2020 Favorite Kids Nonfiction

It’s book list season! I’ve read a lot this year, and I am excited to highlight my favorite releases of 2020. I’m thrilled to share my 2020 Favorite Kids Nonfiction Books.

Nonfiction is not my favorite. I really enjoy stories, and I’m rarely able to simply enjoy a nonfiction book (I struggle with documentaries too). After examining what I had read in the first half of 2020, I made an effort to increase the amount of nonfiction I read, particularly biographies. I’m sure this list is missing many great titles from this year–please share your favorites in the comments below!

2020 Favorite Kids Nonfiction

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with  Disabilities Changed Everything (Inspiring Activism and Diversity Book  About Children with Special Needs): Bay Pimentel, Annette, Ali, Nabi,  Keelan-Chaffins,

All the Way to the Top
by Annette Bay Pimentel and Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali
Learn about real-life activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, who crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol building in her fight for laws requiring accessibility of public spaces.

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Animal Showdown
by Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Which animal is most acrobatic? Loudest? Most venomous? Find out in the newest round of animal matchups. I like that this series isn’t quite as clear cut as the Who Would Win books. While some of these questions have just one answer–like the loudest animal–the book makes the reader look at the stats and facts to figure that out (or, in the cases of less clear cut matchups, the answer is up to the reader).

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom: Weatherford, Carole Boston,  Wood, Michele: 9780763691561: Amazon.com: Books

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Michelle Wood
Henry Brown looked for a way to escape slavery, but instead of running from place to place on the Underground Railroad, he packed himself in a box and shipped himself to freedom. Carole Boston Weatherford’s beautiful poetry frames his story. Each poem is just six lines–each line representing a side of a box. Brown’s words and writings are scattered throughout, allowing his voice to shine through.

Dream Builder: Lyons, Kelly, Freeman;Laura, Freeman;Laura: 9781620149553:  Amazon.com: Books

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
by Kelly Starling Lyons and Laura Freeman
Learn about the life of Philip Freelon, a member of the team of architects that designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. A beautiful biography that explores Freelon’s story a bit more deeply than other recent picture book biographies have covered their subjects.

Dung for Dinner: A Stomach-Churning Look at the Animal Poop, Pee, Vomit,  and Secretions that People Have Eaten (and Often Still Do!): Virnig,  Christine, Briggs, Korwin: 9781250246790: Amazon.com: Books

Dung for Dinner
by Christine Virnig
Humans wouldn’t eat poop…right? Learn a ton of fun facts about insect vomit, bug secretions, rodent poop, and human pee that are sure to get young readers excited to discover more (assuming they have a strong stomach). Told with plenty of humor that will keep you turning the pages.

Eat Your Rocks, Croc!: Dr. Glider's Advice for Troubled Animals (1):  Keating, Jess, Oswald, Pete: 9781338239881: Amazon.com: Books

Eat Your Rocks, Croc!
by Jess Keating
Follow Dr. Sugar Glider around the world, as he helps animals with their problems. How can I get these humans to stop chasing me? Why does my stomach hurt? Paired with wonderful illustrations that make this an extra fun read.

Eels (Superpower Field Guide): Poliquin, Rachel, Frith, Nicholas John:  9780358272588: Amazon.com: Books

by Rachel Poliquin and Nicholas John Frith
Eels have superpowers! Well, not exactly, but they can do some pretty amazing things, like turn invisible and climb up walls, and they all have a super secret headquarters in some of the darkest parts of the ocean. Great writing paired with all kinds of fantastic facts.

Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!: Lowery,  Mike, Lowery, Mike: 9781338359732: Amazon.com: Books

Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!
by Mike Lowery
Learn everything you can imagine about sharks, oceans, and other underwater creatures in this kid-friendly fact book. Includes a ton of great information such as the differences between each ocean, profiles on each shark species, and many a poop or snot related fast fact. The book ends with really simple How to Draw instructions for various sea creatures. The well-thought out design (with kids in mind) will make this book a winner.

Amazon.com: Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots (9781984816269): Rex, Michael,  Rex, Michael: Books

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
by Michael Rex
Robots and silly illustrations help kids practice recognizing the difference between a fact and an opinion. And remember–sometimes we have to wait until we have more information before knowing if something is a fact or an opinion. Try this with elementary school readers

Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the  Right to Vote: Chambers, Veronica, The Staff of The New York Times:  9780358408307: Amazon.com: Books

Finish the Fight!
by Veronica Chambers and the Staff of the New York Times
Thousands of women fought, spoke up, marched, and led protests that led to women earning the right to vote. Finish the Fight highlights those lesser known heroes: the Haudenosaunee women, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Elizabeth Piper Ensley, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Jovita Idar, Susette La Flesche Tibbles, and Litikala-Sa. An excellent compilation, highlighting women who aren’t often mentioned in history textbooks.

Fly, Girl, Fly!: Shaesta Waiz Soars around the World | Beaming Books

Fly, Girl, Fly: Shaesta Waiz Soars Around the World
by Nancy Roe Pimm and Alexandra Bye
Shaesta Waiz became the youngest woman in history, and the first woman from Afghanistan to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world. An inspirational picture book biography about a diverse individual with an amazing story.

I Am Not A Label: addressing stories of disability representation for older  children - Disability Arts Online

I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes, and Activists From Past and Present
by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Mark Baldo
This gorgeously illustrated collective biography features the stories of 34 disabled individuals who are artists, musicians, athletes, innovators, activists, and more. While there have been a plethora of collective biographies in recent years, this one’s focus on people with disabilities (a group very underrepresented in children’s books) is refreshing, along with its well thought out collection of diverse people from around the world with a variety of types of disabilities.

Incredible Jobs You've (probably) Never Heard of - Natalie Labarre -  9781788004770 - Allen & Unwin - Australia

Incredible Jobs You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of
by Natalie Labarre
This physically large book contains a collection of really unique jobs that you–even you adults–have probably never heard of. Jobs like Elephant Dresser, Odor Tester (of sweaty armpits), Warden of the Swans, bicycle fisher, and more. Cute games will keep younger readers interested.

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of  America's Presidents (Presidents Book for Kids; History of United States  Presidents When They Were Young): Messner, Kate, Rex, Adam: 9781452174884:  Amazon.com: Books

The Next President
by Kate Messner and Adam Rex
We know the name of the current President of the United States. We might, if the timing is right, know the name of the next President. But we don’t often think too far past that point. Did you know that when George Washington became the first president, there were nine future presidents living their lives? When John F. Kennedy was sworn in, the next ten (eleven, as we now know) presidents were alive too. Some were in politics, one was hosting television, a few were in their teens, and one was just born. This book takes a fascinating approach to U.S. presidential history, always thinking towards the future.

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History: Metcalf,  Lindsay H., Dawson, Keila V., Bradley, Jeanette, Bradley, Jeanette:  9781623541316: Amazon.com: Books

No Voice Too Small
by Lindsay H. Metclaf, Keilla V. Dawson, & Jeanette Bradley
Grown-ups aren’t the only people making history: young, kid activists are changing the world too. Read poetry, quotes, and prose about fourteen kids changing the world right now.

The Power of Her Pen | Book by Lesa Cline-Ransome, John Parra | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

The Power of Her Pen
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Ethel Payne started following stories as a reporter for her school newspaper, but soon her amazing talents led her all the way to the White House briefing room. Payne was never afraid to ask the tough questions, especially during the Civil Rights era.

Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance | CBC Books

Powwow: A Celebration Through Song and Dance
by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane
Learn about the history of celebrations of Indigenous song and dance–powwows. Author Pheasant-Neganigwane explores powwow history and culture in all of North America, with a focus on Canada. Her words are paired with beautiful photographs, creating a rich book that will serve as a wonderful introduction to these events for young readers.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Consent | Book by Isabella Rotman, Luke Howard |  Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

A Quick & Easy Guide to Consent
by Isabella Rotman
Sargent Yes Means Yes will lead you through consent–including the important difference between basic consent and affirmative consent. Contains a ton of excellent points about communication and assumptions. A must read for everyone.

RESPECT | Book by Carole Boston Weatherford, Frank Morrison | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

by Carole Boston Weatherford
So beautiful! This biography of Aretha Franklin is visually stunning. The illustrations, the headers, type face, and framing of the text in words (spelled out RESPECT style) and rhyming couplets all blend together for a truly wonderful reading experience. I’ve been itching to plan a Little People, Big Dreams Aretha Franklin program, and this is most definitely going to be featured.

Say Her Name | Zetta Elliott

Say Her Name
by Zetta Elliott and Loveis Wise
A collection of nearly 50 beautiful poems celebrating Black women, resilience, and strength. Many are heartbreaking but also empowering. A visually gorgeous book that is accessible and appealing to upper elementary school readers, middle school readers, and beyond.

Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb eBook by Veronica Chambers - 9780593111079 |  Rakuten Kobo United States

Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb!
by Veronica Chambers and Rachelle Baker
Learn about the life of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress and the first Black woman to seek the nomination of a major party for President of the United States. An inspirational biography emphasizing many verbs that can be applied to Shirley Chisholm’s life and career.

Amazon.com: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National  Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning (9780316453691): Reynolds,  Jason: Books

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Adapted from Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning by the incomparable Jason Reynolds. An absolutely necessary read. If you somehow haven’t picked this book up already, do so immediately. The audio is particularly outstanding (performed by Reynolds).

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth: Hudson, Wade, Willis  Hudson, Cheryl: 9780593121610: Amazon.com: Books

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love, & Truth
by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
A beautiful collection of thirty short stories, poems, letters, and essays from an amazing group of diverse authors and illustrators about how they talk to young people, most often their children, about race. There is so much to unpack here–it isn’t really possible to write decent summaries of some of these stories, as they each have so many layers and nuances. An excellent book to read together as a family, one story at a time. A title I will be recommending to teachers, parents, librarians, and more.

Amazon.com: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take  Action, and Do The Work (9780711245211): Jewell, Tiffany, Durand, Aurelia:  Books

This Book Is Anti-Racist
by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand
Visually appealing with an excellent eye for graphic design, this book teaches about racism and prejudice, provides specific ways to take action and respond to racism, and explains how to be an ally even when the grown-ups in your life aren’t. Part guide, part workbook, and filled with detained endnotes, a bibliography, and suggested further reading. Pair this with Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.

True or Poo?

True or Poo? A Kid’s Guide to Animal Facts & Fakes
by Nick Caruso and Alex G. Griffiths
This easy to read picture book is filled with very important animal questions and their answers. Did you know that wombats have cube-shaped poop? This isn’t because of the shape of their—well, you know. Their poop is shaped further up their intestines, and then dries out and hardens before it…exits.  But wombat poop is not the only the only mystery explored in this book. Do birds keep their nests clean by eating their babies’ poop? Do rabbits eat their poop? Do camels really store water in their humps? Can horses vomit? Can you see penguin poop from space?

Work It, Girl: Michelle Obama: Moss, Caroline: 9780711245174: Amazon.com:  Books

Work It, Girl Series
by Caroline Moss and Sinem Erkas
The Work It, Girl biography series is a ton of fun. While the content isn’t deep or overly thorough, these books provide a great introduction to famous individuals. Their physical design makes them particularly appealing, with well organized layouts and gorgeous paper cut illustrations. Look out for the books featuring Michelle Obama, Mae Jemison, and Beyoncé.

Your Place in the Universe: Chin, Jason: 9780823446230: Amazon.com: Books

Your Place in the Universe
by Jason Chin
An eight-year-old is about five times as tall as this book–but an ostrich is taller than two eight-year-olds standing on each other’s shoulders! But of course an ostrich isn’t as tall as a giraffe, which isn’t as tall as an oak tree. But even the tallest tree–a redwood–is dwarfed by the Eiffel tower. The tallest skyscraper is tiny compared to Mount Everest–but even Mount Everest doesn’t reach outer space. I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I understand why! Chin blends a picture book about size with an epic nonfiction story giving us a glimpse of our place in the universe.


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