Don’t forget about nonfiction books!
For your growing readers in the primary grades, especially in second grade, teach them about text features that make nonfiction books different than fiction books.
So, notice the text features of nonfiction together. Look for what makes nonfiction different than fiction:
- table of contents
- titles and subtitles
- bolded words
Here are my top recommendations to keep your 7-year-olds reading nonfiction at an appropriate reading level. Let your kids pick books about things that interest them– it’s very motivating to have a choice of reading material!
Nonfiction Books for 7-Year-Olds
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey
I love, love, love this early reader book! It’s a Toon Book Early Reader so you know from the get-go that it’s going to be cartoon images, but you won’t know how the author makes worms seem so fascinating. He does this with eye-popping illustrations and one sentence of text per page that explain something about the worm — sometimes he has kids asking questions which the worm answers. He painted on recycled grocery bags which makes for a gorgeous, earthy feeling throughout. I just can’t say enough good things about this short little book!
Go Wild! Sea Turtles by Jill Esbaum for National Geographic Kids
Use this new Go Wild! series with your early elementary readers to learn how to read nonfiction text for information. Full-color photographs, labels and captions, and colorful and readable text.
Go Wild! Pandas by Margie Markiarian
This book is a beautiful way for younger readers ages 6 to 9 to learn about pandas with easier text and plenty of photo support and captions.
Dinosaurs By the Numbers by Steve Jenkins
Fox Explores the Night by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Smythe
A nocturnal fox searches for food in a busy city. She finds supper in someone’s backyard then returns home. It’s a purposefully simple book with guided questions in the back such as “Can you find examples of different light sources in the book?“
Mars: Earthlings Welcome by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Mars is a planet with a big personality. In first-person narration, Mars shares all its many features that are much better than Earth’s. Like two moons and 37 more minutes in a day! It’s funny, entertaining, and very informative. I would love to use this in a writing class to teach voice, point of view, and even organization.
My Little Book Manatees by Hope Irvin Marston, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha
Perfect for early elementary-age readers, read all about the life of a mother and baby manatee as he grows with his birth, behavior, food, and problems with pollution and speed boats. Vivid verbs and lots of sounds words throughout make this extra engaging. “Munch! Her huge teeth looked like crinkle-cut french fries. She chewed very fast. Every day she chomped down one hundred pounds of plants.” Very well-done!
What Do They Do With All That Poo?
There’s potty humor and then there are books literally about poop. Learn about the poop of different zoo animals — pandas, hippos, elephants, hyenas, bats, and more. You’ll read what’s in each animal’s poo, the shape and color, and other pertinent facts. “Each rhino’s poop has its own unique smell. Rhinos smell dung to gather information about one another.” Then, the book answers the title’s question –what does the zoo do with so much poop? Well, they put it in trucks and dump it into landfills, send some to scientists, or make compost.
Except Antarctica! by Todd Sturgell
A stoic narrator begins by sharing information about turtles until…the turtle, who doesn’t live in Antarctica, sets off for Antarctica, making the narrator very irked. Soon, the turtle is joined by other animals also NOT found in Antarctica. Hilarity ensues with an increasingly exasperated narrator and bothered turtle who does not want any traveling companions which include a dung beetle, owl, snake, bee, mouse, and frog. Several pages of back matter explain more information about each animal and the continent of Antarctica.
Plants Fight Back by Lisa J. Amstutz, illustrated by Rebecca Evans
What a well-done, fascinating book! On each two-page spread, clever rhymes show how plants protect themselves and more non-rhyming text explains and elaborates on that information. For example, “Some plants deliver a peppery punch to mammals who might try to much them for lunch. // Rabbits like to eat most garden plants. But they don’t touch chili peppers! That’s because chili seeds taste very hot to mammals. The hot seeds don’t bother birds.“
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Amazing, gigantic illustrations give us a bees-eye view of a honeybee’s life from her birth to the days of working in the hive, guarding the hive, and searching for nectar. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book accomplishes being an informative book about the life-cycle of bees that sensitively ends with a reflection of our honeybee’s accomplishments (“She has visited thirty thousand flowers…Her work is done.”), her final flight in the warm air, and the birth of a new honeybee.
Wet Cement A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka
XO, Exoplanet by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jorge Lacera
Get ready to laugh at this hysterical story with a poignant message about seeing multiple perspectives! When our solar system’s planets write a friendly letter to an exoplanet, their communication turns into a funny argument when the exoplanet tells our planets that THEY are actually the exoplanets. A visiting comet helps our planets to see that depending on how you’re looking at things, both arguments could be true. Letters, dialogue bubbles, and expressive illustrations capture the planets’ strong emotions.
Fly Guy Presents Scary Creatures! by Tedd Arnold
Get 5 books in 1 in this large-sized book filled with these level 2 titles: Sharks, Dinosaurs, Insects, Bats, and Snakes. Fly Guy and Buzz visit places like the aquarium or the museum to learn about different creatures. Colorful drawings and photographs illustrate the topics about which they’re learning with an appealing layout. The text of facts and conversation bubbles are just-right and comprehensible for growing readers.
Over and Under the Canyon by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A mother and son take a hike in a desert canyon where animals shelter from the hot sun. Overhead the kestrels glide and eagles dive, along the walls tarantulas creep and geckos scoot. The pair see a roadrunner devour rattlesnakes, a mule deer gallop away, and wildflowers blossom. When the sun fades for the day, mom, dad, and son eat supper and crawl into their tent while coyotes howl and the insects sing a desert-night lullaby. Informative while being interesting and magical.
The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume 1 by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar
Each of these jokes is illustrated with I really love because it gives struggling or new readers extra picture support for decoding and comprehension. This series (volume 2 is here) shares jokes that will make your kids laugh, groan, and share with all their friends. Jokes like:
Why are pirates called pirates?
Because they arrrrrrr.
Why was the dog feeling sorry for himself?
Because his life was so ruff.
A is for Australian Animals by Frane Lessac
Gorgeous artwork showcases the animals of Australia with digestible tidbits of information about each one. Australia has some of the most interesting wildlife I think — emus and numbats, platypus and yabby. You’ll learn a lot from this picture book. Add this to your classroom library, your kids will thank you.
All the Birds in the World by David Opie
As the narrator talks about what makes birds birds, the kiwi bird asks “What about me?” on every page. Eventually, we’ll learn the answer to the little bird’s question…even though she doesn’t fly, has no tail, and has a beak with nostrils, she is part of the bird family. It’s a wonderful, inclusive book with gorgeous illustrations of birds of all kinds. Valuable back matter gives readers a key to the names of the birds on each page.
A Trapezoid Is Not a Dinosaur by Suzanne Morris
If you love funny books that are punny and that make learning fun, you’ll love this picture book. These shapes are putting on a play. They mistake the trapezoid for a dinosaur (an easy mistake, right?) and won’t let him participate. Because obviously there are no parts for dinosaurs in a play about outer space. The shapes brag their qualities (sides, angles, etc.) meaning kids will also learn the properties of each shape, too. Kids will laugh their way through this silly, educational story– don’t miss it.
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, even if they’re a bit more challenging. This particular 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.
So You Want to Be a Ninja? by Bruno Vincent, illustrated by Takayo Akiyama
Engaging and entertaining, full of facts, trivia, quizzes, and fun, this is the essential illustrated guide for ninjas-in-training. Three friends travel back in time to 1789 Japan where they’re taught by famous ninjas.
Sun and Moon Together by Ethan Long
Long’s created a community (Happy County) with silly cartoons and stories that explain factual information while engaging the reader’s attention. Learn about the Sun and the Moon, the water cycle, the solar system, and delight in stories about characters like Wilbur and Orzo Bright whose hot air balloon pops and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. There’s so much to learn, see, and do in this entertaining book.
Beginners United States Atlas National Geographic Kids (2020)
A MUST-OWN BOOK! Updated for 2020, this is a gorgeous, easy-to-use oversized atlas perfect for ages 4 to 12. Each state gets a two-page spread with a large map, a small map showing full-color photographs, the state’s location in the U.S., important facts, land and water features, history about the state. Organized by region, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. The text is simple and readable, perfect for primary grades like 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades.
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!
Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A child narrates what he experiences during a rainforest hike. The child notices the wildlife living up in the canopy and down below on the ground; animals like capuchin monkeys, leaf-cutter ants, sloths, and parrot snakes. Descriptive imagery plus beautiful illustrations transport readers to this verdant ecosystem. “High in the canopy, a furry dark shadow clings to a branch.”
Willow The Therapy Dog (Doggy Defenders)
Willow works as a therapy dog to help people feel better if they are sad — like patients in the hospital and students at a school and retired veterans. And the photos of Willow in her pajamas after a long day of work are absolutely adorable. I love the Doggy Defenders series by National Geographic Kids! Photographs, large, easy-to-read text, and a story introduce readers to helper dogs. Each book includes a fun Q and A in the back that gives readers more information and tips from the dogs.
Stella the Search Dog (Doggy Defenders)
Meet Stella, a bloodhound who works with a human partner, a police trooper. She uses her strong nose to find people who are lost. Learn how Stella practices, rides in the police car and helicopter, and searches and finds a lost hiker. Way to go, Stella!
BUGS! Animal Planet Amazing Animal Facts Chapter Books by James Buckley, Jr.
Free For You and Me by Christy Mihaly, illustrated by Manu Montoya
Rhyming basics tell readers all about the five protections in the 1st Amendment of our U.S. Constitution — free speech, free press, and more. Straightforward and well-written, this will be a helpful addition to elementary classroom learning about government.
Egg to Bee LifeCycles by Camilla de la Bedoyere
Large pages, colorful photographs, oversized print, bolded vocabulary words, and interesting information make this a good addition to any elementary classrooms. You’ll learn about the bees, hive, laying eggs, growing and eating, queen, and more. This is just one in the new easy nonfiction picture books in the LifeCycles series. Other titles include: Tadpole to Frog, Seed to Sunflower, Caterpillar to Butterfly, and Egg to Chicken.
Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter by Christine Evans, illustrated by Yasmin Imamura
“But Evelyn went anyway” repeats throughout this story to show the pioneering courage of Evelyn Cheesman, a woman who didn’t let conventions of what girls could or couldn’t do stop her from living her passion. In the late 1800s, this daring English girl pursued her love for animals with a job running the London Zoo’s insect house. Not only that, she developed a singular focus on entomology, soon traveling the globe to discover new insects. And when she was told not to go places, you guessed it, …she went anyway. Not only is this about an adventurous, tenacious woman we all can admire but also the writing is superb and the lovely illustrations perfectly complement the narrative.
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!
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!
The Brain Is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk
Kids will learn so much about the brain in this well-done, humor-filled book with pacing and flow that will hold readers’ attention. Plus, they’ll love the cartoon panel illustrations and the text to picture ratio.
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!
Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura
Introduce young readers to the crocodile in this picture book that could double as an easy nonfiction reader. Informative and awe-inspiring.
Trees by Verlie Hutchens, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Playful personification poems of different tree species will appeal to readers as they get to know trees in a different way. “Aspen, tall and graceful, dances on her tippy toes. Her golden leaves like castanets shimmer in the breeze.” Textured illustrations accompany each poem, capturing further the character of each tree from Sycamore to Willow. Amazing.
The Big Sticker Book of the Blue by Yuval Zommer
The back pages of this nonfiction book are filled with sea creature stickers. 7 year olds might be asked to stick flying fish stickers on the page to escape predators in the sea. Or you might be asked to draw tentacles on jellyfish. Kids will have fun while they’re learning more about the animals in the underwater world.
I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
The Wing Wing Brothers’ Math Spectacular! by Ethan Long
I’m a big Ethan Long fan, and this book blew me away it was so funny and educational both. (Hard to do.) Plus, it’s a bedtime favorite which I found, well, surprising. Math for bedtime? Cool! In this book we meet the performing Wing Wing brothers: Willy, Woody, Walter, Wendell, and Wilmer. Cartoon illustrations depict their antics in three acts.
Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
I love the simple text matching each beautiful photograph. These books are bright, colorful, and informative — just perfect for any beginning reader.
Planets by Elizabeth Carney
Information, interesting facts, and quizzes make this another win for National Geographic Kids. It has a good text to picture ratio, is interesting and well laid out!
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. Kids will learn about specific animals, animal groups, and more.
Colossal Creature Count: Add Up All of the Animals to Solve Each Scene by Daniel Limon
More than just a search and find book, kids must also use math skills — both adding and algebra. Algebra because you get the total of animals so if your numbers don’t add up, you’ll have to figure out how many are missing. Isn’t this so cool? I’m impressed with the way Colossal Creatures makes learning so fun.
Smithsonian Early Adventurers Level 1 Readers: Safari Animals, Animal Habitats, Insects, Vehicles, Outer Space, Reptiles by Brenda Scott-Royce, Ruth Starter, Emily Rose Oachs, and Kaitlyn DiPerna
Get this early reader book right away for your kids that love nonfiction and animal facts! They will have so much fun exploring and learning all the information included — and practice their new reading skills! I’m impressed with the photos, the text to photo ratio, and the repetition of sentence patterns.
This level 3 early reader book is visually appealing with solid information and good photographs like all the TFKs books and their magazine.
Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs by Tedd Arnold
I adore Fly Guy. And I think it’s such a genius idea of Tedd Arnold to create a nonfiction easy reader series with his popular characters! In Dinosaurs, Fly Guy and Buzz visit the museum and learn about dinosaurs. I like the combination of comics and photographs as well as narrative and informational text. Each of the books in this series is a field trip to learn about the topic.
Amazing Dogs DK Level 2 by Laura Buller
Not only is this nonfiction book relatable because of most kids interest in dogs, it’s fascinating — I learned a few things myself. What a great high-interest book for beginning readers! Added to FAVORITE DOG BOOKS FOR KIDS.
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!
I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
This series is a great choice for 7-year-old boys and girls who are reading nonfiction, perhaps even writing a biography about a famous person. The text to picture ratio is perfect and the narrative is always interesting.
MORE Ordinary People Change the World Recommendations:
I am Albert Einstein
I am Helen Keller
I am Rosa Parks
I am Jackie Robinson
Animal Adventures SHARKS
This has everything for learning and playing — a book, predator fact cards, 3-D models of sharks you can build, a diorama to make with reusable stickers, and six plastic sharks. Talk about beating boredom!
Weird But True 3 by National Geographic
Kids universally love these weird and random facts but that’s not the only awesome thing about Weird But True nonfiction books! The book makes readers think they’re NOT reading. Why? Because there are lots of colorful photographs, one-sentence facts, and you can flip around to read the pages out of order. Perfect to entice even the most reluctant of reader, don’t you think? It works for my oldest daughter!
Dogsledding and Extreme Sports: A nonfiction companion to Magic Tree House #54 by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Carlo Molinari
I learned a lot from this little nonfiction book; it’s packed full of interesting information about many extreme sports such as open water swimming, the Iditarod, and the X Games. SEE ALL of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Books.
Super Mazes in Space by Loic Mehee
Can you do these complex tangles of spaghetti-like mazes in outer space on other planets and galaxies? A few extra goodies like lift-the-flap and unfolding pages — this is so cool!
Goodnight Hockey (Sports Illustrated Kids) by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Christina Forshay
At the city’s outdoor arena, the hockey action is fast-paced and easy to follow through the nonfiction book’s narration and illustrations. And when it’s game over, the kids happily say good-night. I’m impressed at how well Goodnight Hockey introduces young children to the game basics. It’s a great read aloud for younger kids but a good independent book for 7 year olds.
Ride On, Will Cody! A Legend of the Pony Express by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Joe Lillington
Shark-Tastic (Science with Stuff) by Lori Stein
You Can Be a Paleontologist! National Geographic Kids by Scott D. Sampson, Ph.D.
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 of 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!
An Inconvenient Alphabet by Beth Andreson, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
This book is for anyone who has wondered why English spelling is so tricky! You’ll read how both Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster wanted to change English to make it easier. They even made up a new convenient alphabet as well as totally phonetical spellings but it didn’t catch on. It would have NO silent letters, no double letters and only one vowel for short sounds and two for long sounds. For example — thum not thumb and spel for spell and hed for head. But believe it or not, the people didn’t like it their spelling reform ideas. Eventually, Webster decided that if people wouldn’t change, he would write up a Dictionary of the English language in 1806 that contained 37,000 words, only some of which he changed.
A Chicken Followed Me Home! by Robin Page
If you like chickens, and who doesn’t really, then this book is for you!! You’ll learn about different breeds, types of coops, all the basics of chickens. It’s weird but what 7 year old doesn’t like weird?
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.
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins, illustrated by Robin Page
In step by step clarity through images and words, you’ll learn how animal hunters capture and eat their prey. Watch as humpback whales trap and gulp fish, how a capuchin repels insects by rubbing millipedes on their fur, and how crocodiles catch a meal — YIKES! (Plus, lots more.) It’s another nonfiction picture book win from Steve Jenkins.
Spend it! A Moneybunny Book by Cinders McLeod
Cute cartoony pictures help tell this relatable story about a young bunny named Sonny who is debating how to spend his money. He’s having trouble choosing so his mom helps him look at what each thing costs. Sonny considers what he can afford as well as what he will love. This book will be a helpful teaching tool about money and budgets.
Book of Flight: 10 Record-Breaking Animals with Wings by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sam Brewster
This cool, oversized picture book gives readers clues about unique flying creatures then asks readers to guess the bird using the clues and the illustration. For example, when trying to guess the fastest flyer, you’ll read that the bird migrates to Asia, swallows flying ants and bees for breakfast, and was named for the needle-like tips of its tail feathers. Turn the page to find the answer… a white-throated needletail. Even cooler, the answer has a full-color, textured illustration plus more information. The animals in this book include an emperor dragonfly, a Philippine eagle, a Madagascan flying fox, and a California flying fish.