composition, and so many tips for cool photographs on your digital cameras or smart phones. We like that you can flip through and find ideas quickly, that it’s not a cover to cover read.
Around the World in 80 Puzzles by Aleksandra Artymowska
This is a GREAT gift book for the entire family to enjoy. Visual discrimination never looked so beautiful! My kids and husband were hooked on it as soon as this book arrived in the mail. So together or individually, you’ll have so much fun with this book that celebrates the world! I love how the puzzles give kids practice with visual discrimination skills and following directions. And in this unique book, there is a lot of white space while still requiring detail orientation. See the pieces of the Eiffel Tower and answer — “Which of these pieces isn’t part of the Eiffel Tower?” and “Can you arrange the other pieces in the correct order?“
I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Winnie The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathan London, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Excellent writing and illustrations make this one of the best nonfiction animal books! Bigger text pairs with smaller factual text to give readers maximum learning. Hippos are COOL and DANGEROUS which you’ll find out when you read this book.
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
A little known piece of Ben Franklin history, we see him use the scientific method to figure out what Dr. Mesmer was really doing. Was it magic, science, or was Dr. Mesmer a fraud? Excellent images, design, and compelling plot!
Leopard & Silkie One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups by Brenda Peterson, photographs by Robin Lindsey
A group of volunteers called Seal Sitters, watch out for baby seals who are left on Seattle shore while their mothers hunt for food. This photographic story tells the story of baby seal, Leopard, who is crowded by onlookers and dogs. Young volunteer, Miles, calls his fellow Seal Sitters to help him move the people away from Leopard. Miles and his grandpa decide to build a floating dock for Leopard so he will be safe when his mother hunts. It’s a compelling story about the real dangers that marine mammals face every day, perfect for 8 year olds (3rd graders) who love animals.
National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas
Another great, eye-catching book from the beloved National Geographic! Each state includes a map, slogan, roadside attractions and lots of impressive attractions and facts. This could inspire your family’s next road trip or trips.
LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World by DK Publishing
My kids fight over this book — it’s that cool. All the characters get a page describing that minifigure such as when they were created, by what artist, and the thinking behind the face and outfit. Pretty fascinating stuff to my Harry Potter addicted kids.
The Scary Places Map Book Seven Terrifying Tours by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Kids will read, think, view, and do in this super-cool book of maps. The seven terrifying tours include Captain Davy Jones’ Ghostly Galleon, Land of Mythical Monsters, Transylvania, Nightmare House, and more. Each tour includes background about the horrifying horrors, the dangers, a map on a grid, and directions. For example, in the Western Terror-tories, the directions start,”Hop off the stagecoach in Tombstone J1. Gruesome Gus will meet you at the Depot. Before you head out, Gust will take you on a tour of Bone Orchard. I1.” The back of the book contains more details to spot.
Through Time The Olympics From Ancient Greece to the Present Day by Richard Platt, illustrated by Manuela Cappon
This book gives our 3rd grade kids the background information that no one else in your family will know. It’s fascinating stuff. For example, I just learned from my daughter all about the number of swimming pools needed in an Olympic Games. From Paris, 1900 to London 2012, we get a glimpse of each host city as well as information about the Games.
It’s All About Me-Ow by Hudson Talbott
HILARIOUS! If you own or love cats, your 8-year-old kids will be able to relate to the quirkiness depicted in this delightful picture book about cats. It’s written to a new cat, explaining cat life with diagrams and punny definitions that are so funny. My favorite page is:
“Humans May Forget That You Are The Center Of Their World. Here’s how to fix the problem:
Race wildly around the house for no reason.
Stare at them — They’ll wonder why, but you won’t tell them.
Stop eating your favorite food, even if you’re hungry. You have to keep them guessing.”
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
Get it? Now and then/Ben? This informative nonfiction picture book shows us what’s happening NOW that we can credit to BEN. It’s simple and to-the-point, making it a fantastic nonfiction picture book for 3rd graders. Now . . . bifocals are very common. Bifocals combine two sets of lenses into one pair of glasses. The bottom lens helps see near, and the top lens helps see far. Ben . . . originally designed bifocals for himself after he grew tired of switching between two pair of glasses.