Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the nonfiction section at the local library. My passions varied. Sometimes it was Indian lore and how to make a teepee (mine never stayed up), horses, kitchen science, or true ghost stories at Halloween. Basically I preferred the real world over a fictional one. I still do. That’s probably why I write nonfiction for kids today.
I’m proud to be part of a cadre of writers who are constantly coming up with amazing true stories and innovative ways to tell them. There is narrative nonfiction written with a story arc, books with two tiers of text to hook children reading at different levels, and books that dig deep into subjects kids care about. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Rah, Rah Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre is a rollicking rhyme through a farmer’s market. A great read-aloud for little ones (and teenage grocery clerks who don’t know bok choy from broccoli).
Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy will catch a young reader’s eye with the tiger on the cover. And the clear text and bright artwork inside will have your child checking out the symmetry in your face, your food, your furniture….
Older students will enjoy Those Rebels, John & Tom. Author Barbara Kerley turns stone-faced historical figures John Adams and Thomas Jefferson into real people who worked together and argued to create a nation. Edwin Fotheringham’s humorous art perfectly captures Kerley’s take on these two amazing men.
You can follow that up with Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock. It tells the story of how book-crazy Jefferson helped create the Library of Congress. Each page is filled with John O’Brien’s rich illustrations and primary source quotes.
Need to explain the Big Bang? Then grab Older than the Stars by Karen C. Fox. The main text written in the style of The House That Jack Built can be read by young readers, but those interested in the science behind the “puffs” and “bangs” can read the side text about atoms of helium and hydrogen, gravity and galaxies.
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole is a fun look at a dark subject. Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano’s conversational style is right on target for any curious middle-schooler (or adult) who wants to know how scientists know about stuff they can’t see.
So, if your child gravitates to the nonfiction section of the library – Celebrate their passions! Together you can learn about lizards, or lasers, or (like one kid in my neighborhood) Liberace (and hope the fad fades fast).
For more award-winning nonfiction ideas checkout http://inkthinktank.com/.