The Common Core State Standards place a heavy emphasis on non-fiction texts across the curriculum, but, let’s be honest, a lot of students feel like reading non-fiction is a bit too much like trudging through a textbook. Luckily, that’s just plain untrue, as this list of 30 amazing non-fiction books demonstrates.

Browse through the list to discover books featuring the inventor of chocolate chip cookies, the science of roadkill, the true story of Winnie the Pooh, teens resisting the Nazis, the history of Pride month, and much more. The best part of non-fiction books is that they are often accessible to all ages, because they are accompanied by illustrations, photographs, and infographics for younger readers and informational text for older readers.  

Just so you know, we may get a small share of the sales made through affiliate links on this page.

1. Welcome to the Museum

Series by multiple authors

Welcome to the Museum - non-fiction books

The Welcome to the Museum books are a must for any classroom. There are eight books in total: The Story of Life, Anatomicum, Fungarium, Animalium, Dinosarium, Historium, Botanicum, and Planetarium. These oversized books are the literary equivalent of slowly browsing through a museum. Book chapters are organized into exhibits, and a stunning array of text and gorgeous scientific illustrations accompany each page.

2. Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

By Chris Van Duzer

Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps - non-fiction books

Renaissance maps almost always feature mythical or monstrous creatures gamboling among the waves, but the origins of these creatures are mysterious. Author Van Duzer sets out to explore the monsters in terms of both art and geography, using them as clues into mapmakers of days gone by. This book is packed with information, and the accompanying illustrations make it a home run purchase for any classroom.

3. Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill

By Heather L. Mongomery and Kevin O’Malley

Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill

Author Heather L. Montgomery is a wildlife researcher with a self-described penchant for roadkill. It’s dirty work, but Montgomery makes a case that somebody’s got to do it, and she’s up for the job. She travels the world looking at different ways scientists are using leftover animal remnants to inform their research. A real winner among non-fiction books, it has enough of an “ew” factor to keep even the most indifferent middle schooler entertained for hours.

4. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

By Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear - non-fiction books

This Caldecott Award winner deserves all the praise it has received since its publication. A star among non-fiction books for children, it tells the true story of Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian who rescued a bear during the first World War. The bear, christened Winnie, eventually made her way to the London Zoo, where she was visited by another famous boy named Christopher Robin. Colebourn’s granddaughter is the writer of this sweet story.

5. Humongous Fungus


Humongous Fungus

Many children spend hours learning about the plant and animal kingdoms, inadvertently neglecting the fascinating world of fungi. Cleverly illustrated, Humongous Fungus provides an up-close look at the organisms responsible for keeping our ecosystem ticking along. It has a healthy dose of gross-out science that kids love (think fungal infections) and all sorts of other fungi trivia besides.

6. How We Got to the Moon

By John Rocco

How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science  Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure - non-fiction books

Fans may know author-illustrator John Rocco as the illustrator of the outrageously popular Percy Jackson books. Now, Rocco turns his considerable talents to the story of NASA’s moonshot. He specifically highlights the unsung heroes of the moon mission. This non-fiction book doesn’t focus on the astronauts but instead gives the backstory on the factory workers, seamstresses, and engineers who made the Apollo 11 mission a reality.

7. Science Year by Year: A Visual History, from Stone Tools to Space Travel

By DK and the Smithsonian

Science Year by Year: A Visual History, From Stone Tools to Space Travel - non-fiction books

This book is nothing if not comprehensive. Its detailed timelines highlight scientific discoveries from ancient times to present. Students will marvel at the illustrations and infographics while learning about everything from simple machines to particle accelerators, Stonehenge to Steven Hawking. It’s a fascinating read for all ages.

8. National Parks of the USA

By Kate Siber and illustrated by Chris Turnham

National Parks of the USA

This picture book is organized by regions of the United States, and readers can take an in-depth journey through the most scenic spaces in our country in its pages. A gorgeous illustration accompanies descriptions of each park, and there are sections about flora and fauna in each region, too. Readers will walk away from this book understanding just how important it is to protect these wilderness spaces for future generations.

9. Curious Comparisons: A Life-Size Look at the World Around You

By Jorge Doneiger and illustrated by Guido Chouela, David Sisso, and Marcelo Setton

Curious Comparisons: A Life-Size Look at the World Around You - non-fiction books

This unique informational text helps readers understand measurements of size, time, and scale by comparing everyday objects to one another. Have you ever wondered how many grains of sand there are in a bucket? Or how much the droppings of a Saint Bernard weigh? Wacky questions and witty writing are hallmarks of this book that manages to be both highly entertaining and educational.

10. First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great

By Sandra Neil Wallace, Rich Wallace, and Agata Nowicka

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great - non-fiction books

This book is a celebration of the American melting pot, the idea that we are stronger as a nation when we embrace people from other cultures and learn from them. First Generation includes biographies of American refugees and immigrants from all around the globe, including Sweden, Somalia, Syria, China, and more. It’s a great lens through which children can learn to empathize with citizens of the world.

11. The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth

By Rachel Ignotofsky

The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its  Ecosystems

Rachel Ignotofsky is the author of the bestselling non-fiction book, Women in Science. Now she’s back with this collection of maps and infographics about the diverse ecosystems of the planet. There is an emphasis on conservation and the importance of preserving biodiversity in this book that will appeal to students who love nature.

12. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pederson and the Churchill Club

By Phillip Hoose

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club - non-fiction books

In 1940, a group of teen boys, angry about their country’s refusal to stand up to Hitler, formed a secret society aimed at resisting Nazi occupation of Denmark. What followed was a six-month campaign of sabotage and destruction as the boys did everything in their power to undermine the Third Reich. The boys were ultimately arrested, though their guerilla efforts inspired a lasting Danish resistance. This powerful book shows the importance of standing up for what is right.

13. This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World

By Matt Lemothe

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the  World

This unique picture book follows children around the world – from Uganda to Iran to Japan – and tells the story of each child’s day. This gives young readers a window into other cultures while also allowing them the opportunity to reflect on the things that make all of us the same, no matter where we live in the world.

14. Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space

By Libby Jackson

Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space

Galaxy Girls celebrates the women who have made human space exploration possible. Female astronauts, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, pilots, and more are featured in this beautifully illustrated book.

15. Itch: Everything You Didn’t Know About What Makes You Scratch

By Anita Sanchez and Gilbert Ford

Itch!: Everything You Didn't Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch - non-fiction books

Who knew that the topic of itching could inspire 80 pages of fascinating non-fiction? Authors Anita Sanchez and Gilbert Ford did, because they deliver a wealth of information in Itch, delving into everything from what can cause us to itch (insects and plants and fungus being the main culprits) to ways to soothe an itch once you have one.

16. Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America

By Gail Jarrow

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America

Gail Jarrow uses Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast as a vehicle to discuss fake news back in the 1930s and our continuing battle with fake news today. The 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast was so real that many listeners believed aliens were truly invading the country. The broadcast sparked a national conversation about propaganda and the role of the media in communicating accurate information that continues today. In this gem among non-fiction books, Jarrow masterfully balances the narrative between then and now.

17. Maps

By Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Maps: Mizielinska, Aleksandra, Mizielinski, Daniel

This fun and beautifully illustrated coffee table book is filled with, as the title suggests, nothing but maps. There are maps of wildlife, cuisine, native dress, architecture, notable people such as Count Dracula, and more. Students of all ages will love paging through these detailed maps as they learn more about our world.

18. Start Now!: You Can Make a Difference

By Chelsea Clinton

Start Now!: You Can Make a Difference - non-fiction books

Chelsea Clinton has written a book for aspiring young activists that is an accessible, rather than intimidating, primer on complex global issues such as climate change, bullying, and hunger. Cartoon illustrations accompany the text, as do pictures of children making a difference in the world today.

19. Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community

By Robin Stevenson

Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community

Robin Stevenson has written a fantastic introduction to the history of the Pride movement in which she highlights oft-overlooked groups within the LGBTQIA+ movement. The book is chock-full of historical photos and personal stories from Pride activists. Young readers will walk away understanding there is more to Pride than simply wearing rainbow colors.

20. The Street Beneath My Feet (Look Closer)

By Charlotte Guillain and illustrated by Yuval Zommer

The Street Beneath My Feet (Look Closer)

The Street Beneath My Feet is one of those picture books that appeals to young and older readers alike. It features double-sided foldouts that show readers the world beneath our feet, from sidewalks and dirt all the way to the core of the earth. The foldouts (which expand to eight feet in length) compare the countryside and the city, making it relevant to readers everywhere. It combines archaeology, geology, and engineering for a fun and informative reading experience.

21. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women

By Catherine Thimmesh and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women - non-fiction books

The cover alone will make you want to own this fascinating book. Catherine Thimmesh has written a book that features women inventors and tells the stories of their creations, highlighting things from the beloved chocolate chip cookie to Kevlar to paper bags. The book was updated in 2018 to include more women of diversity and inventors outside of the United States. Younger students will enjoy the illustrations in Melissa Sweet’s signature style, and older tweens and teens will learn much from Thimmesh’s biographies.

22. Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly

By Gail Carson Levine

Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly - non-fiction books

Bestselling author of Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine proves to be a master of non-fiction texts as well as fantasy. In Writing Magic, Levine writes a go-to guide for students who want to share their own stories with the world. She offers practical advice for budding writers on everything from writing dialogue to combating writer’s block. Also included are numerous writing exercises for students to practice their craft, making it a wonderful addition to any classroom library.

23. Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition

By Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures (YRE)

With a recent movie released based on Shetterly’s book, many students will be familiar with the story of four black women mathematicians at NASA who did the calculations – by hand, with slide rules – needed to launch rockets and astronauts safely into space. Though their contributions were invaluable, the women still faced outrageous racism and sexism while performing their feats of mathematical genius.

24. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National  Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped is a young adult reworking of Ibram X. Kendi’s phenomenal bestseller Stamped From the Beginning. Kendi’s original work of non-fiction is utterly stuffed with information vital to students but may be a bit dense for some younger readers. Lucky for us, he teamed up with bestselling young adult author Jason Reynolds to bring students this book, which should be considered essential reading in today’s society. Elementary school teachers might also check out Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Sonja Cherry-Paul.

25. Boys on the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation)

By Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American  Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics

Boys on the Boat chronicles the true story of a men’s crew team from the University of Washington comprised to the sons of working-class families. In the end, the UW rowing team goes on to beat elite East Coast schools and row in the 1936 Olympics.

26. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - non-fiction books

This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read before because the true story of Henrietta Lacks is nearly unbelievable. Rebecca Skloot achieves an amazing feat of journalism with this book. The book is about Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. During a medical exam, Lacks’ cervical cells were collected without her consent and sent to a lab where they became the first line of “immortal” cells grown in culture. While Lacks passed away from cancer, her cells live on today and are known as HeLa cells. They have been instrumental in major medical advances. Yet, while HeLa cells are a multibillion-dollar industry, Lacks’ surviving family members today can’t even afford health care. Skloot explores the concept of bioethics and America’s dark history of medical experimentation on black citizens in this phenomenal book.  

27. Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates

By K. R. Gaddy

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis

This carefully researched story follows three teens alive during Hitler’s Third Reich: Jean, Gertrud, and Fritz. The three teens, and hundreds more like them, formed an underground resistance movement and became known as the Edelweiss Pirates. Compelling and accurate, the story seems to ask teen readers, “What would you do when faced with injustice?”

28. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

By Candace Fleming

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

A non-fiction book that reads like an edge-of-your-seat suspense novel is a rare thing, but author Candance Fleming has accomplished just that with The Family Romanov. The narrative weaves between the doomed Russian Romanov family and the plight of the Russian masses during the era of the Bolshevik revolution.

29. The Movie Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained


The Movie Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained - non-fiction texts

DK Books is committed to publishing non-fiction books that nurture curiosity, and they have certainly created a book that does just that here. Students who are pop culture aficionados or movie buffs will dive into this compendium that uses infographics to explain classic Hollywood plots from The Godfather to Jaws. Language Arts teachers might want to check out The Literature Book as a companion to this one.

30. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

By Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - non-fiction books

Journalist Mary Roach has made a living researching the more banal parts of human existence (see also non-fiction books Bonk, Gulp, Grunt, and Spook, about human sexuality, the digestive system, war, and the afterlife, respectively). In Stiff, she explores the various ways that science uses human bodies after death. The stories she shares are darkly funny, gross, and honestly compelling. Teen readers will be enthralled.

30 Non-fiction Books Every Classroom Needs