Cooler than fiction
Kids, too, love stories. But the best stories aren’t always fiction. Many times, nonfiction can be just as interesting, even for young people to read. The best nonfiction books for kids make them want to learn more about the world around them by telling them about real people, amazing events, different cultures, and the beauty of nature. It’s not just facts that open up the world for kids when they read. They learn how to analyze and think critically, too. People and events can be told in narrative nonfiction, which tells stories about people and events in a captivating “story” format; active nonfiction, which shows how to do something fun or interesting; and expository literature, which shows information in beautiful language and illustrations to make it more interesting. Children in your life can use this list to figure out what kind of nonfiction they like best. We’ve put all of them on it.
We asked teachers, librarians, and parents for help when we made this list. We also looked at books that won awards, were on “best book” lists, or got attention for being good. From science to history, as well as the best biographies and diversity-themed children’s books, we also made sure to include all of them. They may be the best books ever, and your child will be interested in the best books for teens and so much more after reading these. There are a lot of them, but you know your kids or students better than we do: In different ways, kids may be ready for these books at different times. This is because of their emotional and academic level. Happy reading, everyone!
Babies Around the World by Puck
For ages 0+
Children are never too young to start learning about the world, even if they don’t know it yet. In this simple board book, a child from a different city around the world says hello in English and the language of that city. This includes New York City, Mexico City, Paris, Cape Town, Cairo, and Tokyo. Bright and fun illustrations show country flags and city landmarks that older toddlers can talk about, too. It was written in 2017, and it’s a great way to learn about different cultures and countries. A good way to get young kids excited about reading is to start them off with stories like this.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
For ages 0+
For babies, author Vashti Harrison has made her best-selling book about strong black women, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, into a 2018 board book. In this book, women who stood out and stood up are shown. Even the youngest readers are encouraged to do the same. Cute pictures of real-life heroes and role models help Black children see themselves in picture books. When you read books with your mom and daughter, this one is a great start.
Counting with Frida by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein
For ages 0+
Babies can read even a book about numbers because it is real. As they learn these basic things, this board book from 2018 is simple and sweet. It also features the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. In addition, it also has numbers in both Spanish and English, which is good for both bilingual kids and people who only speak English. It’s never too early to start learning more than one language. Nonfiction books for kids at this age should be all about math, language, and art. This one is just what they should be at this age. You can also buy board books about other Hispanic women who have made a difference.
Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward
For ages 3+
Preschoolers will learn about the different types of nests birds make, from woodpeckers to penguins, in this 2014 book that is full of fun rhymes and beautiful pictures. For older kids, each bird has a little extra text that gives more information about how they build their nests. This allows the book to grow with the kids who read it. Illustrator Steve Jenkins is a winner of the Caldecott Medal, which is given to the best picture books for kids. Because the book is written by a woman, it encourages both boys and girls to be interested in science and nature.
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick
For ages 4+
When Christopher Robin went to the London Zoo with his father, author A.A. Milne, he saw a real-life bear named Winnie. Winnie was the inspiration for the character of Winnie-the-Pooh. This best-selling Caldecott Medal winner tells the amazing true story of Winnie. The book ends with old photos and documents for kids who want to know more about Winnie and the vet/soldier who saved her, Harry Colebourn. It’s a great example of narrative nonfiction for kids that reads like a story. Colebourn’s great-granddaughter wrote this 2015 book, which is a favorite of young Pooh fans and could be one of the best children’s books ever written. It was written in 2015.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
For ages 5+
It’s possible to teach complicated things like immigration in age-appropriate ways, like in this beautiful memoir about the author’s journey to the United States from Mexico and her love of books and libraries. Pura Belpré Illustrator Award: The Pura Belpré Illustrator Award is given to a work of art by or about a Latino/Latina author or illustrator. This award is given to a work of art about Latinx culture. One of the best books written by Latinx authors you’ll want to read with your kids right now has beautiful, dreamlike illustrations. The story is positive and uplifting, and it will make you want to read it again and again.
Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins
For ages 5+
With a nonfiction book for kids about crocodiles, you can help your child become more interested in animals. They love crocodiles. Fun illustrations that show a lot of teeth keep kids interested as they learn about how crocodiles eat. Young people who love animals know that some animals eat each other, and caregivers should know that this text is honest about the cycle of life in animals. Index and notes about species are also in the 2019 book for people who want to become more interested in animals. To find free online books for children to read, you can search the best websites when your kids are in kindergarten and can use the computer. You can look for free online books like this one.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
For ages 5+
You’re never too old to learn something new. The real-life woman who learned to read at the age of 116 is Mary Walker. This inspiring biography encourages young people to keep learning for the rest of their lives. It also teaches about American history from the Civil War to the civil rights era. This is one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Notable Children’s Books of 2018. This is one of the best books written by African-American authors. Oge Mora, a Caldecott Honor winner who made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list in Art & Style, also made the list.
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
For ages 5+
Kids love “Did You Know?” facts as much as we do! What kids know and love is the Statue of Liberty. This book has fun facts about it that they’ll find interesting. Even New Yorkers don’t know that Lady Liberty is in the middle of a run, with her right heel raised. Why? The author thinks she’s walking out to sea to show people how to get to the United States. Her Right Foot, a nonfiction book for kids, won the 2018 Orbis Pictus Award, which honors books that are good for kids. It also won Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Book of the Year and the School Library Journal’s Best Picture Book of the Year. It’s one of the best audiobooks for a family road trip, especially if you’re going to New York City. Actor and voice artist Dion Graham tells the story in this one.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
For ages 5+
There is a picture book version of this best-selling book and Oscar-nominated movie about four Black female mathematicians who worked together to help the U.S. land on the moon. This book tells their story. When this 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book has pictures by Laura Freeman, it brings the story of these trailblazers to life in a way that young people can understand. The audiobook was read by Bahni Turpin, a well-known narrator. Check your library’s website for free audiobooks for kids, like this one.