Getting to Know Nonfiction: Choosing Nonfiction Picture Books

Young children love to learn about the world around them.  In the past, nonfiction that was available for young children was less than desirable.  Nowadays, there are wonderful nonfiction picture books that serve as fantastic examples for children to learn from as well as enjoy.

So, how should parents and educators go about locating a great nonfiction picture book?

  1. Look for high quality nonfiction picture books that are visually appealing.  Young children tend to be visual learners.  Visually appealing nonfiction is engaging to young learners.  Look for books that have accurate illustrations and photographs.  If it appeals to you, more than likely, it will appeal to your child.
  2. Is the information in the book accurate?  Do the pictures match the facts/text?  Look for information about the research process.  Was an expert consulted?  When reading books that combine nonfiction and fiction (i.e. The Magic School Bus series), use it as an opportunity to help your child understand what is fact and what has been fictionalized and why the author may have chosen to blend the two.  Oftentimes, these types of books tend to be confusing and deceiving to children looking for factual information.
  3. Look for nonfiction picture books that engage the reader through the writing.  Good nonfiction books are clear and coherent.  Are the ideas ordered logically?  Is the writing well organized?  Is the language understandable? Does the author provide an engaging lead that draws the reader in?  Look for books that present information in creative ways.  Notice how vocabulary is introduced and defined.

What other ways might one go about locating great nonfiction picture books?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

This post was inspired by: Gill, S.R. (2009).  What Teachers Need to Know About the “New” Nonfiction.  The Reading Teacher. (63) 4, 260-267.

©2009 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.

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