Best Nonfiction Books for Kids of all Ages
With so many nonfiction books for kids, how do you pick the best ones for your young readers? If you’re looking for the best nonfiction books for kids, these lists will give you the best of the informational children’s books published with reviews so that you can engage and educate readers.
What is the definition of nonfiction?
Merriam-Webster says that nonfiction is writing about facts and real events.
But first, do your kids understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction?
Make sure your readers understand that nonfiction is when the information and everything included in the book (diagrams, illustrations, etc.) is 100% true and not made up.
Fiction is a story that is made up (fake) or pretend. Even if it’s based on true historical events, a fictionalized story still resides in the fiction genre.
Nonfiction is not made up. Nonfiction is a broad genre whose definition is writing that shares information based on facts and reality and is not a fictional narrative.
Be sure your children understand the big differences between fiction vs. nonfiction by reading examples of each. The discussion about fiction meaning and nonfiction meaning will continue as children are exposed to both.
What are the types of nonfiction books for kids?
Even just 20 years ago, nonfiction literature was entirely written in expository format with only facts and information. Honestly, it was boring and dry to read. Can you imagine? (Yes! You grew up on this and so did I.)
But the truth is things have changed. Many books on these book lists are not only expository texts but also include narrative nonfiction writing, often with lyrical, poetic text. This is good news for readers because the information is presented with voice and pizazz, sometimes called creative nonfiction. Who wouldn’t like that?
Even better, we can refine our definition of children’s nonfiction books with more clarity using the definitions in the book 5 Kinds of Nonfiction by Melissa Stewart and Marlene Correia.
Sweet and Correia classified nonfiction writing into 5 categories:
- Expository Literature
These categories help educators give kids access to the best books for general interest, research, craft moves, and so forth. This book is ESSENTIAL reading for elementary school teachers and librarians.
But there are other ways to distinguish the different kinds of writing in this genre. These include the following forms: biography and memoir, personal essay, academic writing, journalism (hopefully), instructional and self-help, how-to guides, and creative nonfiction like commentary or humor. Generally speaking, kids won’t need to know all these forms.
Is reading a nonfiction book important for a child’s reading life?
In a word, yes.
Kids need to read nonfiction books from early on because reading for meaning is an essential skill for their future success in academics and in life.
But, it’s very important that you help kids find good nonfiction books; books that are engaging and interesting, in which they can practice reading. That’s why I’m sharing the best nonfiction books for kids that they’ll love to read.
How to help kids comprehend nonfiction…
In elementary school, many children struggle to read and comprehend nonfiction books because they have more practice and experience reading fiction.
But what will kids read primarily once they’re in high school and beyond?
NONFICTION. Aka. Informational text.
Therefore, it’s absolutely critical that we support children in reading and comprehending nonfiction books. So vary your children’s and students’ reading diets between fiction and nonfiction to give them strategies, practice, and success with both genres.
So how do we help children comprehend informational/expository text?
The solution to this is this…
First, teachers and parents, we need to teach kids the characteristics of the text— explaining text structures like problem/solution or compare/contrast, as well as text features like bolded vocabulary words, charts, and captions. This improves comprehension dramatically.
Try a nonfiction scavenger hunt to help reinforce text features.
Second, we must explicitly teach children comprehension strategies, such as determining what’s important versus what’s an interesting detail. Can your student or child differentiate between the main idea and the other information? That’s an essential comprehension skill.
Third, we give our children more practice reading nonfiction for authentic purposes. This means reading books to learn something that relates to our life, homework, or curiosity. Here’s how it works…if your young reader develops an interest in birds — get them bird books so they can learn more! In addition, children need time using reference materials like dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Fourth and finally, we must give children access to engaging, well-written, good nonfiction books. That’s where my book recommendations and list will help!
Browse these lists for books by topic or simply search for books by age so you know the book will be at the right reading level.
Use these lists to help you find nonfiction books that look interesting to stock in your school classroom, school or public library, or home bookshelves.
Ready to find the best nonfiction children’s books?
You might start with these lists by age but I’ve also listed books by topics. Scroll down to see the topical lists and the best books for each year, some are best sellers, some should be more popular.
Here you’ll find the best nonfiction picture books, easy readers, poetry books, chapter books, and informational tomes for kids. Get book suggestions for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school to be used at home with your own kids or in the classroom with students.
Nonfiction Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers (Ages 2 – 5)
Find the best nonfiction children’s book reviews and recommendations for all ages, including picture books for toddlers and preschoolers ages 2 to 5. Before you read, make predictions and ask questions about the books before and during your reading time.
Nonfiction for Early Elementary Ages / Primary Grades (Ages 5 – 8)
Get the best book lists of best sellers, new releases, and more for children who are in elementary school, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. Every list includes a printable pdf that you can download for your convenience.
Nonfiction Books for Upper Elementary Kids (Ages 9 – 11)
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or librarian, discover the best nonfiction bestsellers, new releases, and more for children in upper elementary school, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
Find a good nonfiction book for middle school age students and high school students, tweens and teens. Often teenage readers gravitate more toward nonfiction books as they become interested in new topics and people so I’ve made a list of good nonfiction books for teens.