Great Nonfiction Books for Kids Ages 9-14

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Young readers who love to learn about the greats who made an impact on baseball will enjoy reading about the best players in each position from the 1960s to today. Each player has stats, fun facts and a bio. Readers can even draft their own all-star team of their favorite pros, such as David Ortiz, Bo Jackson and Hank Aaron. This is a fantastic way to get your baseball fan into reading.

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An unofficial slogan of the Coast Guard goes, “you have to go out, but you do not have to come back.” This book tells the story of four Coast Guard members who kept this in mind during what seemed to be an impossible mission: saving stranded sailors in a storm with waves over 70 feet high. This gripping tale is sure to engage readers and inspire them as they read about this amazing feat of heroism, determination and will to survive.

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Simon Winchester’s passion for weather-watching led him to document some of the worst weather conditions known to man. He introduces the basics about storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes, teaching young readers why, how and where these weather events occur. Children in fifth and sixth grade will be in for a treat as they analyze detailed photographs of massive storms and learn to appreciate the history of weather systems.

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“Hidden Figures” shares an empowering message about what it takes to make a difference in the world. In this No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, we follow the true story of four young black women (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden) who made their mark on history during the era of Jim Crow segregation. These women were “human calculators” recruited by NASA to help with the critical task of making calculations that would one day launch rockets and astronauts into space. This book will teach your fourth- through seventh-graders the importance of unity, diversity and acceptance.

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“Guts & Glory: The Vikings” brings to life adventures and victories that children have never imagined, even in their most vivid playground adventures. Kids ages 10 through 12 will love Ben Thompson’s humorous and clever spin on the heroes, villains and myths that make up Viking history. This is a great option for more reluctant readers as it has plenty of action and a quick pace, and presents information in a way that’s easy to take in.

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This story will appeal to young readers who love history, action, adventure and dogs! Two best friends embark on an adventure of a lifetime, telling a story that includes plenty of research, expedition records and letters that span the pair’s exploration of the North and South Poles. Along the way, third and fourth graders will learn the history (and mystery) of the Arctic and Antarctica. As children imagine themselves in Byrd and Igloo’s shoes, they’ll feel the snow beneath their feet and share in all the discoveries from this thrilling expedition. The journey and photo-documented findings will stimulate their young minds as they come to appreciate the dedication of these two brave explorers.

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Teaching children the importance of discipline can be a challenge, but the young readers’ adaptation of Daniel James Brown’s novel “The Boys in the Boat” can help. In this story, nine young rowers in the midst of the Great Depression (sons of loggers, shipyard workers and farmers) shocked the world by making it to the Olympics to challenge the elite German rowing team put together by Adolf Hitler. The never-before-seen photographs of their stories capture the lives of these young boys and set an example for children. This true story is a great way for children 10 and older to learn lessons of integrity, confidence and endurance, and will encourage them in the pursuit of their goals.

Expert Commentary

“Nonfiction books are an excellent way to introduce students to historical events, science concepts and other resources that may prove useful in their education. The best nonfiction books introduce these concepts in a way that is age-appropriate but also engaging, and may also use a story-focused approach to present the content in a meaningful way.”