Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

I am a huge fan of nonfiction picture books in our Elementary classrooms. They are the jumping off point into deep, deep learning. But it is not just the learning that infuses these pages, it is also the beauty of the images that helps lure readers in.

Reasons for nonfiction read alouds? There are many: opportunity for rich discussion, shared learning experiences, new information conveyed, etc. But there is also the visual treat that so many titles provide. The inspiration to wonder, to marvel and to be in awe of our world.

For some students, just the lure of new knowledge is the gateway to reading fantastic nonfiction titles, others need a little nudge. Something beautiful . . .

I have a few students who resist picking up nonfiction titles without some persuasion. I try to entice them with the amazing facts that they might learn. Thinking of a few students in particular, I realize I have been approaching it all wrong. With these children, I should be starting with the images and let them work their magic. Many of our visual learners begin with the illustrations. They become lost in the pictures and then begin reading to answer the questions that start to form.

Do I have enough nonfiction picture books in my collection (or on my wish lists) for these readers?

I started a list. And then I thought I should share . . . .

Each of these titles has made me stop and stare.  Here are 25 of the most gorgeous nonfiction titles out there – absolutely swoon worthy, in my opinion 🙂

Learn more about the Natural World:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

An Egg is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long

Over and Under the Snow written by the Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. (Note: This title is actually fiction but offers a beautiful invitation to begin learning more about the world under the snow)

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Mia Posada

Nest by Jorey Hurley

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher 

Books about Creatures: Small to Gigantic, and all sizes in between:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland

Jumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

Information/Concept titles:

Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Swirl by Swirl (Spirals in Nature) written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Gravity by Jason Chin

Locomotive by Brian Floca 


 Biographies/Memoir Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books: 25 beautiful titles to entice young readers with stunning illustrations From There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Orani My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill 

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully 

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

(I featured a few of these titles in this post last year: Wonder Inducing Nonfiction Read Alouds Some are clearly my favourites!)

What beautiful nonfiction picture books make you swoon? Please share them in the comments.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

NFPB 2014

18 thoughts on “Swoon Worthy Nonfiction Picture Books

  1. Hi Carrie! Thanks for sharing so many engaging nonfiction titles! Have you seen Gandhi: A March to the Sea by Alice B. McGinty? You can pair it with Grandfather Gandhi. Also, my 1st graders swooned over the photos in A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke and, of course, the Nic Bishop books – – Spiders, Snakes, and Lizards!

    • I haven’t read this other Gandhi title – but it is on my TBR list. The Little Book of Sloth was our first nonfiction read aloud of the year. It remained a favourite all year! Children always shared it when we had guests in the room. It was probably one of our best loved, most often read books! I also am a huge fan of Nic Bishop. Seems I should do another post that features nonfiction titles with amazing photographs! Bishop really is incredible. Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  2. How did you put the covers together in the graphic? I’m rather computer illiterate over here, but it looks nice! Great titles and compilation of them. I just love The Tree Lady’s illustrations! A goal of mine is to go through my picture books and put them into categories like this. Great idea!

    • I sent you a message on twitter about this. Super easy! I keep a lot of my teaching picture books in specific categories. Helps when I need to find something on a specific topic for a read aloud.

  3. You’ve done it again, dear Carrie! What a wonderfully-themed set of books! I was particularly taken in by the memoirs/biographies. I have just borrowed quite a number of Kathleen Krull’s biographies for my 12 year old girl and she is enjoying it soo much! 🙂 Truly appreciate the time, the painstaking detail, and your thoughtfulness in crafting your posts, dear Carrie.

    • I really want to read Wilma Unlimited by Krull – she does such interesting books. I too love reading biographies and shared many with my students this year. They really responded to hearing about the interesting lives of others. Lots of inspiration. I am so glad you liked the post Myra!

    • So pleased you see some titles of interest – this was all about celebrating the beautiful illustrations in nonfiction picture books – and there are so many to choose from!

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