When you’re reading aloud to your young children ages 2 to 5, preschool age, don’t forget to mix in nonfiction books with your fiction books, too!
Read aloud to your toddlers and preschoolers. As you read, pour over the pictures and discuss what you notice. Also, talk about the information.
Watch as children learn new words and add to their background information. Background knowledge is important for their reading comprehension because it gives readers a schema for making sense of information in fiction and in nonfiction.
Here are some great nonfiction books to get your growing readers started with nonfiction books.
Nonfiction Books for Young Readers Ages 2 – 5
100 First Words Nature by Edward Underwood
In this oversized sturdy board book, graphic illustrations plus large words teach readers nouns in the garden, seaside, woods, forest, jungle, cold, and seasons. Each page includes a few flaps to lift for a surprise illustration and word.
Animal Atlas Pop Up Book by Ingela P. Arrenius
Each two page spread shows a continent (or two) and some of the animals that live there with a pop up and a lift-the flap with a factoid behind the flap. Africa has a pop-up elephant and a lift-the-flap hippo, for example. Bold, graphic art is simple and appealing for young learners.
ABC Animals! An Alphabet Adventure from Anteater to Zebra by Stephen F. Majsak
On sturdy board pages, oversized, full-color photographs show impressive animals from A to Z. The rhyming text moves readers through the book of camels and ducks; meerkats and newts; sea lions and tortoises, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning about animals and the alphabet.
Odd Beasts Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Gareth Lucas
Cute rhymes and illustrations provide a playful introduction to unique and cool animals in a darling board book. “This spider has two horns.” Back matter shares factual information about each creature like the Long-Horn Orb-Weaver Spider.
Supermoms! by Heather Lang and Jamie Harper, illustrated by Jamie Harper
Did you know animals are moms, too? And they make safe, comfy homes like the groundhogs and red-knobbed hornbill. They’re creative with transportation — just look at a wolf spider mom carrying her spiderlings on her back or an American alligator carrying her hatchlings in her mouth. Fascinating facts about animal supermoms are paired with engaging comic-style illustrations.
Who’s Hiding on the River? by Katharine McEwen
Learn about river animals with more than 20 flaps and facts. Animals are hiding on the river at different times of the day. Who’s hiding? A swan, a fish, an ermine, and more…
Who’s Hiding in the Woods? by Katherine McEwen
Who’s hiding around the woods? Lift the flap to see who they are and read facts about each one.
Black Cowboys by Kyla Ryman, photographed by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher
Predictable text (“This cowboy is . . . laughing“) and photographs show black cowboys and cowgirls riding horses in this well-done, diverse board book.
Farm Animals Look & Learn National Geographic Kids
Vibrant photographs with simple text introduce children to farm animals-– cows, chickens, sheep, horse, and pigs.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
Incredible, beautifully illustrated African-American women fill the pages of this little board book. They are astronauts, leaders, singers, dancers, reporters, actresses, and painters; the trailblazers that show little girls many possibilities. Framable, expressive, and captivating illustrations, showing Harrison’s Disney animation roots.
Tinyville Town I’m a Veterinarian by Brian Biggs
Simple text narrates a veterinarian’s day from the morning at home to her busy office and back home again. Even though the text is short and sweet, this nonfiction book does a great job of showing preschoolers what a vet is and does — that a vet is someone who works with animals.
Jungle illustrated by Jane Ormes
Learn about animal families. For each animal, you’ll read what the daddy is called, the mommy is called, and then lift-the-flap under the mommy to read what the babies are called. “A daddy peafowl is called a peacock. A mommy peafowl is called a peahen. Baby peafowl are called peachicks.” Plus pandas, elephants, tigers, and the group names for each. I learned a few things from this darling book.
Except Antarctica! by Todd Sturgell (informational fiction)
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.
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 birds 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. So fun!
Let’s Go for a Walk by Ranger Hamza, illustrated by Kate Kronreif
Ranger Hamza invites you to go for a sensory nature walk! He asks you to notice the colors and then to find things that are red, big and small things, different shapes, bugs, and letters and numbers. Then, he asks you to feel the textures, smell the smells, and so forth. Brightly colored illustrations and text scattered around the pages, this book really engages readers and will teach them to notice the world with all their senses.
Contrary Creatures by James Weinberg
What a lovely introduction to animals using simple descriptions and unique illustrations! “Some move very slowly . . . but some are fast.” You’ll find yourself with plenty to discuss. Kids will enjoy the variety of creatures and the unique, dotty illustrations.
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. After a time of grief, a new flower grows…
All the Birds in the World by David Opie
As the narrator talks about what makes 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 young readers a key to the names of the birds on each page.
The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley, illustrated by Billy Aronson
This is a Peg and Cat picture book about a perfect picnic that goes totally crazy with runaway chickens. Peg is “totally freaking out” and needs to get the one hundred chickens back in the coop. Peg and Cat must solve the chicken problem fast. Kids love the illustrations, the problem-solving characters, and the silly story.
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien
Kids LOVE this cartoon-like blobfish with a big personality who interjects opinions about the book’s photograph and textual information. Talk about a nonfiction home run for growing readers.
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 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, kids will experience the story with all their senses.
Seashells More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Informative and beautiful, this nonfiction picture book will make you long to visit the seashore to find your own seashells. Written in dual-layered figurative language text, readers will read the basics of shells in the first layer of bigger text size. The secondary text elaborates on the specific types of shells. Soft watercolor illustrations show the seashells in the ocean and beach.
Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura
Introduce children ages 2 – 5 to the crocodile in this picture book that could double as an easy nonfiction reader. Informative and awe-inspiring.
A Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray
A mix of groan-worthy penguin jokes and cool penguin facts, this is a delightful nonfiction graphic novel for beginning readers. The illustrations often answer the questions posed by the narrator penguin and are almost always silly.
Yummy Yoga: Playful Poses and Tasty Treats by Joy Bauer, photographs by Bonnie Stephens
What an adorable nonfiction book for young readers! Yummy Yoga features yoga posed by fruits and vegetables as well as kids. Do the pose then lift-the-flap for a delicious kid-friendly recipe such as a berry-banana smoothie or a corn on the cob recipe. Poses include triangle, lotus, plank, warrior II, tree, cat, downward dog, and forward bend.
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 young reader kids.
Mary Blair’s Unique Flair: The Girl Who Became One of the Disney Legends by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Brittney Lee
Mary Blair’s life as an artist took her to Disney where her paintings captured pure magic on paper. In fact, she created the concept art for Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan as well as designed the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disneyland. She used her endless imagination to creatively pair unique colors, an emerald world, a fuchsia sea, or a turquoise moon, and create happily ever afters. Her story sparkles just like the luminous mixed-media illustrations which include colorful cut paper artwork. (My favorite!)
Sisters Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter
Winters beautifully captures the essence of the Williams sisters’ lives and friendship, giving children an inspiring narrative story that shows, not tells, with beautiful, captivating art. See the girls share a bed in their Compton, CA house then get up in the mornings to learn tennis from their dad, even cleaning up the trash on the courts every morning. Practicing, focusing, practicing,…training together, playing together. Preschool readers will learn about the sister bond and perseverance.
Tiger The Police Dog (Doggy Defenders)
Tiger is a Belgian Malinois police dog. Tiger works with a police officer to protect the city. Tiger sniffs for danger in different places like a school or a metro trash can. Perfect to introduce young readers to working dogs.
The Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Minimal text and detailed illustrations show children ages 2 – 5 the variety of animals who build nests and dams and shelter. “Lodges on ponds, Shelter from storms.” The book doesn’t say which animals are in the pictures but I like this because it will promote rich conversations. Then it’s time for babies to be born. The structures will become home to the baby animals. “Mole pups slumber, Bees swarm the air, Timid fawns bond, Wee eaglets stare.“
My First Book of New York by Ingela P. Arrhenius
You don’t have to be from New York to love this beautiful oversized book featuring the many famous locations in the city. Read about each place or area in a two page spread with illustrations and vocabulary words. For example, the Rockefeller Center shows the people ice skating. On the opposite side see labeled illustrations of The Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, pastrami on rye, cheesecake, Top of the Rock observation deck, and the Museum of Modern Art.
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 is a beautiful choice for preschoolers.
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?“
Underground: Subway Systems Around the World by Uijung Kim
Not only does this book show famous subway systems from international locals like London, Mexico City, and Bejing but it’s also a search-and-find book. Young readers will love the bright, colorful cartoon illustrations. I know I do!
Creature Features Dinosaurs illustrated by Natasha Durley
Colorful pages filled with dinosaurs! For each two-page spread, you’ll be asked to notice a particular feature of dinosaurs like horns, teeth, wings, beaks, armor, and more. Read the question that asks you to differentiate even further such as, “Which animal also has flippers?” or “Which creatures also have a long neck?” The dinosaurs are all labeled.