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:
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:
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
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
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.
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!
Great idea for a post…it has given me an idea for a post too. *goes off to plot post* Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful titles.
🙂 So glad! Love that the sharing of titles here leads to more sharing from you! Books, books, books! What could be better?
I just bought Weeds Find a Way. I’m fascinated to find out how weeds can be helpful since they seem to be a perpetual headache for me!
I so hear you! Weeds are not my friends. But this book is certainly gorgeous! I wouldn’t mind if these images sprouted all over my walls.
Great post! I’m definitely happy when I see books I recognize because I’m glad someone else likes them too. What Would Alice Do? and A Home for Emerson are beautiful books too.
Thanks for sharing some other titles you love Earl. It is lovely to see when a book is appreciated by so many. Agreed!
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.
I’ve read most of those and they are great. Love the covers on them also.
I am so pleased these titles are adored by many!
Such a fantastic post. Definitely a lot of swoon worthy books. Thanks!
So glad that you agree! Isn’t it amazing that it isn’t just the fiction titles that have such lovely illustrations?
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!
Pinned this post so I can revisit later. So many wonderful books! My library is going to be getting quite a request after this one.
Also, I really loved the collages of covers. Beautiful.
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!