13 Series To Introduce Toddlers & Preschoolers to Nonfiction

Young children are in a constant state of growth and acceleration. Here are some stellar picks to accompany them on their learning journey.

Spring is in the air as trees begin to bud, flowers push up through thawed earth, and baby animals explore the world around them in earnest. In early learning land, however, it is always springtime; young children are in a constant state of growth and acceleration. Neurons are buzzing away, creating connections each time a child settles into a comfortable spot (a lap, a chair, the floor, their bed) with a book. Nonfiction series for little ones continue to expand and grow as well. This season covers a host of topics from fables, holidays, and transportation, and all deepen social emotional learning skills.


Behrens, Janice. Can You Make a Happy Face? ISBN 9780531228890.

––––. Can You Turn the Page? illus. by Marybeth Butler. ISBN 9780531228913.

Chanko, Pamela. Wash, Wash, Wash! illus. by Alicia Padrón. ISBN 9780531228937.

––––. Wave Hello, Wave Bye-Bye. ISBN 9780531228906.

Falk, Laine. I See Animal Colors. ISBN 9780531228920.

Miller, Amanda. I Love Dinosaurs. ISBN 9780531228883.

––––. I Love Trucks. ISBN 9780531228876.

ea vol: 12p. (Rookie Toddler). photos. Children’s Pr. Feb. 2018. Board. $6.95.

Toddler –True to the audience it was created for, this series bounces from topic to topic, ranging from emotions (Can You Make a Happy Face?) to colors (I See Animal Colors) and personal hygiene (Wash, Wash, Wash!). With a condensed page size and number, each book presents information in an easy, breezy manner. Tots will happily sing along while washing their hands—the text is set to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”—and giggle as they follow directions given by some hungry animals in Can You Turn the Page? While most titles feature color photos, two include childlike illustrations as well (Can You Turn the Page? and Wash, Wash, Wash!). VERDICT Perfectly suited for toddler browsing collections. Stick these in baskets on the floor of the early learning area so they don’t get lost on the shelves.

Brooks, Marigold. We Brush the Horses. ISBN 9781508163381.

Esquivel, Rosaura. We Take Care of the ­Chickens. ISBN 9781508163350.

Merrick, Gabriel. We Pick Apples. ISBN 9781508163374.

Woods, Sadie. We Take Care of the Pigs. ISBN 9781508163343.

ea vol: illus. by Aurora Aguilera. 24p. (I Live on a Farm). index. PowerKids. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $23.60.

Toddler –A sweet and simple illustrated series that shows some of the chores and animals one might encounter on a farm. Each book features a different family and portrays the relationships with warmth. We Pick Apples centers on a girl and her father and details their day picking apples to sell at the local farmers market. We Take Care of the Pigs is notable for its depiction of a younger and older sister who happily work together. The text is simply written, and located at either the top or bottom of the page. The series also works as a quick introduction to basic livestock care. Three “Words To Know” are found at the end of each book. VERDICT Consider for areas where farms are a rarity for children or as a primer before a visit.

Donner, Erica. Fire Station. ISBN 9781 620319253.

––––. Library. ISBN 9781620319277.

––––. Park. ISBN 9781620319291.

––––. Police Station. ISBN 9781620319314.

––––. Post Office. ISBN 9781620319338.

––––. School. ISBN 9781620319352.

ea vol: 16p. (Around Town). index. photos. Jump!/Tadpole. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $24.21.

Toddler-PreS –This series offers the most basic of introductions to helpful places within a community. Colorful photographs featuring children and adults of various ethnicities show some of the different community helpers young children should know. Each spread features a strong visual clue on the left, followed by a simple statement or fact on the right side. Oversize white text is placed on top of photographs, in colored text boxes. Each title starts with suggested before-and-after activities to engage readers beyond the text. VERDICT Practical looks at standard community gathering spots that will serve most early learning classroom settings well.

Harris, Beatrice. We Love Circles! ISBN 9781538209875.

––––. We Love Diamonds! ISBN 9781 538209912.

––––. We Love Ovals! ISBN 9781538209950.

––––. We Love Rectangles! ISBN 9781 538209998.

––––. We Love Squares! ISBN 9781 538210031.

––––. We Love Triangles! ISBN 9781 538210079.

ea vol: 24p. (Our Favorite Shapes). photos. Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $22.60.

Toddler-PreS –A casual look at different shapes using short sentences and crisp photographs. In We Love Ovals!, objects include a watermelon, a tub, a stone, a mirror, and an egg, while We Love Triangles! offers a more unexpected approach with a piece of cake, a hot-air balloon, chips, and a ruler. Throughout the series, sentence structure follows a similar format: “The window is an oval,” “The house is a triangle.” In each title, a turn of the page displays a photograph of the object mentioned. Each book ends with a page of mixed shapes and the sentence “point to the…” (naming whichever shape is being featured in that title). VERDICT A fun way to introduce shapes to tots before going on a scavenger hunt in the library, classroom, or home to find other examples. A strong purchase for early learning collections in public libraries and classroom settings.

Hoena, Blake. The Ant and the Grasshopper. illus. by Lisk Feng. ISBN 9781684101412.

––––. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. illus. by Flavia Sorrentino. ISBN 9781684101221.

––––. The Fox and the Grapes. illus. by Beth Hughes. ISBN 9781684101184.

––––. The Lion and the Mouse. illus. by Jen Khatun. ISBN 9781684101429.

––––. The Milkmaid and Her Pail. illus. by Isabel Munoz. ISBN 9781684101238.

––––. The Tortoise and the Hare. illus. by Tim Palin. ISBN 9781684101344.

ea vol: 24p. (Classic Fables in Rhythm and Rhyme). further reading. glossary. w/CD. Cantata Learning. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $33.99.

K-Gr 3 –A focused look at morality and emotional growth through retellings of Aesop’s fables. Each title begins with the same brief introduction to Aesop and his tales. A quick synopsis of the fable then follows, instructing readers to “look for the lesson” in the text. Each title is illustrated by a different artist and varies widely in style. In the Milkmaid and Her Pail, the young protagonist has brown skin; otherwise, most of the human characters in the other books are white. Each text is set to a musical score (located in the back, along with a link to download the music). Guided reading activities round out each title. VERDICT A new way to introduce old friends to young readers, along with the morals that end each story. Consider for schools and larger public library settings.

Hoena, Blake A. The Doctor’s Office: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508277.

––––. The Farm: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508284.

––––. The Fire Station: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508291.

––––. The Library: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508307.

––––. The Zoo: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508321.

Murphy, Patricia J. The Police Station: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543508314.

ea vol: 24p. (A Visit to...). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $26.65.

PreS-Gr 2 –Designed to meet national social studies standards for early learners, this newly revised series (now compatible with an app) explores the different places within a community where people might go for goods or services. Each title introduces subject-specific vocabulary and uses repetition of certain phrases and words to help prereaders gain comfort with the material. The series is filled with factual, to-the-point information and keeps things generic enough to work in a variety of community settings. The Library doesn’t mention programming as an essential service of libraries, and the majority of photographs in The Police Station are of white police officers; negative associations with cops are not mentioned. VERDICT Consider for replacing older editions of similar materials in larger public libraries.

Johnson, Kristin. Enough to Go Around: A Story of Generosity. illus. by Hannah Wood. ISBN 9781512486483.

––––. In It Together: A Story of Fairness. illus. by Mike Byrne. ISBN 9781512486490.

––––. In Your Shoes: A Story of Empathy. illus. by Mike Byrne. ISBN 9781512486476.

––––. We All Have Value: A Story of ­Respect. illus. by Mike Byrne. ISBN 9781512486506.

Schuh, Mari. Bundle of Nerves: A Story of Courage. illus. by Natalia Moore. ISBN 9781512486452.

––––. Yes I Can!: A Story of Grit. illus. by Mike Byrne. ISBN 9781512486469.

ea vol: 24p. (Cloverleaf: Stories with Character). further reading. glossary. index. websites. Lerner. Mar. 2018. lib. ed. $25.32.

PreS-Gr 2 –Sometimes the text in emotional learning titles is dry and didactic. However, this series rises to the challenge, and presents small vignettes that focus on basic social emotional strengths and characteristics. In Enough To Go Around, for example, a young boy starts a food drive at his school after he worries that one of his friends might not get enough food to eat at home. In Yes I Can!, a determined girl works on staying focused on her science project as her friends and family offer distractions along the way. Each title has a clear beginning, middle, and end to the story and leaves readers feeling positive about the choices they can make. The illustrations throughout the volumes are bright and colorful, showing a number of classroom and family life settings while depicting children with different skin tones. VERDICT Using real-life examples and scenarios to teach social emotional skills to young children, this series is a good choice for both classroom and library settings across the board.

MacDumont, Sean. Bikes Go! ISBN 9781538210116.

––––. Boats Go! ISBN 9781538210154.

––––. Trucks Go! ISBN 9781538210307.

Williams, John Matthew. Cars Go! ISBN 9781538210185.

––––. Planes Go! ISBN 9781538210239.

––––. Trains Go! ISBN 9781538210277.

ea vol: 24p. (Ways to Go!). index. photos. Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $22.60.

PreS-Gr 1 –Filled with stock photographs in full color and basic text, this series introduces some of the ways that people move around the world, from bicycles to trains to boats. Short sentences displayed on stark white backgrounds in a large font make it simpler for beginning readers to visualize the text along with pictorial context clues on the next page. The use of stock photos gives the series an overall generic feeling. A same-sex family is featured in Bikes Go! while female pilots and truck drivers are included in Trucks Go! and Planes Go! VERDICT A useful series to consider when updating a transportation-themed section.

Murray, Julie. Birthday. ISBN 9781 532103902.

––––. Day of the Dead. ISBN 9781532103919.

––––. Diwali. ISBN 9781532103926.

––––. Easter. ISBN 9781532103933.

––––. Ramadan. ISBN 9781532103940.

––––. Valentine’s Day. ISBN 9781532103957.

ea vol: 24p. (Holidays). glossary. index. photos. website. ABDO. Dec. 2017. lib. ed. $27.07.

PreS-Gr 1 –A brief look at both religious and secular holidays. Bright white backgrounds with a succinct sentence on the left of each spread is illustrated with full color photographs that bleed over from the right page. Included at the end of each title is a code to use online to access crafts, games, and videos related to each holiday. VERDICT A useful introductory series to circulate in public library early learning collections and in preschool settings.

Owings, Lisa. Hearing. ISBN 9781626177680.

––––. Seeing. ISBN 9781626177697.

––––. Smelling. ISBN 9781626177703.

––––. Tasting. ISBN 9781626177710.

––––. Touching. ISBN 9781626177727.

ea vol: 24p. (The Five Senses). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bellwether. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $25.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –Geared toward the higher end of early learning, this series combines more complex text with standards based content. With longer, more literary sentences and fewer visual clues than often found in similar sets on this topic, this set aims to introduce not only the five senses but some of the science behind them. In Touching, readers are introduced to the concept of receptors, including mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, and thermoreceptors. In Seeing, vocabulary words such as cones, rods, retina, and iris are introduced. Full color photographs are displayed against vividly colored backgrounds, making the vibe of the series a bit busy. Elementary-age children of different ethnicities are represented, along with adults. VERDICT Most useful in school library collections and large library system collections.

Pettiford, Rebecca. Being Grateful. ISBN 9781620318768.

––––. Being Honest. ISBN 9781620318782.

––––. Being Responsible. ISBN 9781620318805.

––––. Resisting Bullying. ISBN 9781 620318829.

––––. Showing Generosity. ISBN 9781 620318843.

––––. Showing Kindness. ISBN 9781 620318867.

––––. Showing Perseverance. ISBN 9781 620318881.

ea vol: 24p. (Building Character). glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!/Bullfrog. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $25.65.

PreS-Gr 2 –Social emotional learning is a broad topic to introduce, yet this series does so succinctly. The information presented is plain and straightforward, defining what it means to be kind or generous, how to show responsibility or honesty, and how to handle a bully and persevere. The notion that life can be hard, or that someone can be mean, might be difficult for younger child to comprehend, but the short examples given, such as finishing a race even when it appears that you won’t win, offer the ability to discuss the texts for meaning. Each title starts with information for caregivers or teachers, and suggests taking a “walk” through the book before reading it, to begin discussion on the topic. Suggested activities are thematically tied to each title, like a gratitude jar or an anti-bullying poster. VERDICT An unpretentious look at emotion and character education suited for classroom and library settings alike.

Reeves, Diane Lindsey. Making Choices at Home. ISBN 9781534107861.

––––. Making Choices at School. ISBN 9781534107854.

––––. Making Choices for My Healthy Body. ISBN 9781534107908.

––––. Making Choices in My Community. ISBN 9781534107885.

––––. Making Choices on My Team. ISBN 9781534107892.

––––. Making Choices with Friends. ISBN 9781534107878.

ea vol: 24p. (21st Century Junior Library: Smart Choices). glossary. index. photos. Cherry Lake. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $28.50.

K-Gr 3 –Focusing on the power of choices, each title offers readers a scenario and a “My Choice!” text box at the bottom of the page that lists two different decisions to make—one positive and one negative. (Will you choose healthy food or sugary food to eat?). The text centers on the power of positivity and making smart choices. Full-page color photographs with a short caption are followed by a long paragraph of text, with colored words defined in a glossary at the back. With close attention to character education, the series reminds kids that “you have choices to make.” VERDICT Consider for collections where teacher and parent requests are frequent for character-building titles.

Schaefer, Lola M. Some Kids Are Blind: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543509960.

––––. Some Kids Are Deaf: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543509977.

––––. Some Kids Use Wheelchairs: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543509984.

––––. Some Kids Wear Leg Braces: A 4D Book. ISBN 9781543509991.

ea vol: 24p. (Understanding Differences). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $26.65.

K-Gr 2 –Focusing on the concept of individual development, this series aims to show youngsters that having different abilities doesn’t mean being limited. Examples show a blind child participating in a karate class independently and a boy using a wheelchair playing a sport. Vocabulary, such as cochlear implant and Braille are used, with simple definitions in a glossary at the back of each book. The series also includes critical thinking questions to launch discussions. Additional content can be unlocked via the Capstone 4D app to make the titles more interactive. VERDICT A wise choice for libraries needing to update their most basic informational books for emergent readers.

Using books as a springboard to broader discussions is a useful tool in early learning situations. The majority of series from this season use standard nonfiction text features and, in some cases, even music to assist caregivers, teachers, and librarians in the sharing of information with groups of children. Young learners will enjoy singing along with Cantata Learning’s “Classic Fables in Rhythm and Rhyme.” Toddlers will certainly delight in the bright colors and interactive text found in Children’s Press’s “Rookie Toddler” series, while primary grade students can explore emotions safely in Lerner’s “Stories with Character” series, and preschoolers will smile as they identify favorite modes of transportation in Gareth Stevens’s “Ways to Go!”

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