Best Nonfiction Books for Kids

The best nonfiction books for kids ignite their curiosity, their intellect, making them want more information.  These are able to help shape children into vessels ready to be filled with learning and wonder.

While fictional books feed the imagination, nonfiction books help kids develop analytical and critical thinking skills.  Both of these are important in expanding a child's intellect.

library nonfiction for kids

Finding the best nonfiction books for kids begins with finding books on topics which individually interest them.  Let's face it, nonfiction books are designed to impart information; unless a child's interest is captured, their attention may not follow.

However, even if children have only been exposed to fiction books, there are ways to pique their interest in the realm of nonfiction.

  • Biographies are true stories and a great place to start.
  • Begin with letting them look at the pictures in a nonfiction book on a topic they enjoy such as animals or cooking or firetrucks. Encourage them to ask questions and see if the book can offer answers; engage their curiosity.
  • Nonfiction does not have to be read from beginning to end; allow them to flip through and read bits and pieces which interest them. Many also include a Table of Contents or Index to quickly locate information of interest. 
  • Visit your local library's nonfiction section for kids and pull a few for them to look through and experience.
  • Some of the best nonfiction books for kids to begin with have short entries on several different topics such as National Geographic's Big Book of Why mentioned below.

Best Nonfiction Books for Kids

nonfiction for preschoolers

Finding the best nonfiction books for kids is an important endeavor, and don't think you have to wait until they start school!  Even preschoolers can enjoy discovering the fun of learning through nonfiction. 

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for books with real photos and short text.
  • Look for nonfiction written in the form of a story with interesting illustrations.
  • Look for books that engage a child through activity.
  • Match a nonfiction book to a fictional picture book the child likes through the specific topic.  For example: Curious George to a nonfiction book on monkeys.

Best Nonfiction Books for Kids
Preschool on Up

best nonfiction books for kids

Here we're going to include a few of our favorite "Best Nonfiction Books for Kids," and why we like them.  

1.  Little Kids First Big Book of Why
by Amy Shields & part of National Geographic KIds

Curiosity grabs our interest!  Who doesn't wonder "why" over and over again...especially kids?!  Books which include multiple nonfiction topics is a great way to introduce nonfiction.  There's bound to be at least one topic included which grabs their interest; this can then become a springboard to finding other nonfiction books on the same topic.

why do birds
Why book for kids
why question book
nonfiction for kids

This book is full of "Why" questions, beautiful photographs and short sections of text.  It also includes activities such as science experiments.  This book is great for kids of any age to begin discovering a wealth of information form nonfiction books!

It includes a Table of Contents, Parent Tips, Glossary & Index along with additional book and website resources.

And don't forget to check your local library for this and other National Geographic Kids titles; that's where I borrowed this one.  National Geographic Kids offers titles on several reading levels too from pre-readers on up.

2.  Best Nonfiction Picture Books

best nonfiction picture books

Some of the most beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture books I have come across during my years as a school librarian are those by Gail Gibbons and Aliki.  

Both contain short sections of text which are easy to read aloud to children or for kids to enjoy reading themselves.  

According to "The Washington Post," -

"Gail Gibbons has taught more preschoolers and early readers about the world than any other children's writer-illustrator."

Her titles include a myriad of topics from seeds to horses to hurricanes to the moon to pumpkins to holidays to swamps!

Gail Gibbons swamps

Aliki didn't start out planning to write and illustrate books; it found her. 

In speaking about how she goes about writing her books, she says, "The subject directs the way I illustrate a book, the same way friends bring out different parts of us. The challenge is to get the words right and then to make pictures that expand and enhance their meaning."

aliki at the zoo

3.  Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker Series
by Mary Pope Osborne  

The Magic Treehouse fictional series was always one of the favorites in our elementary school library! These are fictional stories about adventures Jack and Annie make through traveling into the pages of a book.  They record facts along the way; so it's an enjoyable story which offers true information.

Now though, there is a whole new series of some of the best nonfiction books for kids called the "Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker Series."  These are great for kids in about the 2nd - 5th grades.  It's like traveling through history or science with your friends (Jack & Annie) sharing all the facts they have discovered.

Each begins with a note from Jack and Annie which will also helps you as a parent get a glimpse of what is contained in each book.

Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker books

These nonfiction books for kids include illustrations, maps, charts and real photographs.  The text is written in a conversational format which is easier for kids to follow along in more of a story format.  Also, Jack and Annie explain vocabulary and highlight other important facts along the way.

World War II for kids
Fact Trekker WWII
WWI Magic Treehouse
Fact Tracker books WWII

Start your kids off with one of the fictional titles that may interest them; you could even read these short chapter books together.  Then introduce the nonfiction companion book.  They are sure to enjoy!

Again, many of these can be found at your local library and not cost you a penny! 

4.  Biographies

Snowflake Bentley
Catching the Moon
Finding Winnie

Everyone loves a story!  That's why fiction books are so easy to read.  Therefore, introducing the best nonfiction books for kids with biographies or true stories is a no-brainer.

You can begin with these wonderfully illustrated picture book biographies and move on from there.  These true stories will impact a child's life through real life heroes and living examples of courage, kindness, perseverance and more.

6.  The Bible

ABC Bible book

I know some of my readers may not agree with this one, but some of you will.

This is a great time to help children associate The Bible as one of the very best nonfiction books for kids on up!  Here we are emphasizing that nonfiction material is is not made up.  Therefore, by presenting the Bible to our children as nonfiction, we are asserting it is true, factual and trustworthy as the Word of God.  It is not just a regular book of stories.  In fact, it is no regular nonfiction book made of just facts!

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Hebrews 4:12

Final Tips

  • Use your local library; it opens doors into a rich literature foundation for your children.
  • Join your child in this reading adventure.  Read books together and discuss your thoughts and questions.
  • Encourage your child's questions and curiosity; then encourage reading books as a reliable source of information over just Googling to find answers.  
  • Make a match by choosing a nonfiction book on a topic connected to your child's favorite fictional stories.  Challenge your child to choose and read at least one nonfiction book to every five fiction books they may want to read.

Dewey Decimal System

When you visit your library, the nonfiction books should be organized by the Dewey Decimal System.  You may always ask your librarian for help in locating the books you desire.

finding nonfiction books