February 18, 2016

My #nf10for10 - My Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books from 2015

I joined the 10 for 10 picture book fun last August, so I’m back to give the 10 for 10 nonfiction books a try.  Many thanks to the wonderful hosts: Cathy Mere (Reflect and Refine), Mandy Robeck (Enjoy and Embrace Learning), and Julie Balen (Write at the Edge).  I’m excited to be joining the nonfiction fun!

I feel many exceptional children books where created last year.  I’d like to highlight my 10 favorite nonfiction picture books from 2015.

1.Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul
This literary nonfiction book depicts all the phases of the water cycle through poetic prose.  From rain to fog and mist to snow, the story is accompanied with beautiful water color illustrations.  This is wonderful book to teach cause and effect, prediction, and repetition.  

2.One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
This literary nonfiction biography tells the true story of Isatou Ceesay.  Her home in Gambia became littered with plastic bags, so she began creating woven purses out of them.  Her innovative way of recycling cleaned up community, created jobs for local women, created revenue for families in need, and transformed her home.  This inspirational tale can be used to teach character traits, cause and effect, and main idea.

3.I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies
This literary nonfiction book is about a girl who dislikes snakes.  However, her family loves them and has them as pets.  One by one, the girl says something she hates about snakes while her family describes why snakes look and act they way that do.  Eventually the girl begins to dislike snakes less and less, and in the end loves them!  Each page is filled with realistic illustrations to accompany the family dialog and snake facts.  This book would be great to teach opinion, perspective, and point of view.  

4.A Rock Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas
This literary nonfiction book highlights the beauty of rocks.  They can glow in the dark, grind food, spark fire, and provide shelters both big and small.  The lyrical rhyming text is illustrated with glowing illustrations.  The definitions in the back of the book provide more insight into the rocks on each page, providing fun facts to build knowledge.  

5.Glow: Animals with Their Own Nigh-Lights by W.H. Beck
This nonfiction book highlights (pun intended) stunning creatures that use bioluminescence to glow in the dark.  Used to hunt, hide, make friends, or escape an enemy, the glow of these creatures are fascinating.  Shown in a black background, each animal’s photograph is detailed and stunning. Some images are scary while others are captivating. The text is simple and poetic, with sidebar facts that provide more details. 

6.Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner
This literary nonfiction book tells the story of one Almendro tree in the rainforest.  It is the source of blooms, birds, insects, and animals.  Messner’s text is poetic in nature with further sidebar information providing more detailed facts.  As the numbers of creatures increase, the reader understands the impact one tree has on multiple lives.  

7.Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Tavares
This literary nonfiction biography tells the story of Pedro Martinez’s rise to greatness.  When Pedro was young, he played ball with his older brother Ramon in the Dominican Republic.  When his brother is drafted, Pedro hopes to follow in his footsteps.  As Pedro joins the major leagues as well, the love of these two brothers remains strong as their careers intertwine.  With beautiful illustrations, this true story can be used to teach character trails and theme.

8.Trapped: A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh
This literary nonfiction book tells the story of a humpback whale trapped in fishermen netting and the rescue to save her.  The touching tale is told through simple, but beautiful prose.  The illustrations are gorgeous paintings with realistic details.  This story is a wonderful way to teach children the important connection between people and animals.

9.Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls
This literary nonfiction biography is about Emmanuel, a young boy with a deformed leg in Ghana.  He never lets his disability hold him back; he hops two miles to school, learns to play soccer, and learns to ride a bike.  Eventually, he rides his bike 400 miles across Ghana to become a national hero and speed the message that a disability is not inability.  Told through lyrical words and bold illustrations, this story can be use to teach theme, main idea, and character traits.

10.Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle

This nonfiction poetry is about a young girl in Cuba who broke the traditional taboo against female drummers.  She showed that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.  Told through poetry, this true story is accompanied with vivid and colorful illustrations.  This book can teach children about theme and character traits.  


  1. Great list! I didn't know the Messner book, so I will have to look for that one.

  2. They're all terrific, and yes, many wonderful ones out recently. I really enjoyed Growing Up Pedro! Thanks!

  3. Lovely to see both of these titles by Miranda Paul. Drum Dream Girl and Emmanuel's Dream both ended up on my list too!

  4. Tree of Wonder will make a great addition for the science unit about tree. Thank you,
    Apples with Many Seeds

  5. Jill,
    Love, love, love your list. When you stop by the Westland Library could you pick up my copies I reserved? LOL

    Seriously, I had to order several of these titles. How did I not know about Kate Messner's new book? Thanks for bringing me up to date on all of the new nonfiction titles. I was excited to see so many fall within the poetry genre as well. I can't wait to check them out.

    How lucky am I that you are always right next door???