There is nothing better than a good book! I love to read. I especially love to sit down with my boys at the end of the night, process the day and read a story. Reading to children is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Reading from an early age develops that sense of closeness, builds bonds and helps to develop their understanding and appreciation of books. Recently, as they are getting older, I am finding that both my children have a keen interest in nonfiction and will quite often ask for this at bedtime. We have quite a few nonfiction books to choose from, the following of which are just a few. I thought it may interest you to see what types of books we read and why I consider them to be the best nonfiction books for kids.
First of all, why Nonfiction?
All children have that urge to ask questions about anything and everything and my 2 are no different. I love the fact that both my boys are so inquisitive and want to know so much more about the world around them. Nonfiction books are the perfect choice for when their wee inquisitive minds are working overdrive and well, most of the time I don’t have the answers for the questions they are asking. This has become even more evident during home schooling.
An Over-enthusiastic Mummy
At the start of lockdown, I may have been a tad over enthusiastic. I may have thought, “we can tackle so much more in addition to what the teacher sends, after all it’s not like I am a working parent.” I have no other excuse, so I attempted to put in the effort. As the weeks turned into months it became more and more obvious that mummy knew nothing. Did I even go to school? Sure, I have my strengths but whatever I learnt in Primary has long since been forgotten, not to mention the fact that a lot has changed in 27 years. Thank god for nonfiction, even the dictionary has seen a lot more use during our time at home.
Just so you know, this enthusiasm didn’t last, 2 weeks later and you will be met with a scene like this, courtesy of Cheaper by the Dozen…
Really, I should have known better being that this is actually pretty close to my life. Granted I only have 2 boys but, those 2 boys get into EVERYTHING. With their Dad working away from home, this is actually what our telephone conversations are like on a daily basis. There’s me, trying to act like all is good, meanwhile, Pup is preparing to launch himself off the window ledge because he thinks he can fly. Then there’s Tink! Tink is usually the one that needs patched up when Pup’s flying experiment experiences turbulence. Really, I should have known better than to try and exceed expectations.
Anyhow, we’re not here to read about my short falls, or well maybe you are but, we should get on. So, on that note, here is my selection of what I consider to be the best nonfiction books for kids, mainly aged 4 to 8.
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Questions and Answers About Space (Usborne)
My appreciation for nonfiction definitely developed further last year when that first announcement was made and all of us poor, unsuspecting parents were thrust into the unfamiliar arms of home schooling. Looking to expand on what the teacher assigned us to do, Tink and I first started looking into Space. This book was the perfect starting point to build our knowledge of the topic.
Covering a wide range of subjects from NASA to the Solar System, it holds a vast amount of information that allows children to delve into everything that is space. The book provides an interactive structure in the form of ‘lift the flap’. Each flap holds one question and hides one answer, making it fun for children to explore every page. This also makes for easy reading being suitable for those in the early stages of learning or, for co-reading with parents or guardians.
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Questions and Answers about Space is one of the many nonfiction books published by Usborne. They have produced so many others with topics such as Science, Dinosaurs, Music and Nature. There really is such a huge selection to choose from. You can find other Question and Answers About books on Amazon Here!
Little Kids Big First Book of Science (National Geographic Kids)
I love National Geographic because they have a whole range of nonfiction books dedicated to kids pretty much covering every single topic you can imagine. One thing I have discovered about having boys is their undeniable thirst for knowledge. Both my boys love looking through factual books; Pup loves everything dinosaurs and volcanos, whereas Tink will just devour anything in sight. He wants to know everything and see everything.
The above book is one of his favourites as it contains various different pieces of information covering what science actually is, life science, physical science, great inventions and earth & space. From a parents point of view, the layout is clear and concise with large colourful pictures, large text and important sections highlighted in bold. National Geographic definitely know how to cater to the needs of a child. Their books are sensational and great for home learning, inquisitive minds and developing an understanding of the world around us.
The other great thing about National Geographic is that there is an endless quantity of books available out there, providing children with plenty of options to choose from. They definitely produce some of the best nonfiction books for kids. Any subject they wish to learn about can be found if you just know where to look. You can find the full selection of Little Kids First Big Book of….. Here!
Children’s Picture Atlas (Usborne)
No child’s book shelf would be complete without an Atlas. Again, this is where owning such books really helps with home schooling and homework. This time, we used his Atlas for a task that was actually assigned by the teacher.
We were asked to find out some facts about Australia for the weekly school assembly, digital of course, so I dug out his Atlas, we looked at the map then… I tossed it aside and opened up Facebook Messenger. Ok, so we cheated, we have family in Australia. I asked them for some facts and submitted them to the school, although not all were child friendly. “Aussies are very inappropriate”, quoted from an Aussie family member.
We may not have used the Atlas much for that assignment but Tink does like looking through the book, pretty much planning out our future holidays once these hypothetical Covid Ankle Monitors are removed, setting us free to roam.
Usborne provide an Atlas that is beautifully illustrated, colourful and full of picture information about the countries around the world. It is perfect for little kids. Tink and Pup can both look at it and see, for example, what animals originate in what countries. If you are looking for an Atlas for an older child Amazon have a huge choice. You can find a full selection of Children’s Atlas Books here!
First Children’s Dictionary: A First Reference Book for Children (DK)
This book has probably had the most use recently as, since entering Primary 3, Tink is required each week to research his homework spelling words in a dictionary to discover and read their meanings. Heck, sometimes I even have to look up some of the words he is assigned. 😂
Tink actually loves this book because it provides colourful images on each page and the descriptions against each word are short and to the point. It is easy for him to read and understand. From my point of view, a dictionary is actually a vital tool to aid with child learning. There is also something special about owning a physical copy over using a digital one. Dictionaries teach children about chronological order which is an important skill to have when beginning their learning journey. Looking that word up online does not teach them those same skills, although, it will help them with spelling and learning about information technology.
There are definitely pros and cons to owning a dictionary and utilising a digital one however, this mum will choose this book every time. It definitely deserves to be noted on my selection of best nonfiction books for kids.
Find a full selection of Children’s Dictionary’s here!
Everything Volcanos and Earthquakes (National Geographic Kids)
The last two books I wish to talk about are Pup’s favourites. He is OBSESSED with volcanos! This book is always close to hand and is most often, his preferred choice of bedtime reading.
It contains everything a child obsessed with fire and lava could wish for, showing detailed images and accompanying descriptions. He obviously cannot read it himself but he picks up so much from sitting beside me, so much so that, sometimes, he can spout out certain sentences from the book. It’s funny, Tink could recite the Very Hungry Caterpillar word for word but Pup’s choice is all about Volcanos. This just emphasises how different they are as children.
One loves happy stories while the other is manic over books about things that go bang; a bit like their personalities. Pup is loud, quick and bouncy whereas Tink is quiet, sensitive and reserved, well until Pup sends him into crazy town. Then it’s anybody’s game.
You an find a full selection of National Geographic Kids Everything books here!
First Dinosaur Encyclopaedia: A First Reference Book for Children (DK)
The last book I wish to discuss is all about dinosaurs. Yup, we have reached Pup’s Dinosaur Encyclopaedia. He loves this book although, sometimes, we’ll be lucky to make it past the page that shows the image of the volcano. He is a little boy that loves to talk, he never shuts up so, when we reach that page, he proceeds to tell me everything he knows about Volcanos from the previous book.
In all honestly, this is a fantastic book containing information about every period of the dinosaur era from the cretaceous, to the Jurassic, to the Triassic. Yep that last one I didn’t even know was a thing. See, even I am learning something new.
This book is mainly aimed at age 5 and up but there is nothing to say younger children cannot look at the pictures, which is precisely what Pup does. He can pretty much name half the dinosaurs in the book and will sit staring at it for ages. Actually, right now he has picked it up and is staring at a rather ominous looking T. rex whilst watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Bit of an odd combination if you ask me.
As is the case with many of the books we have discussed, DK also do reference books on pretty much every topic under the sun. You can find other First Reference Books by DK on Amazon here!
Reading always has been a personal love of mine so to be able to share this post with you is quite special. For children, reading inspires their creativity and lets them have experiences that they might not have in the real world. You can lose yourself to imagination in a good book.
Nonfiction is important because it teaches children how to research topics and look up facts, something they need throughout their school career. The best nonfiction books for kids are those that are clear, concise and easy to understand. They provide a layout that is child friendly with plenty of colourful images and important facts that stand out in some way. I love these books because they fulfil all of these requirements and no child would be bored reading them, I hope you do to.