Let’s all stay smart and continue to learn throughout the summer months. Here are some amazing books that kids will likely pick up and look through all the way to the back of each book due to the interesting and kid-friendly layout of each book. I’ve categorized these books into three groups: animals, earth and sky.
Let’s begin with animals. Kingfisher Publishers have extraordinary photography and interesting ways to display and portray information that kids seem to just gravitate to and enjoy. If you’ve not purchased, or checked out any of their books, you’re in for a real treat. These types of books make perfect coffee table furniture. Kingfisher Knowledge:  Sharks, by Miranda Smith, is the newest edition to this outstanding series that features “Natural Disasters”, “Mummies” and “Dangerous Creatures”, to name just a few. The photos and illustrations found on every page will surely make all who open the book desire to learn more about these interesting fish. The Explorers Series has a new book, Oceans and Seas by Steven Savage, and brightly illustrated by Peter Bull, that is geared for a slightly younger reader (ages 4 to 8), however all ages would truly enjoy this book. The font is larger so there is less information on each page and the pictures are a nice blend of photos and drawings. Animals Around the World, by Deborah Chancellor, and cleverly illustrated by Anthony Lewis, is another book geared for ages 4 to 8. Both of these books make for a perfect introduction to non-fiction for younger readers. This book has interactive lift-the-flap pages as readers learn about animals in different habitats. Houghton Mifflin has a most interesting book about one of the most important animals on earth as far as our survival is concerned: The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns, and with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. This incredibly well documented and researched book will likely spark some new scientists in your family as you read through to find out why honey bees began to die at huge rates back in 2006.
Scholastic has a variety of outstanding non-fiction books about animals. Here are just a few: Planet Earth Up Close! focuses on 34 unusual animals and the font is larger, as well as the pictures of the animals take up the entire page. There’s an interesting “Did you know?” fact on the picture that will surely draw the reader into this entire book. There are two amazing books just out with a holograph cover featuring 3 different animals as you move the book. Fangs and Poison are both smallish sized books that feature some of the most poisonous and dangerous animals known to man. The font is large and each animal discussed is pictured with its photo on the opposite page. 3-D Thrillers! Sharks and the World’s Scariest Sea Monsters and 3-D Thrillers!  T. Rex and other Dangerous Dinosaurs, are both filled with amazing pictures that seem to jump out at you due to the 3-D glasses provided on the inside cover. “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” series has two new books: Creepy Stuff and World’s Weirdest Critters. Both of these books are perfect for the reluctant reader as the photos alone will draw them into a desire to read about these strange items. Each page is not packed with detailed information which, many times, turns readers off. There’s just enough information to describe the animal along with a multiple choice “Who Am I?” question which will surely draw the reader into reading both books.
Now for informational books about our world. Once again, Kingfisher Publishers have some of the best non-fiction books available. Planet Earth, by Dr. Mike Goldsmith, and illustrated by Nicki Palin, is a simple, yet instructional, look inside our earth. The book is constructed with questions on small flapped pages and answered by lifting each flap. Weather, also by Dr. Goldsmith, and illustrated by John Butler, is constructed in the same manner with flaps that you can turn to find the answers. Planet Earth:  What Planet Are You On?, created by Simon Basher, and written by Dan Gilpin, has to be one of the best non-fiction books on this subject. The information is simplified but not too much, the text is larger and each illustration describes the subject so kids can better understand the concept. This is a series of books by Basher on science matters and all are outstanding. The Kingfisher Atlas of World History: A Pictorial Guide to the World’s People and Events, 10,000 B.

C – Present
, by Simon Adams, covers the major achievements of human civilization over the ages and will surely have your youngsters appreciate that they live in present time. And in this same vein, Peter Kent’s City Across Time:  From the Stone Age to the Distant Future will take the reader through time with a full spread illustration of a village as time progresses to a big city. This book, portrayed in a picture-book fashion, is fascinating. Two books, The Book of Why, and The Book of How, both have 50 simple questions and easy to understand answers that many will find both fascinating and interesting. The complete layout of both books is definitely kid-friendly.
This last book is perhaps one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books about the sky at night. The Sky:  A New Way to See Them – Second Edition, by H. A. Rey, is magnificent in showcasing the constellations during different seasons of the year. This book was first published back in 1952 and continues to be one of the best, if not the best, guides to locating different star patterns.

Holly Evans Newton is an award winning reviewer with over 10 years of experience of searching for the best and most appropriate books for kids. Her 25 years of teaching school and raising 5 children has helped her tap into books that kids want to read. She presents book review programs for elementary schools throughout the country.