Short Nonfiction Books for Reluctant, Struggling, & Wiggly Readers

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Struggling readers, reluctant readers, and wiggly readers all benefit from exposure to short nonfiction books or nonfiction book that are in so many sections, they feel “short”. The benefit of these books is that readers can jump around in their reading sequence. That means that kids can read whatever strikes their fancy in any order that they wish.

For those wiggly readers, they can take breaks in nonfiction without losing comprehension momentum.

Because reading nonfiction is a different kind of comprehension experience for the reader. Which means it’s essential that we give kids plenty of nonfiction reading practice.

Whenever I assessed my students in comprehension, almost always their fiction comprehension was an entire year or two higher than their nonfiction comprehension. That’s because most kids read WAY more fiction than nonfiction.

Give these short nonfiction books a try with your students and children. Have fun with it! Let them read to you the parts that they find most interesting. You’re going to learn a lot.


Tips for Nonfiction Book Selection

Get books with great photographs.
Seriously.  If the book has photographs, it’s much more engaging to readers. Plus, a book with borders, different colors, and colorful backgrounds appeal to young readers.

Watch text to picture ratio.
If there is a ton of text crammed into a page, it’s not appealing to read. Look for books with not too many words all crammed together. Look for text boxes and blank space on the page. That’s less intimidating and way more exciting to read.

Pick something your child is interested in.
I only read non-fiction books in which I’m interested in. I just cannot motivate to read the history books my husband enjoys. Same for your kids, right?

nonfictionTeach features of non-fiction
It’s often helpful to teach kids about the features of non-fiction books.  Unlike fiction novels, non-fiction books don’t have to be read cover to cover.  Teach kids about:

–          Table of Contents

–          Glossary

–          Index

–          Titles and headings

–          Bold words

–          Captions

–          Charts and diagrams

Start with that and let me know how it goes!

Nonfiction Books for Reluctant Readers

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.


Summer Reading: New Books for 8- to 9-Year-Olds 
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. 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.”

2021 Almanac

It might take a kid 100 hours to read this book. Or more. (YAY!!) The beauty of it, besides the dense content of fascinating facts, is that kids can skip around to what interests them to read at that moment. As you expect from National Geographic Kids, the layout, colors, and photographs are fantastic making the information jump out at the reader. This is a great gift for kids who love nonfiction books of facts. Or any kid actually.

Kids universally love these weird and random facts but that’s not the only awesome thing about Weird But True books…The book is so fun and interesting, it is a completely different reading experience. Why? Because there are lots of colorful photographs plus just a one sentence fact. It’s 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.


Weird but True 8
Do your kids love the Weird But True! books as much as mine? This new edition contains 300 all-new wild and wacky facts and pictures. Want to hear a few?

  • The 1904 World’s Fair featured a life-sized elephant made of almonds.
  • Moonbow = a nighttime rainbow
  • Scientists found sharks living in an underwater volcano.
  • Octopuses have blue blood and nine brains.


The Best Greek Mythology Books for Kids
Weird but True! Greek Mythology by Sarah Wassner Flynn, illustrated by Chip Wass
From National Geographic Kids, this book is dense, colorful, and info-packed. It’s almost too busy for my tastes but I’m old — kids like this style. I like the writing a lot — it’s kid-appropriate while sticking to the basics of each myth. Because know that much of the Greek myths aren’t always g or pg (think violence and sex) so I really appreciate the lack of TMI in this book!


Weird But True Sports 300 Wacky Facts Must-Read NonFiction for Kids
Weird but True SPORTS: 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletics 
I wasn’t sure what to expect but again, National Geographic outdid itself. 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 jet sprint boats! Highly recommended. ALSO READ: Awesome Sports Books for Kids
Other Weird But True Books:
Interesting Informational Books for Kids
Totally Wacky Facts About History
by Cari Meister
This reminds me of the Strange But True books only about history and from a different publisher. And, I LOVE IT! This little book makes history interesting to kids — it’s filled with colorful photos and illustrations and yes, wacky facts. Here are a few to get you started:
Early Chinese spies flew on large kites to gather information about their enemies.
Ancient Romans were the first to record seeing UFOs. 
Napoleon suffered from ailurophobia. that means he was afraid of cats. 
Crazy cool, right? It makes you want to know more!


minecraft books
The Minecraft Essential Handbook: An Official Mojang Book by Scholastic
Learn how to find resources, make a shelter, craft tools, protect yourself from monsters and more basics in this guide to surviving Minecraft. My daughter loves this series of books.


5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3
If you like LOTS of facts, packed together for your detailed reading pleasure, you’ll like this gigantic book about cool topics such as bubble gum and ice cream to the outer space and the North Pole! Great for curious kids who love to be the trivia expert in the family.


Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017  
Baby Animals
(Animal Planet) by Dorothea DePrisco
Gorgeous photos and interesting facts make this one of those books you can easily flip through to find the photos and interesting facts about young animals that you want to read. Plus, the cuteness factor is off the charts.


Will the fossilized dino poop entice you to read this book? It just might help you turn the pages to learn more about dinosaurs. The book is well-organized and informative with full color, glossy pages and kid-friendly layouts making it a good choice for elementary school dinosaur fans.


Best Nonfiction Children's Books of 2017
Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-out, Fun-tastic Facts 
by National Geographic
This is like the Weird But True books only not as short. You’ll look at full color, incredible photographs and read cool facts and stats about tons of things — hearts, sea creatures, chocolate, and Halloween. It’s un-put-downable! Like did you know this– “The FDA allows up to  8 insect parts in the average chocolate bar“? Or that “Some giant jellyfish have tentacles that could stretch one-third the length of a football field.” Also, “Chiroptophobia is the fear of bats.” Don’t you think your kids would like this?


Summer Reading: New Books for 8- to 9-Year-Olds
100 Things to Be When You Grow Up
by National Geographic
Some kids change their mind every few weeks about what job they want to do when they grow up — but imagine what they would do if they only knew ALL the possible jobs! Because I don’t think even grown-ups know about some of these 100 jobs. This book shares the details about 100 really cool jobs along with gorgeous photographs (of course). And, it’s all presented in a very kid-friendly way. (Of course.) I’m giving this book to both my kids because I think they’ll be excited to learn about these unusual jobs: pet food taster, perfumer, crossword puzzle writer, ice sculptor, and movie trailer editor. Wouldn’t your kids?


Don't Forget to Read Nonfiction Books with Kids  
Animals on the Move
(Animal Planet) by Dorothea DePrisco
Get schooled with this fascinating book about animals. It focuses on the how and why these animals move as well as cool facts. For example, did you know the gnu moves in a zigzag pattern when in danger and kicks up a dust storm when it spars? Ultimately, this is great for reluctant and struggling readers as well as all kids who would love reading bite-sized facts about animals.


Each section of information begins with a question like “How do you find fossils” then answers the question asked using text, photographs, and informational inserts. Dinosaur fans will be excited to learn just how scientists find, store, study, and figure out more about the dinosaurs they study — all from the bones. Ultimately, clear information with enticing photographs makes this an excellent choice for dinosaur and science enthusiasts.

Barefoot Books Amazing Places
by Miralda Colombo, Beatrice Cerocchi
Discover 15 impressive places in the world. Each place gets four pages. The first two-page spread introduces the landmark. The next 2-page spread gives you facts and information about the landmark. If your kids want to learn more about the world, they’ll love this resource.

The World’s Strangest Predators Top 40 Weird and Wonderful Carnivorous Critters
Do you know about predators? You might be surprised to learn that #40 on the list is the short-tailed shrew — a tiny terror with venom glands who is a predator to frogs and mice. Learn more about weird predators in this unique book that includes the Tasmanian devil, tentacled snake (so gross), pirate spider, and #1 — the honey badger! And to think I thought honey badgers only ate honey.

What Breathes Through Its Butt? Mind-Blowing Science Questions Answered
by Dr. Emily Grossman
If you’re looking for an informative nonfiction book with voice (HUMOR) and pizazz, this book hits all the right spots. You can’t help but love the appeal of the book which is a mixture of goofy cartoons, information in a handwritten typeface with bolded and bigger words, and funny quizzes. (What can you do to make a pineapple taste riper? a. stand it upside down b. place it in the fridge c. cut it open d. sit on it) The quizzes introduce the topic, engaging a reader’s natural curiosity. You’ll learn about eggs, muscles, escaping a crocodile’s jaw, and other much weirder topics.

Worlds Strangest Creepy-Crawlies Top 40 Weird and Wonderful Hair-Raising Bugs

Big, bold text and huge color photographs catch your attention immediately starting with #40, the elephant beetle and ending with #1, the exploding ant. Huh!? Yes. An ant from Malaysia explodes and dies — yikes — making it #1 for strangest creepy crawly. Each featured bug gets a 1- or 2-page spread including important facts, a habitat map, photographs, and ratings on the “strangeometer” for creepiness, superpowers, bug beauty, and fight factor. Irresistible!

Wild Outside Around the World with Survivorman
by Les Stroud, illustrations by Andres P. Barr
Les Stroud recounts exciting personal adventure stories of exploration and survival in all sorts of places around the world. Fascinating stories are accompanied by photos, illustrations, maps, and informational insets. I couldn’t put this book down and HIGHLY recommend it.

Do You Know Where the Animals Live?
by Peter Wohlleben
This book is organized around questions about animals. For every question, find the answers in a two-page spread of photographs and text. Lovely layouts with full-color photographs, quizzes, at-home applications, and interesting and informative information make this is a unique but worthy animal tome that will appeal to most readers. Questions include: Can animals survive on plants alone? Do animals dream? Why do elephants stomp their feet?

Books for Kids About Endangered Animal Species
Tiger Rescue: All About Tigers and How to Save Them (NG Kids)
by Kitson Jazynka
Learn about tigers so you can help save them! This excellent book gives you information, photographs, cartoons, stories, advice, infographics, and more so you’ll understand more about these amazing creatures. Other books in this incredible series include Elephant Rescue, Polar Bear Rescue, Sea Turtle Rescue, Wolf Rescue, and Lion Rescue.

Copycat Science
by Mike Barfield
Part biographies and part experiments, this nonfiction book narrated in cartoon format makes science fun! Learn about each scientist in their short biography, then apply and learn more about their area of study by doing the related experiment. Read about James Audubon then make a bird feeder. Then read about Rosalind Franklin and do an experiment about strawberry’s DNA. Topics include living things, human biology, materials, air, electricity and magnetism, forces and physics, astronomy, math, and more.
Impossible Inventions: Ideas That Shouldn’t Work by Matgorrata Mycielska, Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizilinski
Kids who love nonfiction and inventions will enjoy this fascinating book. Illustrations and text tell about the genius inventions that didn’t always work at the time but were amazing ideas anyway. Inventions like the flying car, the concentration helmet, the water clock, and the land yacht. And some ideas did work!

Short Nonfiction Books That Work for Struggling, Reluctant, and Wiggly Readers

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3 Responses

  1. Lynn Cutting says:

    Is there a way to get a printable version of the list of books that you suggested? I would like to make sure I have them in my library for teacher and student access and a printable list would be so helpful. Thank you so much.

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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