Non-Fiction Picture Books for ELA Classes

Picture Books and Common Core

A significant component of the many state standards is the reading non-fiction informational texts across the curriculum.  Here are ideas to get you started incorporating non-fiction to support and expand your lessons in English Language Arts.  Use these books to help establish context for both fiction and non-fiction readings you plan to assign and study with your students.

Orbis Pictus Award by National Council of Teachers of English for best Non-Fiction Picture Books – See First Place, Honor, and Recommended Titles.

First Place for 2019: A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation Written by Barry Wittenstein and Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Holiday House)

First Place for 2018: GRAND CANYON  by Jason Chin

First Place for 2017:  Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

First Place for 2016: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

First Place for 2015The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade)

First Place for 2014:  A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Alfred A. Knopf)

First Place for 2013: Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert illustrated by Gérard DuBois (Roaring Brook Press)

First Place for 2012 : Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Below are titles from 2011.

First Place 2011:  Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan illustrated by Brian Floca (Roaring Brook Press)

Honor Books for 2011

  • Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner (Calkins Creek)
  • Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael O. Tunnell (Charlesbridge)
  • If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Mark Aronson (National Geographic)
  • Journey into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca L. Johnson (Millbrook Press)
  • Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe (Abrams Books for Young Readers).

Recommended Books for 2011

  • Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown & Company)
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic Press)
  • For Good Measure by Ken Robbins (Roaring Brook Press)
  • Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press)
  • Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Polar Bears by Mark Newman (Henry Holt and Company)
  • They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Houghton Mifflin).

Best in Children’s Nonfiction, The: Reading, Writing, & Teaching Orbis Pictus Award Books. See Paperback (Nov. 2001) by Myra Zarnowski, Richard M. Kerper, and Julie M. Jensen

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