Wait until you see this collection of new nonfiction books for middle-grade readers, ages 7 to 13. You’ll find a wide variety of topics, too from a compelling book about ostriches to a well-written graphic novel about RBG to a super cool showcase of great classical composers.
As you know, it’s vitally important that kids read nonfiction as well as fiction. We need kids capable of comprehending informational text and practice makes progress.
See if one or four of these books will be worthy additions to your home or school libraries.
19 New Nonfiction Books Kids Will Love (Ages 7 – 13)
Welcome to Jazz: A Swing-Along Celebration of America’s Music by Carolyn Sloan, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Want to introduce your children or students to jazz music? Start with this exceptional interactive picture book! Three kitty friends are excited to listen to a jazz band in New Orleans. Before they do, they introduce us to jazz is in a few sentences. Then the band arrives and play, “When the Saints Go Marching In”. You can listen to the song by pressing #1 on the side and imagine you’re at the jazz club, too. Each page introduces jazz vocabulary words and their meanings like groove, beat, melody, scatting, melody, and improv. The cats discuss the music and there are more facts that correspond to the numbers 1 – 12. Press the corresponding numbers on the side to hear instruments and examples of music. You’ll hear the banjo, tuba, trumpet, and double bass as well as improvisation, clarinet solo, and call-and-response. And, the music will make you want to boogie!
Sleuth and Solve: 20+ Mind-Twisting Mysteries by Victor Escandell
As a teacher, I used these kinds of mind-bending puzzles in my classroom frequently. Why? Because the solutions take out-of-the-box thinking. Which is SO GOOD FOR KIDS! I love the design and format of this book… Pen and ink illustrations accompany a short mystery puzzle. Kids will love the challenge of trying to figure out the solutions– then getting to check to see if they got it right by lifting the flap.
Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of the Great Depression by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Sarah Dvojack
THE GREAT DEPRESSION / PHOTOGRAPHY
A powerful picture book that shows how art, in this instance photography, can be used to spread a message. Dusty-colored illustrations help narrate the story of a famous photograph beginning with a young girl and her family who leave the drought in Oklahoma for wetter California. There, the family’s migrant work dries up, too. Hungry and desperate, a photographer hired by the government named Dorothea Lange takes a photograph of the mother with her kids. When the photograph published in the newspaper, it showed the country the harsh realities of migrant workers’ lives and prompted an outpouring of food. Back matter shares more about Dorothea Lange and how the famous photograph came to be.
Added to: Best Picture Book Biographies
Isn’t this book GORGEOUS?!! Before you even read a word, this book’s beautifully sculpted 3D paper art dioramas capture your attention. These are absolutely breathtaking and magical — making four favorite locations come to life in paper! (Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, The Ministry of Magic, and Hogsmeade Village.) Meanwhile, the pages in between these locations are filled with illustrations and facts about the places with production design insight into how the team created the sets to consider both the magical and conventional worlds, make it magical, and add surprise and wonder. For example, in Diagon Alley, the designs of the buildings were inspired by illustrations from Charles Dickens’s novels and the designers played with gravity with some structures leaning on others.
The Totally Sick Sick-Day Activity Book by Mark Shulman, illustrated by Joe Bartos
If your child is too sick to be at school but you don’t want them on screens all day long, grab a copy of this book. It’s an enticing book filled with word games, puzzles, drawing prompts, and more! I’m ready for my own sick day with this book…
The Big Book of Monsters: The Creepiest Creatures from Classic Literature by Hal Johnson, illustrated by Tim Sievert (ages 10+)
This book presents the scariest monsters from literature! We all know Frankenstein’s Monster but maybe not The Horla or Beatrice Rappaccini, just two of the scary monsters from literature illuminated fully in this book. Packed full of information, The Big Book of Monsters features 25 monsters from many cultures, some as ancient as you can imagine starting with Apep who comes from The Book of the Dead, 16th Century BC. Like all the monsters in this book, you’ll read who he is (Yikes!) then supporting information in a “Beyond the Book” section which in this case is about translating the hieroglyphics and Egyptian short stories. Goulish illustrations and plenty of fear-inducing creatures fill the pages. Maybe don’t read this right before bed! Added to: Popular Monster Books That Kids Love
Ostriches: The Superpower Field Guide by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
You think you know. But you have no idea…how cool and weird and amazing ostriches are. Not until you read this book. I read it cover to cover in one sitting because it was so incredibly interesting and compelling! I mean, the ostriches have TOE CLAWS OF DEATH. For real. And their bones are just bizarre yet for a really good reason! What you think is their knee is their ankle bone. Not to mention their eyeballs are the biggest of any land animal. But let’s not get too much into all the fascinating facts that you’ll learn; let me just sum up by saying that this book makes me awestruck by the ostrich. It’s my new favorite animal! Run to your library or bookstore and get this book.
Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner
Introduce young readers to the fascinating life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with this clearly-written graphic novel that shows about her life from childhood to adulthood including her family life. You’ll see how women were treated differently than men and the challenges that a trailblazer like Ginsburg faced. She experienced discrimination first hand. For example, discrimination affected where she went to law school (some schools didn’t allow women) and even though she was top of her class, she found that she wasn’t getting any job offers. Based on her experiences and quest for fairness, Ginsburg became passionate about civil liberties, specifically gender discrimination. Not only was she a lawyer and judge but she also became a Supreme Court Justice. Readers will see how Ginsburg was true to her self and her goals and persisted despite difficulties and used her career to fight for equal rights. Well-crafted and highly recommended.
Insect Superpowers 18 Real Bugs that Smash, Zap, Hypnotize, Sting, and Devour! by Kate Messner, illustrated by Jillian Nickell
Designed to look like a comic book of superhero powers, readers will delight in the oversized pictures, the large smack!s pow!s and chomp!s, and the super cool facts about amazing bugs. Bugs like the Green tiger beetle, the fastest of all insects. Messner shares the must-know basics of each bug (name, size, hideout, superpower) then launches into fascinating details about each bug including what they eat (favorite foods) and who eats them (archenemies). Action-filled cartoon panels show the bugs in action. You might just see a bug stalking and devouring its food. Doesn’t this sound like a comic book your readers would love? Interesting insets of information narrate even more facts about each insect. Who could resist reading this enthralling tome!?
Added to Best Books about Bugs
Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff by National Geographic Kids
These origin stories of everything from skateboards to pickles and candles answer all the questions you didn’t even know you had. Read how the ancient Egyptians filled hollow reeds with ink made from soot, oil, or gelatin, to make the world’s first pens. And while “Ancient Egyptians didn’t invent the cake–they did come up with the idea of birthdays.” Ancient Romans added a cake to the celebration. Who knew!? YOU WILL if you read this book — and a lot more to boot. Surprising histories of everyday things plus eye-pleasing layouts make this book an accessible, interesting read.
A Wild Child’s Guide to Endangered Animals by Millie Marotta
Any child who loves the natural world, especially the animals, will be obsessed with this oversized book. Richly illustrated in earthy tones, the author shares information about 43 endangered animals from the oceans to the forests, mountaintops to the tundra; all who need protection. You may be as surprised at some of the animals in danger including caribou and giraffes. Plus, I suspect that you’ll learn about a menagerie of new species you didn’t know about before as you pour over the pages.
A World of Princesses Coloring Book illustrated by Trisha Hautea
If you’re looking for princesses beyond Disney, you need to get this multicultural coloring book. It’s filled with a rich variety of princesses from China to England and Swaziland. The illustrations invite detailed coloring — I think kids will fill the pages in no time.
James Rhodes’ Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound illustrated by Martin O’Neill
The Double Dangerous Book for Boys by Hal Iggulden
Remember the wildly popular book, The Dangerous Book for Boys? This is the long-awaited sequel! Styled to look like a book from my own childhood, this is a dense volume of SO MUCH CONTENT to read and absorb! You’ll find
- information (12 Ceasars)
- directions (finding the height of a tree)
- experiments (The Fire Snake)
- stories, tips (solving a Rubic’s cube)
- activities (the endless card)
- games (The Moon is Round)
- how-tos (how to write a thank you letter)
- quotes (quotes from Shakespeare)
- puzzles (math puzzles)
- book recommendations
- and more
I can’t even begin to cover the scope of this book — I, myself, have barely cracked the surface of all the content inside. Ditch the phones and pick up this book. It will entertain and educate children for more hours than I can predict.
Terrifyingly Awesome Technology 27 Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connoly
Don’t miss the latest well-written, visually appealing STEM book in the Experiments for Young Scientists series! Learn about amazing technology as well as potentially terrifying ways it could be used or go wrong. Each chapter shows you also how technology makes life better, how it works, and why it was developed. Finally, each chapter contains a related experiment with readable, step-by-step instructions.
For example, in the Reusable Rockets chapter, you’ll learn about the research behind making this technology and how they’d benefit us financially as well as related technology from the NASA Space Shuttle. The terrifying part is if it was used by a terrorist organization or failed and killed people like has happened in the past. A related experiment to try is to make your own reusable rocket with a mug, Alka-Seltzer, water, and an empty plastic bottle.
The Art of Disney Costuming Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between by Jeff Kurtti and the Staff of the Walt Disney Archives
If you’re a fan of Disney and artwork and costuming and beautiful things, you’ll love this gorgeous book as much as we do. My kids and I can’t get enough of these full-color, stunning photos of favorite costumes plus the fascinating details about the costume designers and outfits are completely enthralling. (And make me wish I could be a costume designer, too!) The book goes in-depth to the thinking behind the designs including the fabrics used. You’ll read how Cinderella’s design was meant to look weightless, creating an almost liquid blue appearance. And that nine different versions were created for the live-action movie. For each costume, you’ll also read a biography of the illustrator and designer. For example, read the background of Michael Kutsche who created character illustrations for in Oz The Great and Powerful as well as the background of Gary Jones who used Kutsche’s illustrations to design the costumes. This book is a feast for your eyes filled with surprising, memorable works of art!
Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner: Revoltingly True Tales of Foul Food, Icky Animals, Horrible History, and More by Anna Claybourne
Know any kids (or adults) who like all things gross? Because this book is perfect for them! Spit and toilets and boogers and maggots…everything disgusting is covered in full-color photographs and detailed text. Awesomely distasteful!
The Book of Kings: Magnificent Monarchs, Notorious Nobles, and Distinguished Dudes Who Ruled the World by Caleb Magyar and Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Starting with Hammurabi, the famous Babylon king whose code influenced all of history up to the present day, this encyclopediac book of monarchs and leaders from cultures and civilizations around the world gives readers valuable historical perspective and understanding. But it doesn’t stop there. Surprisingly, this book also contains mythical kings (Aragon) as well as kings of creativity, action, change, and knowledge, including people like Babe Ruth, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Carl Sagan.
Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts For the Problem-Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski
In the canon of coding books, this stands apart because it teaches kids computational thinking and coding without using a computer. At all. Grab a notebook and get ready for clear directions and scaffolded instructions to learn algorithms, optimization, loops, constraints, binary code, and much more. Throughout the book, you’ll take an adventure, read your objectives and clear explanations of the concepts then write code. But there’s more. You’ll find activities, puzzles, and biographies. It’s easy-to-follow in bite-sized chunks that sequentially build upon one another.
Added to: Best Coding Books for Kids