Growing Reader


12 Nonfiction Books Kids Will
Actually Read

by Kari Ness Riedel

Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill, Blend Images/Getty Images

Over the past couple of years, you may have noticed your child’s teachers placing greater emphasis on reading nonfiction. With the adoption of Common Core standards in many states, elementary-school students are now expected to spend 50% of their reading time on literature and 50% on informational texts (i.e., nonfiction) to help them develop deeper knowledge of the world.

While some kids naturally gravitate toward informational writing, those who love a good story often feel that reading nonfiction is a chore. Drawing from my web site — a social network where kids between the ages of 7 and 13 safely share reviews and book recommendations with friends — here are 12 nonfiction books that have gotten rave reviews from young readers.

  • Graphic Novel Autobiographies

  • El Deafo

    by Cece Bell

    This Newbery Honor book is the author’s true story of suffering hearing loss at age four and of her experiences navigating elementary school with her Phonic Ear hearing aids. Funny, sweet, and relatable to all kids. Recommended for 3rd grade and up.

  • Smile

    by Raina Telgemeier

    Being in sixth grade is hard enough — but it was made worse for author Raina Telgemeier when she fell and knocked out her two front teeth. Smile recounts her painful and hilarious adventures of orthodontic treatments and the other struggles she overcomes throughout middle and high school. Kids literally line up to check out this über-popular book from the library. Recommended for 4th grade and up.

  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

    by Lucy Knisley

    The coming-of-age story of Lucy, a comic artist who is the daughter of a chef and a foodie. Filled with recipes and memories of food that shaped her family life, friendships, and career choices, this book is great for kids who have an interest in cooking or just enjoy a good memoir. Some mature references; recommended for 6th grade and up.