News & Media

Learn How the World Works Through Nonfiction Picture Books

Reading nonfiction helps bring the world into perspective for young readers, and nonfiction picture books celebrate the joy of storytelling through vibrant photographs and illustrations.

True stories introduce young readers to famous figures in history, global perspectives, varied cultures, and also help to foster critical thinking skills. The context that nonfiction can add encourages growing minds to make real-world connections. Plus, it may help curb the seemingly never-ending flow of questions like, “Why do flies have wings?,” and “Why does hair get longer?” Most of us, after all, are still learning and trying to figure out this magnificent world we live in!

This collection of nonfiction books for young readers will share facts and stories about real-life topics in engaging and illuminating ways. Enjoy these titles during “Nonfiction November,” and all year round.

Blood and Germs: The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease by Gail Jarrow – With the help of actual medical cases and first-person accounts by soldiers, doctors, and nurses, Gail Jarrow dives into the science and grisly history of U.S. Civil War medicine—making for a fascinating nonfiction book for young readers.

Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington, Theodore Taylor, III – Question buzzed around Charles Henry Turner’s mind: Can spiders learn? How do ants find their way home? Can bugs see color? In this nonfiction picture book, author Janice Harrington and artist Theodore Taylor III capture the life of Charles Henry Turner, the first Black entomologist, highlighting Turner’s unstoppable quest for knowledge and his passion for science.

Race Against Time: The Untold Story of Scipio Jones and the Battle to Save Twelve Innocent Men by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace – Through in-depth research and consultation with legal experts, award-winning nonfiction authors Sandra and Rich Wallace examine the complex proceedings of twelve Black men who’d been unjustly sentenced to death and their self-taught attorney, Scipio Africanus Jones, who was born enslaved.

Elephants!: Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Meryl Henderson – Learn all about the elephant in this nonfiction picture book that explores every aspect of these giant mammals. For little readers the enjoy the interesting world of animals, there’s an entire Strange and Wonderful series to explore. 

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara E. Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson – A perfect pick for Veterans Day or to learn about military history, The Poppy Lady tells the inspiring story behind the Veterans Day red poppy, a symbol that honors the service and sacrifices of our veterans.

Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s Life in Jazz by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Michele Wood – Mara Rockliff and acclaimed illustrator Michele Wood brilliantly capture the rhythms and passions of “Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong, legendary jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader—and a female pioneer on the music stage.

The Secret Life of the Sloth by Laurence Pringle, iIllustrated by Kate Garchinsky – A Booklist review of The Secret Life of the Sloth says, “Like other volumes in the Secret Life series, this book offers an engaging narrative that spotlights the daily life of an individual animal while including information that applies broadly to others of the species. Created with soft pastels, aqua crayons, and walnut ink, the beautifully textured, richly atmospheric illustrations capture events and reinforce information presented in the text. A fascinating introduction to the sloth.” 

Camera: Eureka! The Biography of an Idea by Laura Driscoll, illustrated by Hector Borlasca – Say “Cheese!” Around the world, millions of pictures are taken every second. Here is a “biography” of the camera, an essential invention that helps people capture the world around them! Explore the entire The Biography of an Idea series here

Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by: Drazen Kozjan – Young fans of the smash Broadway hit Hamilton will enjoy this narrative nonfiction picture book story about the important friendship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Both the author and illustrator worked with experts and primary sources to represent both patriots and the war accurately and fairly.

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