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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. Here are 12 nonfiction books that have gotten rave reviews from young readers.

  • Nonfiction Narratives for More Advanced Readers

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

    by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Anna Hymas

    Also available from:

    This Young Readers Edition tells the exciting story of William Kamkwamba, a young boy from Malawi, and how he used scrap metal to invent a windmill and bring electricity to his tiny village. His journey is inspiring and gives kids a broader, more global perspective.
    (Ages 10+)

    Also available from:
  • Amelia Lost

    by Candace Fleming

    Also available from:

    Candace Fleming’s exploration of the infamous Amelia Earhart — her extraordinary accomplishments, doomed final flight, and modern legacy — proves to readers that history can be as thrilling as fantasy, as suspenseful as mystery, and as poignant as the best of fiction.
    (Ages 8 – 12)

    Also available from:
  • How We Got to the Moon

    by John Rocco

    Also available from:

    The story of Apollo 11’s moon landing doesn’t belong only to Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts. It’s also the story of 400,000 people, from engineers to factory workers, who helped NASA during the space race. This is the sort of book one pores over, full of mind-blowing facts and unforgettable stories that culminated in one giant leap for mankind.
    (Ages 10+)

    Also available from:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2020.