Best Nonfiction to Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

The next in my series of BEST BOOKS TO GIVE KIDS YOU DON’T KNOW VERY WELL, my picks in nonfiction, below.

Stay tuned for poetry picks.


For The Kid Who Is Nuts About Dogs

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs, by Michaela Muntean, photos by K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski, Scholastic, ages 5 and up

Circus performer, Luciano Anastasini rescues unwanted dogs and uses their talents in his Big Apple Circus act. The full-color photographs and close-up portraits telegraph the joy of these working partners, as does the following video.


For The Kid Who Is Always Picking Up Stuff At The Beach

Life in the Ocean: the Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola, (Macmillan/FSG), ages 6 and up

Nivoli has captured the adventuresome inventiveness of a pioneering scientist in this picture book biography.  We discover a mysterious richly populated underwater world as Earle finds new ways to observe and interact with multiple species.


Great for the Whole Family to Share


Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals, by Michael Hearst, Diagrams, artwork and other visuals by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright and Jelmer Noordeman, (Chronicle), ages 5 and up

From the platypus entering the first end papers to the moment he swims off the final ones, we are enthralled by the information and sheer artistry in bookmaking of this compendium of odd living things from around the globe. Hearst’s Web site continues the story, with news about new discoveries.

For The Kid Who Has To KNOW And You Don’t Have The Answers

For The Kid Who Has To KNOW And You Don’t Have The Answers

A Black Hole Is Not A Holewritten by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, illustrated by Michael Carroll, Charlebridge (Charlesbridge), ages 10 and up

DeCristafano takes a complicated topic and teases it apart, exploring discoveries and theories with a light but not silly humor assisted by Carroll’s diagrams and illustrations. The book tells you everything you wanted to know about black holes but were afraid to ask.


For The Kid Who Picks Up Every Insect And Brings It Home


Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard, by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz, (Macmillan/Henry Holt), ages 7 and up

No matter how old we are and no matter where we live we can participate in the community of scientific discovery. As we observe and record information about the world around us, we become part of the grand tradition of everyday people supporting working scientists in their quest for knowledge.


No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, artwork by R. Gregory Christie, (Lerner/LAB), YA and adult crossover

Although classified as fiction, the author used archival materials, extensive bibliographic resources and interviews to create a “documentary novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem bookseller.” She describes the impact that one man had on an entire community as “just a book bookstore owner.” Christie’s  paintings evoke a time, a place and a people. A splendid volume to give adults as well as teens.

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