Noteworthy Non-Fiction


I will admit that I am not as familiar with juvenile non-fiction as I am with fiction titles. I always have a few students who prefer to read biographies or history books, so I am trying to expand my non-fiction knowledge. I have put together a starter list and am hoping to build it this year. Please let me know what else I can include.

Just a reminder, non-fiction is usually more difficult for children to read than fiction. If your child is reading for pleasure, definitely choose books that are below his/her reading level to keep the comprehension (and enjoyment) high.

While the majority of the titles are intended for a “school aged” audience, there are many that adults will love. I had a father and son read Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World this past school year and both raved about the story.

Biographies: Older Readers– 4th grade through high school

  • Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming
  • Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman
  • A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: the Story of Hannah Breece by Jane Jacobs

Autobiographies: Older Readers– 4th grade through high school

  • Chapters: My Growth as a Writer by Lois Duncan (out of print, copies available through Amazon)
  • Boy by Roald Dahl
  • A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

History: Older Readers– 4th grade through high school

  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
  • Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
  • Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker

Series: Younger Readers– 1st grade through 6th grade (** I included titles that are familiar to me from each of the series, but there are many more from which to choose.)

  • Who Would Win? by Jerry Pallotta
    • Komodo Dragon v. King Cobra
    • Tyrannosaurus Rex v. Velociraptor
  • Step Into Reading (levels 3, 4, and 5) by various authors, Random House Publishers
    • Pompeii… Buried Alive by Edith Davis
    • Moonwalk by Judy Donnelly
    • Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner
  • If You Lived at the Time of … by various authors, Scholastic Books
    • If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution by Kay Moore
  • Interactive History Adventures (You Choose Books) by various authors, Capstone Press Publishers
    • Colonial America by Allison Lassieur
    • Life as a Viking by Allison Lassieur
  • Who Was … by various authors, Grosset & Dunlap
    • Who Was Walt Disney? by Whitney Stewart
    • Who Was Paul Revere? by Roberta Edwards

3 thoughts on “Noteworthy Non-Fiction

  1. I like your list. I personally have always preferred non-fiction to fiction, even when I was very young. I think the realness of what happens, recognizing that it actually happened, made it better for me, like people really could do amazing things and some of them had.

    I noticed you don’t have a lot of science-y books up there, and I always loved space as a kid – actually that’s not true, I still do – so I do have a couple of recommendations:

    I love almost anything by Simon Singh and I think he’s pretty great for teens, but Fermat’s Enigma is probably the most engaging and easiest to read. Another great one is The Code Book, which is basically the coolest book ever written on cryptography.

    How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had it Coming by Mike Brown, while written for adults is easily accessible to anyone over 14, maybe 12 if they’re already into astronomy, but it’s a great book on the outer solar system and it’s very easy to get through.

    The Hunt for Planet X by Govert Schilling is another fave…(teens). It’s a series of short stories on different searches for “Planet X” – whatever that was at the time. It’s great. And the stories are short enough and don’t need to be taken together.

    I guess I would recommend anything with space, dinosaurs, or sea creatures. Pretty sure most kids are agreed all of those things are cool.

    Hopefully one of these is helpful. They’re really more young adult/easy reads, but they’re all very engaging. More appropriate for teens I’d say.

  2. Two Miserable Presidents – it’s about the Civil War and it’s quite entertaining. It’s perfect for kids. My son and I read it together and his teacher loved his reading log comments so much, she borrowed the book from us.

Leave a Reply