reading skills, toddler, nonfiction, baby books

Nonfiction Books – Just the Facts But Not Just for Older Kids

Add Some True Stories & Fun Facts to Family Reading Time

Reading together is a part of many families’ day. At bedtime, before naps, during wake-up… books help create calm, connected routines. Books also give us great chances to help little ones learn. A lot of the time, our choices may involve silly characters or made-up stories. Those fiction books are delightful and fun for sure, but they aren’t the only option!

Breaking away from fanciful tales with nonfiction books lets you share your interests with your child – and nurture their curiosities. From amazing animals to interesting places and people, books that focus on facts help children build interests. Your child will enjoy seeing real photos. They also love to listen to your excitement as you describe details. Reading nonfiction books with your child helps build their reading skills. It also increases vocabulary and shows that they can enjoy all types of books.

You can add true stories and facts to reading at any age!
Check out our age-based guide for using nonfiction to help your child learn at any age.

Babies & Board Books

For infants, choose sturdy board books with real photos. Use the photos to describe in detail the shapes, colors and names of what you see. Your baby enjoys being close to you and the rhythm of your voice as you read together. Creating time for books gives you a special way to soothe your baby when you both need a quick, quiet escape. It’s a practice you can use at doctor’s visits, on longer car or bus rides, or when anyone needs a calm moment.

Keep It Real with Toddlers

As your baby becomes a toddler, choose books with colorful photos and captions. Colorful photos and short captions build your toddler’s word skills as they begin to label the things they see around them. Books with real photos also help your toddler understand that their world is filled with many things they have never seen. They  show you that they are learning by asking you a lot of questions and point out interesting details they see.

Valuable book skills develop quickly with little ones. They include:

  • Using the cover photo to understand what the book is about
  • Reading the book to you using the photos
  • Turning pages to gather more information

But the skills don’t stop there. Nonfiction books encourage children to ask questions and talk with you. Reading the book over and over (and over and over and over…) gives your little reader the chance to notice something new. Repeating also develops language skills.

Prompt Preschoolers to Explore Their World

Nonfiction books give your preschooler information. In turn, that information guides real-world experiences. As you read books about animals, for example, your child hears you use words to describe color, size and shape. They also hear the similarities and differences you talk about. Using photos helps preschoolers get that a topic exists in real life. Unlike illustrations, those real pictures show them that what they see can be found in the world around them. Then, they can use all of that when they are out and about exploring the world.

Help your preschooler develop before, during and after reading skills:

  • Before reading: Use the cover of the book to guess what the book will be about.
  • During reading: Use the captions and photos to learn new information. Compare and contrast, and talk about what you see in the picture. While reading with your child, use “I wonder…” statements. These statements lead to asking questions during reading — a skill little book fans will use in school. They will also use it when they begin to read on their own.
  • After reading: Use your “I wonder” statements to guide your next book choice. For example, “I wonder if all bears are as large as polar bears.” Or “I wonder if all bears hibernate.” Most likely, your child’s next pick will be a book about bears. The habit of saying “I wonder…” opens the door to questions and curiosity. That helps kids learn a skill they can use as they experience the world.
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