Visual texts have an extraordinary ability to connect with readers on an emotional level. Just as picture books support literacy and improve comprehension, combining facts with images helps children to understand, absorb and retain information. Illustrated nonfiction books make educational material more accessible and appealing to young people.
By sparking curiosity, capturing imaginations, making children laugh or doing all at once, nonfiction picture books present facts in a uniquely memorable way. They’re ideal for engaging children who don’t consider themselves ‘readers’ and fostering a love of literature in those not especially interested in books. Whether introducing complex concepts, approaching sensitive issues, or just encouraging a child to open a book, there is a wide variety of wonderful publications available. Here are a few of my favourites…
Interview with a Shark and Interview with a Tiger by Andy Seed and Nick East
Presented as a series of humorous Q&A sessions with fierce beasts, these books are brilliant for reading aloud as well as keeping in a class library.
Freaky, Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell
This introduces fascinating fish in an entertaining way with hilarious illustrations and a freakiness or funkiness rating on every page.
Science and Nature
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark by Zoë Armstrong and Anja Sušanj
This text explains bioluminescence and biofluorescence, and shows how and why some animals make or borrow light.
Nano by Dr. Jess Wade and Melissa Castrillón
This is an intriguing exploration of molecules, atoms and nanotechnology, a cutting-edge area of STEM, with exquisite illustrations.
The Magic of Sleep by Vicky Woodgate
A wonderful text which illuminates the science and history of slumber, and finds evidence for some myths while debunking common misconceptions.
History and Biography
Welcome to our World by Moira Butterfield and Harriet Lynas
This intriguing book introduces children to different traditions and languages from around the globe, with almost 100 countries featured.
A Plan for the People by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
Outlining Nelson Mandela’s history and heritage, this is an empowering, inspiring and hopeful read.
How to Change the World by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Annabel Tempest
This book features fifteen fantastic stories of people working together to make a difference.
Yuval Zommer’s Big Book series covers birds, plants, marine life and insects, and and places children at the heart of the natural world. Worth buying for their illustrations alone, these attractive references books are packed with information.
Time to Move South for Winter by Clare Helen Welsh and Jenny Løvlie documents the migratory journeys of different animals with lyrical language and stunning illustrations.
Dee the Bee by Dolores Keaveney explains pollination and its vital role in nature with vibrant images and a lively rhyming text.
Fox by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus combines story and science to discuss death with children in a practical, thought-provoking and tender way.
Moth, by the same author and illustrator team, introduces Darwin's theory of natural selection by showing how animals evolve to survive.
Meet the Planets and Meet the Oceans by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin take children on spectacular tours through space and around the world.
Sing like a Whale by Moira Butterfield and Gwen Millward teaches readers how to sound and behave like different animals, while learning about each creature.
The Calm Book by Alex Allan and Anne Wilson explains emotions and how the brain works, and includes lots of different techniques to restore a sense of calm.
Ciara O’Hara is a freelance copywriter, editor and publicist who blogs about children’s books at picturebooksnob.com and can be found on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as @picturebooksnob.
Lenses into Learning is the guest post feature of this website. Here, educators spanning a variety of educational sectors share opinion pieces, recommendations and thematic articles to inspire conversation, development and learning.