Exceptional Nonfiction Books for Kids
Packs by Hannah Salyer
Animals in the Sky by Sara Gillingham
Riddles prompt kids to guess the animal in the constellations then check to see if they’re right with lift-the-flap answers and more information. “I have a big bushy mane, a long tail, and a loud roar. I am the king of the jungle! What animal in the sky am I? I am the Lion. My brightest star is called Regulus, which means “little king.”” The white and gold text and illustrations pop out off the page.
Who’s Hiding on the River? by Katharine McEwen
ECOSYSTEMS / ANIMALS
Learn about river animals with more than 20 flaps and facts. Animals are hiding on the river throughout the different times of day. Who’s hiding? A swan, a fish, an ermine, and more…
Who’s Hiding in the Woods? by Katherine McEwen
ECOSYSTEMS / ANIMALS
Who’s hiding around the woods? Lift the flap to see who they are and read facts about each one.
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.
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.
The Nest that Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter
Starting with Wren’s building a nest to sitting on her eggs which hatch and growing fledglings, this spring story of new life consistently ends each stanza with a lovely repeating line, “..the nest that wren built.” Lyrical and descriptive with warm brown illustrations, experience the story with all your senses. “This is the tuft of rabbity fur, plucked from a harp, persnickety burr to warm the nest that Wren built.” You’ll hear the chirps, feel the velvety moss, feathers, and thread, and see the scrawny hatchlings.
Added to: Best Mentor Texts for Descriptive Writing.
Animal Gallery by Brian Wildsmith
Although there are many books about the nouns for collectives of animals, this book stands out for its lush illustrations. A bloat of hippopotamuses shows large, expressive hippos. Colorful parents on green and dark brown backgrounds depict a pandemonium of parrots. You’ll also find a stare of owls, a prickle of hedgehogs, and a hover of trout, just to name a few.
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 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.
Cactus and Flower: A Book About Life Cycles by Sarah Williamson
A book about friendship and life cycles, endings and beginnings, grief and joy, this is a special story you won’t want to miss, illustrated in bright, appealing colors and shapes. Cactus and Flower enjoy spending their days together, especially “Butterfly days” when the butterflies visit the flowering cactus. The friends play games and look at the stars, they enjoy every moment. And as Cactus grows taller, Flower grows, too which means Flower loses petals and soon is gone forever. Cactus is sad. Time passes. Cactus remembers his friend fondly. And soon, a little green bud appears.
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.
Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
This is the unflinching story of a real oil spill in the ocean that killed wildlife like sea otters and sea birds. Even though many people tried to help, the oil spread and spread. It’s an illuminating, honest look showing the devastation of pollution.
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.
Hoot and Howl Across the Desert by Vassilik Tzomaka
This oversized book explores some of the driest places on earth from the Antarctica to the Sahara with information located around each two-page spread. The unique neon folk-style illustrations aren’t appealing to me personally but I can appreciate the colorfulness.
You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk
Gorgeous oversized illustrated pages capture the natural beauty in our National Parks with lyrical text that invites us into the experience with all our senses. “…beneath the soaring doorways of stone and peaks that pierce the ceiling of clouds…from every river, star, and stone comes the eternal refrain: you are home.” Back matter shares more about the parks and animal in the book. This rich ode to nature that is a must-read mentor text for descriptive writing.
Walk This Underground World by Sam Brewster
GEOGRAPHY / LANDSCAPES
Take a walk in different parts of the world starting with a busy Canadian city and continuing to Egypt and Poland’s salt-rock mines. With over 80 flaps, you’ll lift flaps to see what’s under the ground and read more about it. Under the Flaming Cliffs, for example, discover the dinosaur fossils that paleontologists carefully dig out. Kids will spend hours pouring over this little book. Seemingly random, I like that the back map ties it all together by plotting each location.
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.
A Woman in the House (and Senate) by Ilene Cooper, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Informative and engaging biographies about famous women of our congress starting with the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1917 named Jeannette Rankin continuing to the present day. Well-written with a lovely layout.
Whose Track Is That? by Stan Tekiela
Clues paired with a photo of animal tracks prompt readers to guess the animal who makes the track and fits the clues. Turn the page to find the answer and learn information about each North American animal like the bobcat, raccoon, and robin. Easy to read with colorful photographs, this is an appealing choice for preschool and elementary age kids.
Seeds by Carme Lemniscates
Read facts about actual seeds that grow plants. Then read about metaphorical seeds like smiles and anger. Both grow whatever seed is planted.
Discovering Energy by Eduard Altarriba & others
Eye-catching layouts make this illustrated informational book appealing to readers who will learn about energy, the different kinds of energy, fossil fuels, nuclear fission, green energy, and much more.
The Everything Kids’ Baseball Book by Greg Jacobs
Filled with adorable cartoon illustrations, fact-filled sidebars, and activities, this comprehensive book will teach kids everything they need to know about the sport of baseball. From the rules of the game to the history and the leagues, you’ll soon be a baseball expert.