Nonfiction Titles

Lately nonfiction reading has become a hot topic. Researchers are telling us that we are not spending enough time with nonfiction books. I must admit (picture head hanging low) I did not regularly read nonfiction to my students. My read aloud books were always fiction. However, if I were to be back in a classroom today, that would not be the case. I have discovered nonfiction authors that I absolutely adore. I cannot get enough of their books.

Today, Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community is hosting a 10 for 10 nonfiction. The challenge is to create a stack of ten nonfiction books you could not live without. So here are my current favorite nonfiction texts in no particular order:

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Are You a ______ (insert one of the following words: Bee, Ant, Butterfly, Dragonfly, Grasshopper, Ladybug, Snail. Spider)? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. This series of books brings the life the the previously mentioned creature to life in relation to the reader. This is a format I could see students using to create a book on a creature they research.

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The voice in  Atlantic by G. Brian Karas is the Atlantic Ocean. This book is a favorite to demonstrate the power of word choice, plus the added bonus of being in told in the first person. I am a sucker for books in the first person (as you will see).

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The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward is another first person text, but this one has the added element of rhyme too. The tree explains each part and who lives within.


Recently I discovered at the library Roxie Munro’s book Hatch! “Can you guess whose eggs these are?” is the opening sentence for each egg. Clues are given about the bird, then you turn to the page to find the bird drawn in its habitat with the egg hatched. Additional information is given at the bottom of the page of other animals you can find in the habitat (they are in the picture too).  This is a large book  as it is 11 x 11 inches, so the eggs are not drawn to scale.

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I love Diana Aston and Sylvia Long’s books! I want to own them all, but for now I must be satisfied with A Butterfly Is Patient. The vocabulary opportunities abound in this (and all their books).  “A butterfly is magical,” don’t you want to read to find out why? The end pages will entertain for hours as you match up the caterpillars with the butterfly.

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Literary nonfiction has grabbed my attention and it won’t be letting go for a long time. Gentle Giant Octopus by Karen Wallace is a must have. This text will allow students to infer and visualize. “An octopus sinks like a huge rubber flower.” Additional facts in another font allow students to discover more about an octopus.

Now we are getting down to my two favorite nonfiction authors. I will only share two of their books, but they have many more so check them out and see what else they have written.

White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies is another literary nonfiction title. You learn about barn owls through the story of a grandpa and his granddaughter who build a nest box for the barn owl. Then in Surprising Sharks you don’t have a story, but Nicola Davies talks directly to you as you learn facts about specific sharks. This book has great text features.

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Finally, my number one author for nonfiction, Steve Jenkins. It is so hard to only name two books, I love them all! I See a Kookaburra! focuses on six different habitats all over the world. He has included eight animals in each habitat, plus an ant. Of course the end always gives you more information about the habitat and the animal. Never Smile at a Monkey* *And 17 other important thing to remember is collection of cautions, should you meet some of these animals. The warnings are all alliterative. Once again, the trademark of Jenkins (besides the incredible paper art) are the additional facts you find because he has whetted your appetite to know more.

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So there you have my favorite nonfiction titles, today. I am so excited that authors have created such engaging books for our students to read. I can’t wait to read about everyone’s favorite nonfiction!

20 thoughts on “Nonfiction Titles

  1. mag says:

    Thank you for all those great titles, and the pictures. I’m also envious of your slice of life banner. I posted the slice graphic once, but haven’t had the time to play with attaching it permanently. I love the challenge of writing factual information for kids. I try to keep it interesting and fun, but informative too.

  2. jacbalen says:

    Add me to the list of people adding the Backyard book series to their wish lists! Lots of familiar titles here, and yes Steve Jenkins is turning out to be a favourite for all.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Fantastic list! You share many of my favourite titles/authors – Steve Jenkins, Nicola Davies and Aston/Long. Really there are so many great nonfiction titles out there – it’s so fun to see everyone’s favourites. I recently found Atlantic at the library and just loved the voice of the ocean telling the story. I am adding Gentle Giant Octopus to my list to look for! Thanks!

  4. Jaana says:

    I think you are becoming my online reference librarian! Bookmark Elsie’s post, and return when in need of a great non-fiction read aloud! You just made my life so much easier. Thank you!

  5. Those all look delightful! I used Surprising Sharks with my summer school ELLs several years ago when we had an “ocean” unit, and I thought it was great!

    I’ve been thinking a lot about non-fiction lately because it’s definitely a book gap for me and in our classroom. Finding non-fiction that’s accessible for ELLs and yet not too childish for high schoolers is a big challenge. We have plenty of great NF picture books for the beginners, but we have hardly any for our intermediate & advanced kids. Let me know if you know of any that might be good for them!

  6. Elsie,
    I’m so glad you joined the conversation. I forgot about the “Are You a ___?” series. I need to get those for my classroom. I love “White Owl, Barn Owl” and had it in my original stack.

    I ran across An Egg is Quiet as I was reviewing books for the event. I didn’t realize how many titles were a part of this series. “A Butterfly is Patient” is new to me. Thanks for sharing so many great titles. Off to put them in my library book bag.


  7. Thank you for sharing. I have to check out which of these we have in the school library and which ones we can add to our collection. We read a lot of non-fiction for our units of inquiry, but I have not used NF read aloud outside the units. Something to consider.

  8. Elsie,
    Thank you for this curated set. Having used an article (from Lucy Calkins Readers Workshop) on “The Amazing Octopus” to teach structure of NF, I have collected octopus video clips….one a giant octopus taking out a shark, which changed my understanding of octopuses. Predators and smart.
    I want to order every title in your collection! Thanks.

  9. Elsie,
    Thanks for sharing your list! I really want to check out all of the stories you shared here. I recently read A Rock is Lively and reviewed it for my non-fiction picture book challenge. This will definitely be a great resource! I am tweeting your list!

  10. Wonderful list, Elsie – especially Never Smile at a Monkey…i need to get that one! We are just concluding our nonfiction unit, now – and the big surprise to my kids? It was FUN!

  11. Elsie your passion for these titles really comes through. I have never heard of Hatch and Surprising Sharks has been on a few people’s lists, so these are the two titles I am adding to my ever-growing list!

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Wow-these are great titles, Elsie. I have shared “A Rock Is Lively”. I have the seed one, but now for the butterfly! And, I’ve already noted two other Steve Jenkins books. I guess I’d better look for his books! Thank you for all of these!

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