I don’t remember reading much nonfiction as a child, perhaps I was too caught up in being a kid to notice. I read biographies for a long time, but nonfiction picture books were not on my playlist. Not so anymore. The nonfiction picture books that are available to our students now are amazing and every year a few more settle into our library and hearts. Here are the top ten favorites in our classroom library.
When Donalyn Miller recommends a picture book, I pay attention. Tricky Vic – the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli is a masterpiece. A page-turning read that makes you shake your head in wonder. This is a picture book for all ages.
Kelly Milner Halls can do no wrong in my eyes and her book In Search of Sasquatch is a favorite read in our classroom library. The reporting style of the book, the pictures, and the flow of the text makes this a book that students come back to again and again. Check out all of her other nonfiction texts too, you will be glad you did.
Loved by many, any of Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Creatures series such as The Worm is sure to suck readers in. With its whimsical illustrations surrounded by the facts about these animals, readers don’t even know how much they are learning as they devour the pages.
I don’t think it is possible to have a top 10 nonfiction picture book list without Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate. This beautiful book and story makes me cry every time I read it, but it is worth every sniveled tears. This is also one of the most lost picture books in my classroom, I hope it finds much love in its new homes.
Anything by Seymour Simon deserves to be on this list, but Gorillas is one of our favorites. With its stunning photography and accessible text, it provides my students with enough information to make them feel knowledgeable, as well as the desire to keep reading more. Seymour Simon is a legend within the nonfiction universe, rightfully so.
I have mentioned Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall by Micheaux Nelson on many picture book lists and there is definitely a reason for that. This book provides students with a different historical narrative about the 1800’s than most. Students cannot believe the story is true and it is often discussed for a long time after.
I remember reading the newspaper articles about George, and yet when Galapagos George by Jean Craighead George showed up at my house I still read it aloud to Thea not putting two and two together. George does not have a happy ending, which I knew, but had forgotten about. The shocked look on Thea’s face as I got to the end told me I should have probably prepped her, however, the tale itself is hauntingly beautiful and completely worth the shock.
Every time I receive one of these Did You Know books by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot I cannot wait to read them aloud to my own kids and then get them into the classrooms. these whimsical fact-bursting books are for kids of all ages and is sure to leave even the most knowledgeable reader in awe.
Manfish by Jennifer Berne tells the childhood story of Jacques Costeau. I love filling my students in on this ocean explorer, and the illustrations are gorgeous. A simple tale told about one of the great explorers of our time.
And for spot number 10, I can’t pick, so here are a few more of my favorite reads.
On A Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne.
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Helligman
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant.
The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
And finally, I just added these to my wish list
The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sis.
Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs David
If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) comes out September 22nd from Routledge.
5 thoughts on “My 10 Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books Right Now”
Great List! My favorite of these is Me..Jane.
The Peace Tree from Hiroshima, The Little Bonsai with a Big Story is a beautiful story. While the “Peace Tree reference will sell the books, it’s an endearing story of a Bonsai. In it’s few short words, the story takes you to another land. Wonderful.
Picture Book Reviewer
Definitely some I need to investigate. two of my favourites that are not on the list are: ‘The Tin Pot Foreign General and The Iron Lady’ by Raymond Briggs, a satire of the Falkland War and “Down the Hole, Up the Tree, Across the Sandhills… by Edna Tantjingu Williams and Eileen Wani Wingfield, the story of Australia’s ‘Stolen Generation’.