Dinosaurs, Dogs and Dump Trucks: Non-fictio​n for Little Ones

You probably already know that Boone County Public Library has a treasure trove of picture books for your little ones to enjoy, books by Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems and many others designed toDump Trucks Pebble capture the hearts and imagination of Boone County’s littlest users. But BCPL also has many non-fiction titles for our littlest users, books bursting with information about the world around them, from the squiggliest bugs to the stars above and everything in between.

Children from preschool to early elementary age are “insatiable learning machines.” (2) They are inherently curious about the world around them. (1) They want to know!  Introduce them to non-fiction – it feeds this fire.  And as every parent of a youngster knows, one question leads to more questions!

Beyond enjoyment, there are many reasons for you to share non-fiction with your little ones:

  • Different kids have different interests and studies show children do not overwhelmingly prefer stories over non-fiction. (1)   Your child may select non-fiction when given a choice.
  •  If your child is interested in a topic (and much non-fiction is high interest), they are more likely to stick with the title and, as a result have better comprehension and writing performances. (2,4)
  • Non-fiction can also help children struggling to read. (1) If your child is excited about a book, it can motivate him to work through it, all the while growing reading ability and self-confidence.  He may even begin to read beginning readers and chapter books better, too!
  • Studies show boys have a preference for non-fiction and it may help them find something they want to read. (5, 6)
  • Non-fiction helps your child build vocabulary because it contains more varied and technical words. (5) And comprehension is gained by building background knowledge. (8)   This, in turn, can help your child with later schooling and reading.

Here are some tips to help you choose, and use, non-fiction for your preschool or early elementary aged child:

  • Select topics they are curious about that are relevant to their lives and experiences (5,6)
  • Or choose something entirely new.  Maybe it will lead to new interests!
  • Find a book for your child with an inviting cover that includes crisp, colorful photographs or illustrations.   Non-fiction looks MUCH better now than when you were a kid!
  • Letter size and type should be large and simple and the spacing and placement of words should make passages easy to read (7)

Of course, encouraging your youngster to read these titles is good, but don’t forget there are benefits to reading non-fiction aloud to your child, including sharing the knowledge within the titles.  For instance, if you read “A Butterfly is Quiet” by Dianna Aston Long to your child, forever after you and your child will both know about chrysalis’ and may even be able to point them out on a nature hike.

If you do read non-fiction out loud to your little one, here are some steps you may want to follow:

  • Skim through the book quickly before reading.  There may be some pronunciation you want to practice.  Watch out for those dinosaur names!
  • Talk about what you know about the book’s topic before you read.  See what you learn!
  • Be enthusiastic – let your child know you are enjoying the moment, too.
  • Highlight new words and encourage participation.  Many titles for this age are repetitive, in a good way.
  • Paraphrase if needed or re-read fun passages.
  • Talk about what you have learned after reading (1,10,Amazing-Giant-Dinosaurs6)

You can also pair a picture book with non-fiction.  For instance, after reading, ”Amazing Giant Dinosaurs” by Greenwood you could read “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” by Mo Willems or “How do dinosaurs say I’m mad?” by Jane Yolen.

Sharing non-fiction with your preschooler or early elementary aged child can benefit them in many ways – larger vocabulary, enhanced reading comprehension, ready for later schooling – but most importantly, it is fun.  So grab a stack of non-fiction today and dig in!


Cindy Yeager has worked for BCPL for 15 years. For 8 of those years she thoroughly enjoyed being “Miss Cindy,” providing storytimes and programs for kids of all ages at the Florence Branch.  For the past 7 years, she has been having a blast as the Youth Services Collection Development Librarian, choosing books and AV for the kids and teens of Boone County to enjoy.

1 – Duke, N. K. (2003, March). Reading to Learn from the Very Beginning: Information Books in Early Childhood. Young Children 58(2), 14-20.

2 – Lempke, Susan Dove. (2009, October). Early Literacy and Series Nonfiction.  Booklist Online.

3  Caswell, L.,J., & Duke, N.K. (1998). Non-narrative as a catalyst for literacy development. Language Arts, 75, 108–117.

4 – Jimenez and Duke (2011, October). The Reading Teacher, 65(2), 150–158

5 – Pentimonti, J. M., T. A. Zucker, L. M. Justice, and J. N. Kaderavek (2010, May). Informational Text Use in Preschool Read-Alouds.  The Reading Teacher, 63(8), 656-665.

6- Grawemeyer, B.  Early Childhood Building Blocks: Beyond the Story Book: Using Informational Books with Young Children.

7- Stephens, K. (2008, March). A Quick Guide to Selecting Great Informational Books for Young Children.  The Reading Teacher, 61(6), 488-490.

8 -Wixson, K.  Reading Informational Texts in the Early Grades.  Research into Practice. Pearson, Scott, Foresman.

9 – Korbey, H. (2013, July).  How to get kids hooked on nonfiction books this summer.  Mind/Shift.

10 – Yopp, R. H. and H. K. Yopp (2012, April). Young Children’s Limited and Narrow Exposure to Informational Text. The Reading Teacher, 65 (7), 480-490.

Take a Trip on Us!

Are you thinking about taking a trip? It’s not only fun to explore new places, discover unique foods, and experience a different culture, it’s actually enriching for all your senses. Travel is an exciting way to create lasting memories. Need some inspiration? Not sure where to go? We have plenty of books like 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014, and The Backpacker’s Bible. Aside from traditional travel books like Frommer’s and Lonely Planet, we have many other helpful sources.

Don’t speak the language? You can check out an audiobook on a wide variety of languages or use Mango, our online language program. It’s free and there’s even an app for your smart phone. Whether listening to the audiobook or practicing with Mango, you can learn the conversational basics to make travel easier.

Have a long car ride or flight? Check out audiobooks on CD, Playaways (pop in a battery and headphones to hear a pre-loaded book) or use Kentucky Libraries Unbound to download e-books to your tablet or smart phone. You can even download movies or stream them with Wi-Fi. Like magazines? Use our Zinio subscription to read magazines on your device, including National Geographic Traveler to check out new and interesting places to go.

Need help choosing a place or finding lodging? There are tons of travel websites:

  • Trip Advisor and Yelp let you check out ratings for places to eat, stay, or visit. Reviewers add their two cents to help you make better decisions. Should you stop and see the largest ball of string? Is the food really good at that expensive restaurant? Was the bed and breakfast clean? Find out before you go. You can add your thoughts about places you visit.
  • Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Booking.com, and Travelocity are all websites that can help plan your trip if you’re looking for airfare, hotels, and rental cars. They offer package vacations and even travel insurance, in case you need to cancel. It’s nice to check prices on these sites, and then check the individual airline, hotel, or rental car company to see if they are offering a better deal.
  • Flights with Friends is terrific for making travel plans with a group. You can add flights from different locations and let others have their say on the flight and lodging choices that appear for your destination.
  • VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway offer nice options for those who would rather stay in a house, condo or apartment instead of a hotel or resort. They have properties all over the world and can be anything from minimal to extravagant. Choose the time you wish to travel and add filters to specify pet friendly, number of guests or bedrooms, swimming pool, or handicap accessible. Guests who stay can add reviews, so you know right away if there are issues with a property, like odor or a poorly stocked kitchen.
  • Google Maps and MapQuest will help you find your way from here to there, even locally. You can add additional stops, choose the shortest or fastest routes, avoid toll roads, include gas stations or restaurants or even find biking paths, walking distances or bus routes.

Is there an app for that? Most websites have them! Here are some cool apps you might explore on your smart phone or device’s app store:

  • CheckMate takes your preferences to help find you a room in hotel, like one that’s away from the elevator or close to the pool, let them know when you’ll arrive, and some hotels let you check-in without having to stand at the counter.
  • Flashlight is a handy app that is free and can light your way!
  • WhatsApp Messenger lets you text or chat and avoid international charges. If Wi-Fi is available, you can send photos, too.
  • City Guides is a way to create your own guide for a city that includes places to visit or eat and then tracks where you are at any moment in relation to those places. Friends can add their favorite places or use a guide someone else has created.
  • XE Currency lets you know the current exchange rate for money around the world.

Traveling locally? We have a great way to break up a humdrum weekend – take a day trip using one of our Road Trip kits. Stop by and pick up a bag for the city of your choice! Each bag is filled with brochures, maps, guide books, a family DVD for the kids to watch, and games to entertain the whole family. We have kits for Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and more.

While on the road, most libraries will let you have free Internet access. Look at our parking lots on any given day and you’ll see out-of-state license plates. Plenty of people stop by to check email, print maps, and update reservations from our locations. Whether locally or abroad…we can help you have the vacation of your dreams.


Jinny Ussel is the Training and Design Specialist for Boone County Public Library. She loves to travel and in her next life, she’d like to be Samantha Brown.