Parenting Tips

Nonfiction Books Your Kids Will Love (Yes, Really!)

By: Pam Abrams
Man and young boy reading books together outside.
5 minutes to read
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Reading and Writing
Social Emotional

When my son Mickey was in second or third grade, a favorite book of his (and mine) was Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, a cookbook with instructions for making Lickable Wallpaper, Stink Bugs’ Eggs and Peppermint Pencil Erasers. For many years, that book held a sacred place on my son’s bookshelf, right between James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.

Honor all print, the experts say.

And we should happily heed and celebrate our kids’ delight in the real world.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of nonfiction categories in which the offerings are rich, along with some favorite book titles for kids in the 6 to 12 age range. With nonfiction, age recommendations matter less because texts are often visually driven. The key is to let your child dive into a topic of interest; the reading level will likely follow. And share these books together! Kids love to pass along facts or bits of wisdom gleaned from real-life stories. Keep your ears open and ask questions when your child is browsing, because the stuff in these books makes for rich conversation.

1. Category: Food

Such as: Cookbooks, fun food ideas

Titles kids love: Funny Food Made Easy. For decades, through a series of delightful books, Ed Emberly taught kids how to draw funny faces, animals and more with simple step-by-step illustrations. Now, Claire (author) and Bill (photographer) Wurtzel do the same with photography and food. Captioned photos lay out how to concoct healthy playful snacks and meals—banana birds, bread mobiles, omelet families—that kids as young as 6 will love to create and then eat. Supplemental recipes, nutrition facts and tips up the reading ante.

Book cover for Funny Food Made Easy

2. Category: Music

Such as: Celebrity bios, genre histories

Titles kids love: Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie Robertson of The Band fame. You might have to beg your child to share this one with you. A book/CD combo, this volume pays tribute to about two dozen musical giants, including The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Dylan. Recommended for the 9 to 12 set.

Book cover for Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World

3. Category: Humor

Such as: Jokes and riddles, pranks, tongue twisters, trivia, poetry

Titles kids love: Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse by Leslie Bulion. Outrageous humor meets basic anatomy in poetic riddles that will both tickle and inform readers in the 8 to 12 age bracket. You’ll never quite think of the heart, pancreas or tongue in the same way after reading this unique take on the human body.

Book cover for Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse

4. Category: Facts and Feats

Such as: Record breakers, lists

See Also: 15 Cool Things for Kids to Read

Titles kids love: 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3. This book really does cover (or uncover) facts about a ton of things that kids love–sharks, robots, bubblegum, toys. Readers ages 8 to 12 won’t be able to stop asking you, “Did you know…?”

Book Cover for 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3

5. Category: Horticulture

Such as: How-to gardening, books about plants and flowers

Titles kids love: Botanicum is a truly gorgeous oversize volume in an equally gorgeous series called Welcome to the Museum, which brings institutions like botanical gardens and natural history museums to life at home. This title will engage and inspire kids 10 and up interested in trees, flowers, plants, gardening, etc. It’s a great gift.

Book cover for Botanicum


6. Category: Geography and Travel

Such as: Highly illustrated books by experts and artists

Titles kids love: Maps. If you’re going (or ever have been) to another country, Maps will be a delight to peruse. Like a Richard Scarry book for older readers and focused on all the continents and countries on Earth, this coffee-table book by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński is a visual feast, filled with cultural, historical and geographic facts. The best armchair travel guide ever for 6- to 12-year-olds!

Book cover for Maps


7. Category: Biographies

Such as: Picture books, the Who Was series

Titles kids love: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality is a picture book for 6- to 9-year-olds that’s won all kinds of praise since it was published in 2017. It tells the true-life story of one of America’s most admired public servants.

Book cover for Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G vs. Inequality


8. Category: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math)

Such as: Project books and kits, illustrated guides to how things work

Titles kids love: In Howtoons: Tools of Mass Construction, real-life engineering meets a comic-book sibling duo who use everyday objects to invent toys that readers can build.

Book cover for Howtoons: Tools of Mass Construction

Find joy-filled learning in workbooks for preschool, kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Our signature blend of puzzles, humor and skills practice aligned with school standards makes learning fun.

The author of the article, Pam Abrams.
By: Pam Abrams

Pam Abrams has written for and about children for many years, and currently serves as Program Director for Jacob's Digs, a non-profit organization in New York City. She’s a mom of two.