Children are naturally fascinated by the lives of real people and the world around them. And building background knowledge is key to children's academic success. Our resources can help you find great nonfiction picture books and offer tips on how to get the most out of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction can sometimes turn a reluctant reader into an enthusiastic one!
Featured Video: Nonfiction for Kids
Reading Adventure Packs
Our Reading Adventure Packs encourage hands-on fun and learning centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. Each themed pack includes recommended titles and three activities inspired by the books. Topics include dinosaurs, bees, building, music, cooking, weather, robots, oceans, flight, stars archaeology and more. Browse the full library!
Start with a Book
What does your child love to explore and learn about? Explore dinosaurs, bugs, birds, planes, music, sports, superheroes, inventors, art, the night sky, the ocean, and more — 24 themes in all. For each theme, you'll find hundreds of recommended books, hands-on activities, educational websites, interactive apps and more. Visit Start with a Book
Tip sheets for parents
Written especially for parents, our Growing Readers newsletter (available in English and Spanish) provides monthly tips for raising strong readers and writers. Subscribe to Growing Readers.
Nonfiction books give kids a chance to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden their view of the world. Learn how to take a "book walk" with a new nonfiction book and how to model active reading.
Many kids love to read about science and nature as well as real people, places, and events. Nonfiction books present information in engaging and interesting ways. Find out how you can help your child learn to navigate all the parts of a nonfiction book — from the table of contents to the diagrams, captions, glossary, and index.
Explore two ways you can help your child begin to develop information literacy: learning to tell the difference between fact and opinion, and figuring out if a source of information is reliable.
Day trips, vacations and special outings create special memories and great learning opportunities for families. The time leading up to your trip can be filled with excitement and adventure too! Whether you're going to the zoo, the museum, or a state park, below are a few "stops" to make before your visit to help your child get the most out of a family or school educational experience.
Having interesting things to read at home is a great way to keep kids motivated. Below are a few questions to ask yourself about your home library. Some simple changes on your part can help you create an amazing home library, and help your child develop an early love of reading!
Sharing lots of different kinds, or genres, of books with your child exposes him to different words, different kinds of images, and whole new worlds. This tip sheet suggests some genres to try with your young reader that complement 'traditional' fiction. Some are suggestions for read alouds, while others may be ones your child can read on his own.
Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. Get to know what the four main areas of the Common Core reading standards mean and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in these areas.
Our interconnected and digital world demands a lot of our learners. Here are five simple ways to help build your child's critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Finding great nonfiction
Public and school librarians are the best resource for helping identify high-quality nonfiction books, for any interest or reading level. There are also many excellent online resources. Here are a few of our favorites:
Nonfiction in the classroom
Exposing children to a variety of informational text will stimulate development of background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. In this article, take an imaginary trip to a children's museum and learn how to choose quality, high-interest informational books for young readers.
Children's nonfiction picture books is a genre that is exploding in both quality and quantity. Recent nonfiction books reveal an emphasis on the visual, an emphasis on accuracy, and an engaging writing style. Suggestions are included for choosing and using nonfiction picture books in the classroom.
Exposing young children to informational text early on can help them to handle the literacy demands of fourth grade and beyond. Practical instructional techniques can be used to promote understanding and enjoyment of informational texts. The three techniques described here — Text Impression, Guiding Questions, and the Retelling Pyramid — can help children become familiar with the language and structure of non-fiction books.
Expository text offers particular challenges to the reader because of the abstract and unfamiliar concepts that it presents. Students should be taught the hierarchical structure of the expository text and the interrelationships among ideas — what experts refer to as text structure. Reading researchers have argued that knowledge of text organization, or structure, is an important factor for text comprehension. This article reviews techniques and procedures in teaching expository text structure.
The text feature walk guides students in the reading of text features in order to access prior knowledge, make connections, and set a purpose for reading expository text. Results from a pilot study illustrate the benefits of using the strategy, and practical suggestions for implementation are offered.
This article explains (a) how to teach students to identify the compare-contrast text structure, and to use this structure to support their comprehension, (b) how to use compare-contrast texts to activate and extend students' background knowledge, and (c) how to use compare-contrast texts to help students expand and enrich their vocabulary. Although these strategies can benefit all young learners, the compare-contrast text structure is particularly helpful to ELL students.
One of the most important skills students learn as they transition into middle and high school is how to get information from a non-fiction text. This skill can be especially challenging for ELLs, who may not have had much experience working independently with expository texts. This Bright Ideas article offers ways that teachers can help ELLs work effectively with non-fiction texts and includes strategies for introducing components, structure, and purpose of expository texts.
Introducing Science Concepts to Primary Students Through Read-Alouds: Interactions and Multiple Texts Make the Difference
This study of first and second graders looked at teacher-led read-alouds as a way to introduce science concepts. Results suggest that multiple exposures to a related concept across different stories gave students more time to build a mental representation of important ideas. This evidence suggests that moving beyond a single text as a source for building students' understanding is an important instructional approach.
With the Common Core, literacy is intentionally taught within content areas. See what a CCSS mini-thematic unit in science might look like for children in the primary grades.