What do Abraham Lincoln, Madonna, and the Eiffel Tower all have in common?
No, this isn’t the beginning of a terrible joke. The answer is they’ve all had nonfiction books written about them! Getting kids interested in reading nonfiction books might seem like a daunting task, but if you tailor the books to their interests, you’ll see results.
Choosing nonfiction books to enjoy with your young children is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, many children gravitate toward nonfiction books on their own. If you’d like to encourage your little one to enjoy nonfiction, here are some tips to get started.
Read About People
A great place to start is to look for books about real people. A lot of children gravitate to historical or modern-day figures they identify with, especially if the people have done things your child is interested in. From a young age, kids single out people they look up to and start attaching to their “heroes.” Lucky for them, there are a ton of fascinating biographies and autobiographies out there that are designed specifically for children. Many come in the form of picture books or short-form books that are easily digestible, so you don’t have to worry about the books being too high-level for certain readers.
These books can range from a hardcover comic book that details the achievements of Marie Curie to a board book outlining the incredible talent of Serena Wiliams. No matter what your child is interested in, you have a wide variety of subjects to choose from. Take some time to learn about what your child is interested in, and then find people who have done similar things or are currently engaging in those interests.
Read About Plants and Animals
Of course, not every child is interested in learning about scientists or tennis players. Some children like to focus on things they can find in their immediate environment, like plants and animals. Many children develop affinities for animals like dogs and cats, especially if you have some in your home. An easy way to get your kids reading nonfiction books is to find ones that focus on these topics if they’ve expressed interest in them.
Depending on what your child is looking for, you can find cartoon nonfiction books that detail the daily lives of jungle animals, or you can find books that have real images in them, taken by photographers. From house cats to wild monkeys, to bug-eating plants to endangered flora, there’s something out there for everyone.
If you want to go a step further, another common obsession for kids is dinosaurs! What child doesn’t find these prehistoric lizards mind-blowing? The books available on dinosaurs and other prehistoric critters are endless. Books that talk about plants and animals also tend to be visually appealing, allowing kids who might not be super comfortable with reading a chance to practice context clues. Context clues are super helpful for children because they can look at the images while reading, giving their brains a chance to make connections that might not be so obvious with just text alone.
Read About Real-Life Events
There are books about people and animals, but what about the world in which they live? What events did they live through? Choosing books that focus on real-life events can be a great place to start when it comes to a nonfiction reading list. Finding books that focus on events teaches kids about other people’s history, as well as their own, and helps them understand why the world is the way it is today.
There are children’s nonfiction books about almost every major event that took place in the world, going as far back as the Trojan war and the use of the infamous Trojan Horse. There are also books catered to children that detail revolutionary events in history, like Stonewall or Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Sit-In. While some of these topics can be difficult to talk about and explain to a young child, nonfiction books for kids are designed to present information honestly at a reading level that is suitable. They’re a useful tool for teachers and parents alike to use when talking about difficult topics a child might ask about, as they offer a sense of safety and comfort.
Sometimes nonfiction books can bring up strong emotions (in both children and adults!), so it’s important to acknowledge that after reading about a particularly challenging topic, kids might want to talk about it and learn even more. This might mean finding more resources, going to museums or art galleries, or visiting a local historical center.
Read About Places
Some children are really into geography from a young age and might feel attached to certain countries or regions of the world. The most popular example that comes to mind is Ancient Egypt, which attracts the minds and imaginations of almost every child at some point or another. Finding nonfiction books that focus on places is a fun way for kids to learn about different cultures, languages, customs, and also different histories. From Ancient Greece to modern-day Korea, there are so many fascinating cultures to entertain and delight your small readers.
Reading about places can also be a jumping-off point for kids to get interested in people or real-life events, as many countries and cities are known for their historical figures and dates. However, some children might just be interested in learning about a country’s culture or language, or even just famous buildings found in their cities, and that’s perfectly fine as well. The wonderful thing about nonfiction books is that one thing always leads to another, and the wealth of information can have your child entertained for years to come.
So Much to Learn, So Much Time
Kids have a natural curiosity when it comes to real-world events, issues, people, and animals, so getting them to read nonfiction can actually be quite easy!
Learn more about your child’s interests and shop around for books that match their curiosities. You’ll never know where it will take them or what they (and yourself) will learn. Kidsbooks.com has a ton of great nonfiction books designed for kids of all ages.