Nonfiction Books

Ducks Overboard! a True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans by Markus Motum, 2021

Reading Level 4.0 Grades 2-5

Curiculum:  Science

Subjects:  plastic scrap, plastic toys, waste disposal in the ocean, ecology, environment

Inspired by a real incident, this . . . look at the pollution crisis in our oceans follows one of the ducks as it is washed away on ocean currents, encountering plastic-endangered whales and sea turtles, and passing through the giant floating island of marine debris known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Teacher's Guide
Discussion Questions
National Geographic Follow the Friendly Floatees
Follow the Floatees Follow-up Questions
Teachers Pay Teachers Worksheets ($)
Social Studies Lesson in Geography and World Citizenship
Supplemental Resources and Graphic Organizers
The Story Behind the Story

Similar Books:

Ten Little Rubber Ducks – Eric Carle
No More Plastic – Alma Fullerton
Plastic Ahoy!:  Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Patricia Newman

Awards: Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List

Happy Sloth Day by April Pulley Sayre, 2022

Lex AD750L Grades K-3 

Curriculum:  Science

Subjects:  sloths, nature, mammals

Come meet sloths in the rainforest canopy where these slow, gentle creatures live and see what they eat, how they hide from predators, and much more. Also learn about some of the other creatures that share this interconnected and fragile tropical forest ecosystem. 


International Sloth Day
Teaching Books Resources

Similar books:

The Secret Life of the Sloth – Laurence Pringle
Sloths – Josh Gregory
A Little Book of Sloth – Lucy Cooke
Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth – Eric Carle

Headstrong Hallie: The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, The First Female "Fire Guard" by Aimee Bissonette, 2021

Reading Level 2.9 Grades 1-4

Curriculum:  Science, Social Studies

Subjects:  biography, fire

Hallie Morse Daggett loved spending time outdoors, hiking among the tall trees of the forests in California's Siskiyou Mountains. She wasn't afraid of the bears, coyotes, and wildcats. But Hallie was afraid of fire and understood the threat it posed to the forests, wildlife, and people. And more than anything, she wanted to devote her life to protecting her beloved outdoors; she decided she would work for the US Forest Service. But in the 1880s the Forest Service didn't hire women, thinking they couldn't handle the physical challenges of the work or the isolation. But the Forest Service didn't know Hallie or how determined she could be.

Author's Website with Resources
Educational Activities from Only Picture Books
Forest Service Information on Hallie Morse Daggett
Smithsonian Magazine Article on Hallie Morse Daggett


Crystal Kite Midwest Member Choice Awards
Utah Beehive Award for Children’s Informational Books nominee 2024
WILLA Literary Award winner in Children’s Fiction and Nonfiction from Women Writing the West, 2022

Similar books:

Molly, By Golly – Dianne Ochiltree 

Nacho's Nachos: the Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickel, 2020

Reading Level 4.5 Grades K-5

A picture book biography of Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya, a waiter at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, and the events surrounding the creation, in 1940, of the globally-popular tortilla chip, cheese, and jalapeno pepper snack that bears his name-nachos.

Teacher's Guide
Story Time Activities
Virtual Book Tour
YouTube Video about the Book
Teachers Pay Teachers Activities ($)


Best Children’s Books of the Year 2020, Kirkus Reviews

Bank Steet College of Education Christopher Award

Books for Young Readers Best Books of 2020

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Reading the West Book Award nominee

Similar books:

Fun Food Inventions – Nadia Higgins

Pando: a Living Wonder of Trees by Kate Allen Fox, 2021

Grades PS-2 Lex 900L

Curriculum: Science, Social Studies

Subject:  trees, Aspen

A Utah grove of Aspen trees are connected by their roots to form one of the world's oldest and largest living things.

Live Science- Listen to the Sounds of Pando
Kids for Pando

Teaching Guide by Kate Allen Fox
Book talk by Author


SLJ 2021 Best Book

Playing at the Border: a Story of Yo-Yo Ma by Joanna Ho, 2021

Grades K-3 Reading Level 4.3

Curriculum:  Social Studies, Music

Subject:  biography, cellists, culture, Rio Grande Valley, performances
The story of Yo-Yo Ma, who challenges conventions, expectations, and beliefs in order to build bridges to unite communities, people, and cultures.


Reading is Fundamental Book Activity
Time Magazine Article on event
NPR broadcast about event
Teachers Pay Teachers Resource Kit ($)
Author Interview


Ezra Jack Keats Award  Honor

Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory by Julie Abery, 2021

Grades K-3 Lex AD4806

     Curriculum:  Sports

    Subjects:  Soichi Sakamoto, 1906-1997, swim teams, swimming, Hawaii, biography, swimming coaches, Japanese American children, Olympic games
The  little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme.

Maui News Article
Virtual Book Tour
Teachers Pay Teachers Activities ($)


Outstanding International Books List, USBBY, Joint Winner, 2022

Snooze-o-Rama: the Strange Ways That Animals Sleep by Maria Birmingham, 2021

Curriculum:  Science

Subjects:  sleep behavior, bedtimes

Draws playful comparisons between the ways humans and animals sleep, bringing a new angle of interest to an aspect of children's daily routines that they might otherwise take for granted. Each animal snooze fact is prompted by something that kids do in their own bedtime routine.

Teaching Books Resources
How Do Animals Sleep?
The Sleeping Habits of Different Animals
Book Talk (YouTube)


2022 Silver Birch Express Award Finalist

This Very Tree:  a Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth by Sean Rubin, 2021

Grades 1-4 Reading Level 3.2

Curriculum:  Social Studies

 Subjects:  trees, September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001, memorials-New York, terrorism

In the 1970s, nestled between the newly completed Twin Towers in New York City, a Callery pear tree was planted. Over the years, the tree provided shade for people looking for a place to rest and a home for birds, along with the first blooms of spring.  But on September 11, 2001, everything changed. The tree’s home was destroyed, and it was buried under the rubble. But a month after tragedy struck, a shocking discovery was made at Ground Zero: the tree had survived.


NPR Newscast
Teachers Pay Teachers Activities ($)
9/11 Read-aloud Lesson


Chickadee Award nominee
Chicago Public Library Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts
Bank Street Best Book of the Year
2022 ALA Notable Book
CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People


The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation by Alice B. McGinty, 2021

Are you interested in an author visit with Alice B. McGinty?  She will be visiting Tucson in January 2024.  Please contact her if you are interested.

Grades 1-4 Reading Level 2.8

Curriculum: Social Studies

Subjects:  Darlene Arviso, water supply, deserts, Navajo Indians, Indians of North America-New Mexico, biography, sustainable living

Cody is worried when his family on a New Mexico Navajo reservation runs out of water, but Darlene Arviso, called "The Water Lady," is on the way with her tanker truck. Includes glossary of Navajo terms and notes about Arviso and life on a reservation.

Teaching Guide
Book Review


2022 Illinois Reads selection
SLJ Best Book 0f 2021 selection
2022 ALA Notable book
2022 Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Honor Award