Monday, June 10, 2019

Nonfiction picture books

A friend of mine once shared online that reading nonfiction picture books to her children is much more enjoyable for her than story-driven picture books. I really like a good mix of both and have read some truly awesome nonfiction picture books I thought I’d share here today. We’ve read some of these for specific homeschool lessons and some just for fun but they’re only on this list if they were enjoyed by both parent AND child.

Abe Lincoln, the Boy Who Loved Books… This is a really great, fun way to condense Abe Lincoln’s life into a picture book. We like the illustrations and reading about how much books were a part of his life made us feel really great about how much books are a part of our lives. My six-year-old adores this book and can tell you all about Abe Lincoln if you take the time to ask him.

Beauty and the Beak… This is the amazing story of an eagle (Beauty) whose beak was damaged by a hunter. She was rescued and eventually fitted with a prosthetic beak.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind… I read the middle-grade memoir (which I really liked) too and I’m just a big fan of William Kamkwamba. This is a really remarkable story about a young man in an African village who didn’t let his family’s circumstances deter him from doing something amazing: creating a windmill that would give them electricity. Although his family’s poverty also included nearly starving to death, the picture book version was not at all as harrowing as the middle-grade version.

Boxes for Katje… This one, I’ll warn you, felt very much like a fiction story. I didn’t even realize it was a true story until I got to the end and read the note in the back. This is the story of a little girl in the US sending a care package to a little girl in post-war Holland, and then the way her entire town came together to help the entire town in Holland. It’s heart-warming and one we’ve read again and again.

Brave Ballerina… My four-year-old is on a major ballerina kick and this fabulous book is a very quick and easy read she requests all the time. This is a rhyming story about Janet Collins’ journey to becoming a prima ballerina in a time when black ballerinas were just not given any respect or credit. The book does a really excellent job at pointing out the adversity she faced without being upsetting for the younger crowd.

A Butterfly is Patient (and others by Dianna Hutts)… This whole nature series is fascinating and just BEAUTIFUL, but the butterfly book is the hands-down favorite in this house.

Giant Squid… We all loved learning more about the giant squid and definitely fell into a bit of a rabbit hole afterwards. We watched ocean movies in hopes that it would be mentioned and borrowed probably 20 other giant squid/ocean library books but none compared to this one.

Moses… This Caldecott is my favorite Harriet Tubman picture book and I especially love the way her faith is woven into the narrative. 

No Monkeys, NoChocolate… This is such a fascinating look at the way certain aspects in nature go hand-in-hand, and in particular, just how imperative monkeys are to the chocolate industry. And yes, we definitely bought some chocolate just so we could eat it while we read this one =D

One Giant Leap… This is the story of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and is really fun for any kid interested in space/the moon. We also like Buzz Aldrin’s take on the story, Reaching for the Moon.

Over and Under thePond… We were on a pond kick for a little while last year, exploring a semi-local pond during all four seasons and enjoying pond books. This one was technically only the kids’ second favorite but it was definitely my favorite.

A Passion for Elephants… We were all very fascinated by this story about Cynthia Moss, a US scientist who moved to Africa to study and photograph elephants. She also became a huge advocate for elephant safety and was a big part of the movement created to help prevent the unnecessary deaths of elephants for ivory. 

Redwoods… This is a very fact-driven book about the Redwoods but its illustrations are super inviting and feel more like a picture book. We’ve read this one again and again!

Shine-a-Light series… This whole series is so fun! You read a blurb about the topic on hand and then you shine a flashlight behind the page to see what’s hiding inside/underneath something. My personal favorite is the human body book but we also love Secrets of Winter, Secrets of the Apple Tree, Secrets of the Rainforest, Inside the Space Station, Secrets of the Vegetable Garden, and Secrets of Animal Camouflage. There’s a beach version, a hospital version, and so many more. My kids especially love to be the one working the flashlight.

Snowflake Bentley… This is about the first man to photograph snowflakes and was really fascinating. We made a whole big thing of it and attempted to capture photographs of snowflakes with my busted ol’ phone after reading it. Didn’t work out.

This is How We Do it… This was a really awesome look at cultures around the world and the way they all do things. We got to see the way families in different parts of the world eat their meals, the way the children attend school, the way they play… super fascinating.

Tiny Creatures: the World of Microbes… This book is really well done and so fascinating! My six-year-old was instantly intrigued so he emailed our nutritionist friend (which was pretty adorable, I have to say) and now we're both obsessed!

WildAbout Bears We got to meet this lovely author/illustrator when we attended her storytime event at The Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana. This book is a great look at bears and different bear species’ similarities/differences (habitats, diets, size, all kinds of goodies) and has some really nice illustrations. Also, to be honest, the author is just so incredibly kind and lovely so I am really hoping you’ll buy-not-borrow this particular gem.

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