I’ve got a group of nonfiction picture books and middle grade choices to tell you about today — new publications you’ll want to know about.
I have about a kazillion (or 20) nonfiction picture book biographies but I’ll write about those in a separate post next week.
Nonfiction Picture Books for Ages 4 – 8
Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
COLORS / INDIAN HOLIDAY
I love everything about this book — illustrations that are so captivating and text that is just perfect. Two siblings gather flowers for the upcoming festival of color, Holi. Each two-page spread is a different flower and color. “They gather irises, because irises make BLUE.” When the flowers are gathered, they’re dried, and pressed into fine powders of color. Then, the family and friends gather together where they throw the brilliant colored powders into the air and onto each other. Added to: Children’s Books about India, Indian Holidays, and Indian Mythology
How Does My Home Work? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti
Inviting illustrations and clear wording make this book essential reading for kids to learn about the conveniences we take for granted like light switches, remote controls, water faucets, and so on. The book explains concepts like water treatment plants, how it gets cleaned in a process that goes out to rivers and seas or farmers. The book ends with ways kids can save energy. Love it. Added to: Standout STEM Engineering Books
One Wave at a Time: A Story about Grief and Healing by Holly Thompson, illustrations by Ashley Crowley
This is the BEST book on the death of a parent I’ve ever read. Why? Because it really captures what kids go through as well as how parents support kids in their grief. This boy describes the waves of emotion that he feels after the death of his dad. “some waves / are fear waves / that curl me in a ball” There are some days with no waves, just flatness. “I’m like a robot / as I ride the bus, walk the halls” He narrates about the group where he can share about his special person that died. At homes, he adds to his memory box about his dad, makes a grief first aid kit, and paints a Memory Chair to share dad memories. What a healthy view of grief! “When Mom cries now, I don’t hide / when Ben whines now, I don’t (usually) yell / and when I spy a wave, I inhale slow” Added to: Helpful Children’s Books About Grief, Loss, and Death
Nonfiction Books Ages 8 – 12
Impossible Inventions: Ideas That Shouldn’t Work by Matgorrata Mycielska, Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizilinski
HISTORY / INVENTIONS
Kids who love nonfiction and inventions will devour 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!
Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army by Enigma Alberti and Scott Wagener
Have you ever heard of the Ghost Army of WWII? Me, neither. It’s the most bizarre (read: incredible) idea that actually worked. This group of soldiers fought with with fake equipment in order to fool the Germans perception of Allied troop movement and size. It involved dummies, camouflage, noise machines, and blow-up tanks. Kids will enjoy the easy flow of the story as well as solving the interactive codebreaking within the text. The book contains clues and decoders to help you as you read.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
There have been a plethora of children’s books about inspirational women in the last few years. But what makes Brazen stand out among the crowd is that it’s written in comics and in stories rather than an expository text with one illustration. Kids love stories. Kids love graphic novels. Put those together and you’ve got one must-read book! Oh, and I’m fascinated by the colors used to illustrate these comics — they’re unusual and very visually appealing. Some of these stories will be familiar (Temple Grandin) but most of them will be new to you (Clementine Delait, Nzinga, or Sonita Alizadeh.)
History’s Mysteries (National Geographic Kids) by Kitson Jazynka
History-loving kids will enjoy these mysteries! They’ll learn what the mysteries are, the clues about them, and the theories that might answer the questions. Like the disappearance of the Mayan civilization to mystery of the monoliths on Easter Island. You won’t be able to put this fascinating book down — and if you’re like me, you’ll be sharing all the new info with your family and friends. Because did you even know that … there’s a gold treasure somewhere in Arizona left by Jacob Waltz in 1891? Follow the clues to this mystery and others. Colorful illustrations and photographs, an eye-catching layout, and interesting content make this a nonfiction must-read.
Heroes of Black History TIME KIDS
This is four books in one — biographies of Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama. The text is readable plus the photographs and illustrations make it appealing to kids. This book will make a good addition in the classroom and school libraries only if more coverage on these popular figures is needed. Regrettably, these four people already have been covered by many biographers. I would have liked to see more unique subject choices.
Turn This Book Into a Beehive! and 19 Other Experiments and Activities That Explore the Amazing World of Bees by Lynn Brunelle, illustrated by Anna-Maria Jung
Are there kids in the world that would sit down with this nonfiction book on bees? Maybe. But I think this book’s almost 100 pages of information and activities probably works better in a homeschool curriculum or with a parent / teacher facilitator. I do like the activities though– things like using Cheetos to make pollen or making anti-pest garlic spray for plants or making pop-bottle hives with straws– but in general, I find the book to be a tad overwhelming. Parents and teachers will want to use the table of contents to be purposeful about how you use this book’s resources and activities. The last about 100 pages are blank colored paper for making paper tubes to insert inside your DIY hive made with the book jacket.
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