Great Nonfiction for Kids
Do you have map lovers and mini-statisticians in your class? This is a book your shelves will want. There are six sections with information and maps that reflect that section. For example, the "history" section pairs well with many biographies and books that have a historical event at the center of the text to help students build background knowledge.
In this National Geographic Kids book, Bradley Hague reveals the mysteries on the bottom of the ocean. If you thought tube worms and bacteria were the only colonizers of vents, you might be surprised to learn about predators and scavengers like the octopus and sea spider. This text is geared toward upper elementary though younger students would enjoy a picture walk and asking questions about the strange and wonderful photos.
If the cover of this book reminds you of 14 Cows for America, that's because illustrator Thomas Gonzalez has created another visual delight. Non-violent protest is the focus of this picture book with actual quotes and facts from Gandhi's march. The verse itself has the rhythm of a march and students will likely think about the role and importance of salt in a whole new way.
If you have a weak stomach, this isn't the book for you. But if you can handle it, this text is incredibly inviting for undead fans. Sections explore an attribute like Zombie Trait #3: Doesn't respond to pain. Ignores injuries or loss of body parts: Doesn't seem to mind being eaten. What follows is an explanation of that trait in nature like with the cockroach and jewel wasp where the wasp paralyzes the cockroach and turns it into a host for its young. Creepy, crawly and hard to put down.
We've all heard them. "If you sit too close to the TV, you'll ruin your eyes" and "Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis." It turns out that cracking knuckles won't give you arthritis, according to author Catherina Rondina, but it's "still not a handy exercise for your fingers." Literacy coach Samantha Munnecke recommends this book as a great source of short informational excerpts on high-interest parentisms.
For an animal who spends 70% of its time sleeping, sloths have quite a following. As passive, slow-moving animals they also have their share of problems. Costa Rica has the largest sloth orphanage in the world. It is here that Lucy Cooke, National Geographic, photographer and writer gathered material for "Little Book of Sloth." With both narrative biographies of sloth orphans and fascinating facts this book will please readers of all ages.
What would happen if there were no honeybees? Problems relating to the end of honeybee colonies are real, perplexing questions that scientists are trying to solve. Reading to satisfy our curiosities and learning about other inquirers comes together in this great book.
What looks like something out of Star Wars and was named by a nine-year-old girl? Yes, the Mars rovers: Spirit and Opportunity. This book won multiple awards for balancing the scientific facts with the stories of the scientists themselves. It's a compelling read aloud for grades 3 and up.
Imagine a prologue that opens with a third grader telling her mother, "I want to go to jail." In the author's note Cynthia Levinson writes, "History is facts. History is also stories." Through the stories of Audrey Hendricks, Washington Booker, James Stewart and Arnetta Streeter, the Birmingham Children's March is pieced together. Photographs, quotes and primary documents like segregation ordinances bring this beautiful book to life.
We treasure this book on many levels. Not only does it have the primary document language, it also provides a kid-friendly translation with vocabulary support for each amendment. There is a section about why kids should care about the Bill of Rights as well as a final chapter on the story behind it. Other books in this "What It Really Means" series include the I Have a Dream speech, the Pledge of Allegiance and more.
This book by Sandra Markle is another great example of high-interest informational text. Each page explores the "what if" with a different animal. The Vampire Bat and Shark were expected, but the Naked Mole Rat and Hippopotamus were a surprise. With this type of text, students naturally respond with informational text of their own creation. What if you had horse hooves? What if you had a cat's tail? What if you had a whale's blowhole? What if?
So if a black hole isn't a hole, what is it? Author Carolyn Cinami Decristafano answers this question for readers in this approachable and interesting book. Packed with labeled diagrams, amazing photographs and text boxes full of interesting facts, Black Hole is a feature feast. Literacy coach Samantha Munnecke recommends it for readers about age 12 and up.
Franki Sibberson recommends Don't Lick the Dog as "a quick read, giving readers tips about how to behave around dogs. Each page shares a short tip on what to do when you see or approach a strange dog. It is filled with good information, and the illustrations make this a perfect primary read aloud."
You Are Weird: Your Body’s Peculiar Parts and Funny Functions by Diane Swanson is a great support for a unit on the human body, but also stands alone with high-interest subtopics like "Flaky Birthday Suit." Did you know we shed 35,000 skin cells each minute? Swanson's writing has plenty of voice and she makes it clear how weird (and special) we are as humans.