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Why Kids Need Non-Fiction Picture Books

Kids learn so much by reading non-fiction stories! Learn why we need non fiction books for kids, and discover a non fiction picture book about Chuck Yeager.

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Last week I got to interview Duke University professor turned picture book author Alan W. Biermann as part of the book tour for his new non-fiction picture book, Chuck Yeager Goes Supersonic. This engaging and beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of Chuck Yeager, the first person ever to break the sound barrier and travel at supersonic speeds. The book is full of fascinating details about Yeager’s journey towards the first successful supersonic flight, and – thanks probably to being written by a proper scientist – it includes explanations on sound and how sound waves work that make it a wonderful lead-in story for a lesson unit on sound as well as a lesson unit on aviation!

Why Do Kids Need Non-Fiction Picture Books?

Chuck Yeager Goes Supersonic

Non-fiction picture books are great for kids to read for pleasure, as well as through lesson units! One of the things that Dr. Biermann emphasized to me during my phone interview was the importance of non-fiction picture books for kids. He pointed out that, so often, we as parents pick out fictional picture books for our kids. Those books are wonderful. So are non-fiction picture books! Biermann explained that, in his experience, kids get really interested in true stories. If you can capture their interest they will keep learning about a subject. I know that this has proven to be a wonderful way to get my own kids to do some self-motivated learning! I have even put fiction and non-fiction books on the same topic out for them, and given the choice they will often gravitate towards the non-fiction choices – particularly if it is a new subject that they do not know very much about (like Japan). Kids are naturally curious and born learners. Non-fiction picture books are an incredibly rewarding way for children to explore a new subject at their own pace.

Do you have a child who loves adventure, airplanes, and science? This is a book for them! All four of mine have really enjoyed this story!

Easy Sound Experiment

The science of sound is an important part of this book! Since I had an author who clearly understood the science of sound really well, I asked him to recommend a simple experiment to try out with kids. He told me to go a big field or park. Stand on one end, and have your kids stand on the other end. Take two boards (or something that will be similarly loud) and slap them together. Your kids will be able to see the boards hit before they hear the noise. Magical!

I wrote this post as part of a campaign with Enlist Moms. All opinions are my own.

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

16 thoughts on “Why Kids Need Non-Fiction Picture Books”

  1. You are so right! Non-fiction picture books are a great way for children to learn more about the world. Chuck Yeager Goes Super Sonic looks like a good read.

    1. Emma was talking to me yesterday about how she really likes a well-told non-fiction story because it feels like fiction – I think because fiction books work ONLY by drawing the reader in, while some non-fiction simply presents facts without trying to engage the reader. This book does a WONDERFUL job of drawing the reader in.

  2. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    This book looks delightful! My daughter goes back and forth on non-fiction, but usually she reads a mix of fiction and non-fiction books.

  3. My kids do enjoy non-fiction picture books, and I will be on the lookout for this one. Love the experiment idea!

  4. Agreed! Non-fiction books rock. :) Plus, it depends a lot on your child. With my firstborn, I was ready to read some favorite fictional picture books and he just wanted the non-fiction books about trucks, cars, planes, tractors, farming, etc. So, we read those (over and over and over again). When he started reading on his own, he still preferred historical fiction or reality-based fiction, but once he hit 3rd grade – he was more than ready for the fantasy series and Harry Potter, etc. They’ll get there!

    This is an issue near and dear to my own heart since I think that if we read more reality-based fiction stories to children, they would have an easier time growing their vocabulary. It’s a project I’ve been working on (albeit slowly)…and categorized by Montessori topics. Here’s the recap for the practical life series of books: http://artisaneducation.com/books-montessori-practical-life-review/

  5. I will be looking for this one! Thanks for a great post MaryAnne and looking forward to trying Dr. Biermann experiment :-)

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