It is music to a mother’s ear when your child says, “I want to read more non-fiction.” Like most kids, we go through our phases, but I think that part of J’s desire to read non-fiction comes from the great series that we have found.
Magic Tree House Fact Tracker – These books rock. Truly. The first 8 books in the series were written by Mary Pope Osborne and her husband Will Osborne. All of the books after that were co-written by Osborne’s sister, Natalie Pope Bryce. These take use a single topic that one of the Magic Tree House books as a jumping off point to give young researchers a wealth of information. The language is accessible for the kids and there are black and white illustrations throughout. The first one we read was about Pilgrims, but since then we have purchased other topics that grab J’s attention – dolphins, penguins, horses and tornados. These can be read with, or without, knowledge of the fiction book that works as a companion. The reading levels vary on these books, but the most important thing is finding a topic that your child enjoys.
Let’s Read & Find Out Science – This is a neat series of picture books aimed to “introduce basic science concepts to young children and satisfy their curiosity about how the world works.” They come in two levels for different age groups and we have enjoyed a wide variety of topics. While the books can be relatively simplistic, they are made for our earliest learners and older kids can still get something out of them. J sometimes forgets that we have a ton of these on the shelf, but then she finds them again and it is like a new toy. Each book also features a “find out more about” section with additional facts and/or activities at the end of the book. There are a ton a topics, good for any inquisitive mind.
If You Lived – While I was writing this post, Anna at The Measured Mom wrote a post about the If You Lived series. I have seen this series in Barnes & Noble many times, but somewhat figured that J was too young for them. However, according to Anna’s post, young kids can also be interested in these. Given some fascination that we have had lately with history, especially the periods of the revolutionary war, the depression and WWII, I think it is high time that we purchase some of these books.
Who was... – We only just recently found this series. I had seen them in the bookstore but wasn’t sure that we were quite ready yet. Then I was shopping for a birthday present and saw “Who is Jane Goodall?” and thought that it was the perfect present for an animal loving 8 year old girl. At the same time, I bought J the book on Sally Ride since she has had a love of space. These are great early biographies for kids.
Step Into Reading – These books, put out by Random House, are a little harder to focus on because they are a part of a much larger series that just encourages kids to read. However, they have a number of great titles in the step 3 and 4 levels that are non-fiction. These books take a subject and use beautiful color imagery along with easy to read language. We have read The Titanic: Lost…And Found, Whales: The Gentle Giants, The First Thanksgiving and Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark among others. The Helen Keller biography was written like a story and is therefore something easy for younger kids to understand. The books on Whales and Dolphins are both marvelous in the amounts of facts that they are able to provide to get kids excited by the subjects.
There are of course tons of stand alone books out there as well, but it is nice to find a good series or two that you can rely on.