Everyone loves a good story, especially kids! And some of the best stories are the true stories about real people, events, other cultures, and science. Nonfiction books allow kids to explore the world as it was and as it is, and inspire them to dream big about the ways they can change the world. Below are books about real-life people and topics to help you foster a love of learning in kids of all ages.
Preschool and Early Grades (Ages 3–8)
How does it feel to smile, or to stick out your bottom lip? With heart and humor, How to Train Your Pet Brain invites kids to explore how their bodies and minds work together to process emotions. Told from the perspective of a child, this unexpectedly funny take on the tricky topic of mental health follows two characters learning to train their pet brains. Lighthearted illustrations paired with grounded language help kids understand why their brain does what it does, teach that big feelings are okay, and guide kids through a simple practice to help them feel calm.
Download the free How to Train Your Pet Brain Educator’s Guide to help kids continue learning about how they can train their own pet brain.
Shaesta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreamed of doing great things. But she had some obstacles to overcome first: leave a refugee camp, make a new life in America, be the first in her family to go to college, and overcome her fear of flying. At the age of thirty, Shaesta was the youngest woman and the first from Afghanistan to circumnavigate the globe by herself in a single-engine aircraft. Fly, Girl, Fly! tells her incredible story and encourages all kids, especially young girls, to pursue their dreams and follow their heart.
Early Grade (Ages 5–8)
As a Jewish girl in England, Rosalind Franklin grew up against the backdrop of World War II. Fascinated with the natural world, Rosalind developed a passion for science during a time when few women were recognized for their contributions to the field.
As a scientist, she captured an image of DNA that was unlike any other image that had been seen before. She saw an image of a helix made up of repeating strands of DNA. This was what the DNA double helix looked like up close—one of the most important findings of the twentieth century. An unsung hero of molecular science, Rosalind persisted even when men took credit for her work, going on to research the molecular shape of viruses. Rosalind Looked Closer is sure to inspire educators and parents interested in encouraging curiosity and a passion for STEM in girls and boys.
On the tropical island of Puerto Rico, there was an ancient banyan tree. This beloved tree stood on the shore of the island for over a hundred years—until the biggest hurricane in Puerto Rico's history slammed into the island, devastating communities and uprooting that very tree. In The Tree of Hope, Puerto Rican author Anna Orenstein-Cardona weaves an epic tale based on the true story of this bearded watchdog of the island, how the tree was impacted by Hurricane Maria, and how a group of people rallied together to save it.
Late at night, with her children tucked into bed and her husband away on business, Anne Dudley Bradstreet composed poems by candlelight. Puritan women in the 1600s weren't allowed to be writers. But when the world learned about Anne's poetry, even she was astonished by what happened next. This charmingly illustrated picture book tells the inspiring story of how a Puritan woman overcame the obstacles facing women of her era to become one of the most famous poets in history. A gifted writer of deep faith, Anne Bradstreet blazed a trail for the rights of women to study, write, and achieve.
Download the free Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel Educator's Guide for kids to continue learning about Anne Bradstreet and her writing.
In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn't visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could travel to safely. In the first picture book about the creation and distribution of The Green Book, author Keila Dawson and illustrator Alleanna Harris tell the story of the man behind it and how this travel guide opened the road for a safer, more equitable America.
Download the free Opening the Road Educator's Guide for kids to continue learning about Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book!
Middle Grades (Ages 9–13)
The Earth is warming and the climate is changing. We have every reason to be concerned about our planet, our only home. But despite what you may hear, the situation isn't hopeless, and we aren't helpless. In A Kid's Guide to Saving the Planet, meteorologist Paul Douglas thoughtfully presents the daunting problems of climate change and reminds kids that there are things they can do every day to make a difference.
How can kids live smarter right now? Paul Douglas shares 22 realistic solutions and actions that kids can participate in now.
Throughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their words—transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Now it's your turn! Mightier Than the Sword connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference. These richly illustrated stories of inspiring speechmakers, scientists, explorers, authors, poets, activists, and even other kids and young adults will engage and encourage young people to pay attention to their world, to honor their own ideas and dreams, and to embrace the transformative power of words to bring good to the world.
Download the free Mightier Than the Sword Activity Pack for kids to continue learning about people who have changed the world through writing!
Young Black leaders have always been at the forefront of the fight for justice, freedom, and equity. From Khristi Lauren Adams, author of the celebrated Parable of the Brown Girl, comes Black Girls Unbossed, which introduces readers to young Black girls leading the way and changing the world. Like the young women who came before them, Black girls today are saying "enough is enough" and building a better world.
Continue the conversation with the Black Girls Unbossed Discussion Guide—perfect for book clubs, church groups, or individual study.
Religion around the World explores the world's major faiths, making the traditions, beliefs, practices, and history of each accessible to kids. This visually compelling book presents each religion as a rich tradition that has served as a force for human connection and good in the world. Colorful illustrations, charts, graphs, maps, and other infographics, along with clear, age-appropriate text, make this an appealing book for browsing, research, and learning.
The Curious Kids' Guides present cool and surprising information about Christian history and beliefs in an entertaining, visually engaging way for kids. Click here to explore the full series.
Anxiety. It's an emotion that rears its head almost every day, from the normal worries that most of us experience to the anxiety disorders that many kids live with daily. All About Anxiety helps kids learn about what's going on in their brain and central nervous system when they feel anxious. They'll learn about the evolutionary reasons for fear and anxiety and that anxiety isn't always a bad thing—except for when it is! Most importantly, kids will discover new strategies to manage their anxiety so they can live and thrive with anxiety.