Nonfiction book reading is so important for kids — and not just because Common Core says it is best. Kids need to be able to read for information as well as for story. Not only that, nonfiction builds essential background knowledge that help fiction comprehension. But most kids spend four minutes or less each day reading nonfiction.
I think that’s because they haven’t found good nonfiction books. At least that’s part of the problem.
Let’s take away that problem with this list of great nonfiction book recommendations! I love all these books so much, I think it’s my favorite nonfiction book round up EVER. See if you agree.
Best Nonfiction Books
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.
The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic by Kanani K.M. Lee & Adam Wallenta
I highly recommend this well-written and educational comic book! George, a normal skate boarder kid, is also Geo, a superhero who can transport back in time to learn about geology. In this story, he’s back to Pangea where he learns about plate tectonics first hand! The story goes back and forth between George and Geo seamlessly. Fantastic!
The Boy in Number Four by Kara Kootstra, illustrated by Reagan Thomson
I enjoyed this picture book about Bobby Orr’s life as a young boy playing hockey — how hard he worked and how much he loved playing.
Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald
My daughter loved this book so much she read all the facts to me throughout her reading of it. It’s in a picture book format with lovely illustrations making it enticing to read. Did you know that . . .
. . . zebras are attracted to things that are black-and-white striped – just like they are. If you painted black-and-white stripes on a wall, a zebra would walk toward it.
. . . worker ants in a colony don’t sleep all day or all night. Instead, they each take about 250 naps throughout the day, each nap lasting just longer than a minute.
It’s All About Me-Ow by Hudson Talbott
HILARIOUS! If you own or love cats, you’ll be able to relate to the quirkiness depicted in this delightful picture book about cats. It’s written to a new cat, explaining cat life with diagrams and punny definitions that are so funny. My favorite page is:
Humans May Forget That You Are The Center Of Their World. Here’s how to fix the problem:
Race wildly around the house for no reason.
Stare at them — They’ll wonder why, but you won’t tell them.
Stop eating your favorite food, even if you’re hungry. You have to keep them guessing.
. . .
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
Get it? Now and then? This lovely informative nonfiction picture book shows us what’s happening NOW that we can credit to BEN. It’s simple and to the point, making it a fantastic nonfiction picture book for all ages.
Now . . . bifocals are very common. Bifocals combine two sets of lenses into one pair of glasses. The bottom lens helps see near, and the top lens helps see far.
Ben . . . originally designed bifocals for himself after he grew tired of switching between two pair of glasses.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, USA with Bret Witter, photographs by Dan Dion
Man, this book made me tear up right away – it’s powerful to witness the bond between a service dog, Tuesday and his person, Luis who experiences post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities like how Tuesday helps Luis’ nightmares and helps him balance as he walks down the subway stairs. This picture book follows a typical day in the life of Luis and Tuesday from breakfast to bedtime. The photographs are gorgeous! The text is totally perfect — not too much, just right. I highly recommend this amazing nonfiction book — it will tug at your heartstrings. And, if you want to read about Luis and Tuesday, get his full-length memoir, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.
Tiger by Suzi Eszterhas
I love how this picture book is told as a story, following tiger cubs as they grow up in India. It’s an easier way for kids to relate and store the information they’re learning. And the photographs are spectacular! We see the tigers in their rocky cliff cave, learn that the cubs won’t grow into all their stripes for two years, watch the family move to a new forest den, follow as the cubs learn to hunt, and find ourselves in awe as we see how big the tigers get in two short years. A page of tiger facts finishes out this book.
Elephant by Suzi Eszterhas
Just like Tiger, we journey along with an elephant calf as he grows up. I found this nonfiction book to be fascinating and highly recommend it!
Sports Illustrated Kids Football Then to Wow!
This amazing nonfiction book makes ME, a non-sports fan, get interested in football. The layout and design plus the photographs make me want to devour all the football facts and info. I highly recommend this for any football fan – it’s packed full of information about football back in the day (1930s) and now days. Excellent!
Time for Kids All Access Your Behind the Scenes Look at the Coolest People, Places, and Things!
A mix of entertainment, history, geography, pop culture, and science, this awesome lift and peel the page book has something for all interests. One of my favorite pages is the cast of The Hobbit with make up, costumes, and wigs on and without. Learn about pandas, the rainforest, the White House, King Tut and how money is made– among other things.
Time for Kids All Access Your Behind the Scenes Pass to the Coolest Things in Sports
Your kids are going to LOVE the lift and look pages – they are translucent and lift up to reveal another image underneath. Like the page of a downhill skier, lift the top page and you can see her body’s muscles and organs. SO cool. From monster trucks to stadiums that convert from football to ice, this is one of the best nonfiction books that will keep your kids learning and reading.
Sports Illustrated Kids What Are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports
Stats and sports go hand in hand for sports enthusiasts, right? Flip through this dense book of photographs and you’ll see numbers pop out —
277 No-Hitters. At the start of the 2014 season, a total of 277 n0-hitters had been thrown in major league baseball history. . .
20 Wins in a Row. Only 4 teams have ever won 20 or more games in a row during an NBA regular season. . .
100 Assists in a Season. When Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins scored 139 points in 1970-1, . . .
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio
If you’re like us and love quotes, this is the book for you. Even if you haven’t read the book Wonder, you will still find the quotes ch chosen n here (precepts) meaningful and thought-provoking from Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.
940 Saturdays: Family Activities and a Keepsake Journal by Harley A. Rotbart, M.D.
From birth to 19, there are 940 Saturdays. Dr. Rotbart counted. He created this journal for you to write down what’s happening each week — thoughts, memories, and milestones. By the author of No Regrets Parenting.