Best Children's Books About Non-fiction

72 Children's Books About Non-fiction

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Zoo Day book
#1
Zoo Day
Written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Beloved author Anne Rockwell celebrates animals of all kinds with a gorgeous new picture book about a child’s first visit to the zoo! A young boy and his family visit the zoo for the very first time. From gorillas to lions, polar bears to parrots, Anne Rockwell and her daughter, artist Lizzy Rockwell, celebrate a day he will never forget. With simple, lyrical text and bright illustrations that jump off the page, Zoo Day brings the joys of visiting the zoo vividly to life.

And Tango Makes Three book
#2
And Tango Makes Three
Written by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family is now available in a sturdy board book edition. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing book
#3
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
Written by Kay Haring and illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith's signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.

Amazing Animals book
#4
Amazing Animals
Written by and illustrated by Peter David Scott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Discover the incredible diversity of the natural world through Peter David Scott’s stunning illustrations of animals in their native habitats. Peter David Scott’s richly detailed and colorful artwork brings the beauty of the natural world into your hands in this collection of amazing animals from around the world. From the western gorilla of the African rain forests to the colossal squid that resides deep beneath the sea, animals from every habitat are featured on these pages. A field guide—complete with pencil sketches of each animal—presents the reader with more facts about these creatures.

The Strongest Man in the World book
#5
The Strongest Man in the World
Written by Lucie Papineau and illustrated by Caroline Hamel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Strongest Man in the World is a true story that reads like a Paul Bunyan tall tale. Cyprien-Noé was born into a poor family in a small village in Quebec, Canada in 1863. At the age of 8 he found a 100-pound calf that was stuck in the mud, lifted it up to his chin and carried it home over his shoulders. At 12, he came upon an injured man in the woods and carried him back to his horse and wagon. News of his strength spread. He changed his name to Louis Cyr, and, at age 18, he began traveling the United States, Canada and Europe, performing increasingly impressive feats of strength. At a performance in Boston when touring with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses, Cyr lifted 350 pounds with one hand. He entered contests, bested other strong men, and eventually became known around the globe as the “Strongest Man in the World”.

The Elephant book
#6
The Elephant
Written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this, Jenni Desmond's third nonfiction children's book about one of the large, endangered animals of Earth, we join a young boy as he learns about The Elephant. From Africa to Asia, the elephant makes its home. Light on their feet, despite their great weight, these magnificent creatures appear light and graceful because they're always walking on their tip-toes. They have excellent hearing and can detect the rumblings of other elephants from six miles away. And, just like humans being right handed or left handed, elephants can be right tusked or left tusked! The recipient of the 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated award for her book The Polar Bear, Desmond creates illustrations that are scientifically accurate, strikingly detailed, and beautifully rendered in collage, paint, and colored pencil.

Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries book
#7
Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Crazy-but-true stories about history, geography, and human achievement make this acclaimed nonfiction series perfect for fans of curiosities and wonders. A fun way for middle graders to explore ways to separate fact from fiction. Did you know that a young girl once saved an entire beach community from a devastating tsunami thanks to something she learned in her fourth-grade geography lesson? Or that there is a person alive today who generates her own magnetic field? Or how about the fact that Benjamin Franklin once challenged the Royal Academy of Brussels to devise a way to make farts smell good? Welcome to Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries! You know the game: Every story in this book is strange and astounding, but one out of every three is an outright lie. Can you guess which stories are the facts and which are the fakes? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable! Don’t be fooled by the photos that accompany each story—it’s going to take all your smarts and some clever research to root out the alternative facts. From a train that transported dead people to antique photos of real fairies to a dog who was elected mayor, the stories in this book will amaze you! Just don’t believe everything you read. . . .

Rhino in the House book
#8
Rhino in the House
Written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"This is a nonfiction picture book for young children. It tells the true story of Anna Merz, a wildlife protector in Africa, and Samia, a black rhinoceros she saved after it was abandoned by its mother."--

Fiona's Friends book
#9
Fiona's Friends
Written by John Hutton and illustrated by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Fiona, was born six weeks premature. She was too weak to stand and nurse from her mother, Bibi, so caregivers and vet staff stepped in to provide. With help from #TeamFiona, the premature hippo grew into a healthy hippo and an amazing ambassador for her species. Some of the other species represented in this book, like black rhinos and Malayan tigers, are critically endangered. There is hope for them, but people must care enough to want to save them.

Ballots for Belva book
#10
Ballots for Belva
Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Courtney A. Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

A timely true tale for the 2008 presidential election In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood took a bold but legal step: She ran for president! Women did not have the same rights as men, but Belva went on undeterred—and she got votes! Her run for office was based on experience and merit: Unlike many women of the time, she went to college, then to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court. Though her campaign was difficult, Belva never wavered in her commitment to equality, earning the respect of many fellow citizens. A little-known but richly deserving American historical figure, Belva is an inspiration for modern-day readers. Despite all the changes in society since Belva’s time, there is still a lot to fight for, and Belva shows the way. The book also includes a glossary and a timeline of women’s suffrage events. F&P level: Q

Curious Critters Texas book
#11
Curious Critters Texas
Written and illustrated by David FitzSimmons
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Curious Critters Texas brings young readers face-to-face with colorful, fascinating, and fun animals that are commonly found in the Lone Star State. Foster the love of nature in your young one through stunning photos of birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, fish, and more. Learn about what lives in your own backyard!

Nurse, Soldier, Spy book
#12
Nurse, Soldier, Spy
Written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the incredible true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who dressed as a man and fought in the Civil War. When she was 19, Sarah cut her hair, donned her brother's clothes, and fled from Canada, where her father wanted her to marry an elderly gentleman. In the U.S., she went by the name Frank Thompson and joined the Army to fight the Confederates. She was a nurse working on the battlefield when, because of her heroism, she was asked to serve as a spy. At her death, Edmonds was buried in a military cemetery, in a plot reserved for Civil War veterans--the only woman to have this honor.

A Woman in the House (and Senate) book
#13
A Woman in the House (and Senate)
Written and illustrated by Ilene Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A chronicle of women's contributions to politics in the United States traces the period between the women's suffrage movement and the 2012 election, and includes portraits of such luminaries as Hattie Caraway, Patsy Mink, and Shirley Chisholm.

Rickie & Henri book
#14
Rickie & Henri
Written by Jane Goodall and illustrated by Alan Marks
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Rickie the chimpanzee lived happily with her mother in the rain forests of Central Africa, warm and safe until the day the hunters came and took Rickie away to sell at a Congolese market. Fortunately, she was rescued by a kind man who adopted Rickie and cared for her. Best of all, he provided an unexpected friend in his dog Henri. This true story of friendship is heart-warmingly brought to life by renowned scientist, conservationist and peace activist Dr. Jane Goodall."

Baby Penguin's First Waddles book
#15
Baby Penguin's First Waddles
Written and illustrated by The American Museum of Natural History
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

What happens after a baby penguin emerges from her egg? Follow her journey and find out! Meet a penguin chick and see how she grows. Developed in tandem with the American Museum of Natural History, and featuring stunning photography in the penguin's Antarctic home, this nonfiction picture book captures the first few months of a baby penguin's life and her transformation into adulthood. With fun and engaging text, Baby Penguin's First Waddles is sure to delight animal-loving kids.

Sea Creatures book
#16
Sea Creatures
Written and illustrated by Chorkung Kung
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

FIRST EXPLORERS: With cool things to push, pull, and slide on the cover and every spread for interactive fun, this chunky board book gives children their first enticing taste of nonfiction! Swim through coral reefs, rock pools, and deep blue seas to see what lives in and near the ocean! As kids push, pull, and slide their way through the pages, they'll encounter some amazing creatures: scuttling crabs, tentacled jellyfish, slippery eels, and penguins, seals, and giant whales that like icy-cold water. From pretty starfish to fierce sharks and octopuses, each one is fantastic.

Hello, World! Dinosaurs book
#17
Hello, World! Dinosaurs
Written and illustrated by Jill McDonald
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

All young children love dinosaurs. Now here's a board book that teaches toddlers all about Triceratops, Stegosaurus, T-rex, and many more--with colors, shapes, sizes, and super-simple facts. Hello, World! is a series designed to introduce first nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. Told in clear and easy terms ("T. rex's arms were very small, even though its body was large") and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! makes learning fun for young children. And each sturdy page offers helpful prompts for engaging with your child. It's a perfect way to bring science and nature into the busy world of a toddler, where learning never stops. Look for all the books in the Hello, World! series: Solar System, Weather, Backyard Bugs, Birds, and My Body.

Can an Aardvark Bark? book
#18
Can an Aardvark Bark?
Written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-8

From award-winning author Melissa Stewart and Caldecott honoree Steve Jenkins comes a noisy nonfiction exploration of the many sounds animals make. Can an aardvark bark? No, but it can grunt. Lots of other animals grunt too… Barks, grunts, squeals—animals make all kinds of sounds to communicate and express themselves. With a growling salamander and a whining porcupine, bellowing giraffes and laughing gorillas, this boisterous book is chock-full of fun and interesting facts and is sure to be a favorite of even the youngest animal enthusiasts.

A Chicken Followed Me Home! book
#19
A Chicken Followed Me Home!
Written and illustrated by Robin Page
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Why did the chicken cross the road? To follow you home! Learn all about a not-so-basic bird in this delightful nonfiction picture book. What’s that? A chicken followed you home? Now what do you do? Celebrated author-illustrator Robin Page leads a step-by-step, question-and-answer-style journey through the world of chickens. Along the way you’ll explore different breeds, discover different types of coops, and learn everything there is to know about chicken reproduction and hatching. Gorgeous, playful, and filled with facts, this engaging nonfiction picture book shines new light on a very familiar fowl!

Armstrong book
#20
Armstrong
Written and illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A long time ago a mouse learned to fly . . . and crossed the Atlantic. But what happened next? Torben Kuhlmann's stunning new book transports readers to the moon and beyond! On the heels of Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse comes Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon—where dreams are determined only by the size of your imagination and the biggest innovators are the smallest of all. The book ends with a brief non-fiction history of human space travel—from Galileo’s observations concerning the nature of the universe to man's first steps on the moon.

The Watcher book
#21
The Watcher
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

After Wendy is kidnapped, the only way she can survive World War II Germany is with the help of a special dog and the family she never knew she had in this historically accurate, standalone companion to Shadows on the Sea that Kirkus Reviews calls “a stimulating blend of suspense and history.” 1942. Berlin, Germany. How did Wendy end up in such a place? Just a few months ago, she was enjoying her time in Maine, supporting the American war effort. But she was kidnapped, then betrayed by her own mother, who is actually a Nazi spy. As a new Berliner—and now a German—Wendy is expected to speak in a language she’s never known and support a cause she doesn’t believe in. There are allies, though, among the Germans. Allies who have been watching over Wendy since she arrived. And Wendy, along with her new German shepherd puppy, must confront them. If only she can find them. Her life depends on it.

Stolen Identity book
#22
Stolen Identity
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When someone is out to frame Frank and Joe for the theft of an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript, they use a group of skateboarders as sources of information in their attempt to clear their names.

The Gray Hunter's Revenge book
#23
The Gray Hunter's Revenge
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Frank and Joe investigate a supernatural crime in the seventeenth book in the thrilling Hardy Boys Adventures series. One of the Hardys’ favorite writers, Nathan Foxwood, has recently died in a tragic car accident. Now, the press is swarming his house in Bayport to get the scoop on the novel he completed just before his untimely death. When Joe hears that Nathan’s wife is having a giant estate sale, he drags Frank with him. Who could pass up the opportunity to see inside their favorite author’s home? Nathan’s wife says she wants to get away as quickly as possible; strange things have been happening since their first night there and now her husband is gone and she’s sure the house is haunted. But Nathan’s assistant, Adam, is not so willing to blame it all on the supernatural. Valuable things keep disappearing from the house—why would a ghost need money? Adam recognizes the Hardys’ from an article he read and asks for their help. Of course Frank and Joe Hardy don’t believe in ghosts and are positive they can get to the bottom of all this. But when Adam is mysteriously hurt after spending the night alone in the house, the brothers start to wonder; what is the motive for these crimes if not ghostly revenge? Could these brother detectives be in over their heads?

The Blue Whale book
#24
The Blue Whale
Written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An introduction to the world of the giant blue whale combines engaging facts with evocative illustrations that compare the whale's enormous size to objects in the everyday world.

And Then what Happened, Paul Revere? book
#25
And Then what Happened, Paul Revere?
Written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Margot Tomes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

A true American story for young readers by the Newbery-Honor winning author! Everyone knows about Paul Revere’s midnight ride. But not everyone knows the harrowing details and narrow escapes that occurred along the way. This timeless and witty book highlights little-known facts about patriot Paul Revere.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.