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50 Easy Readers with a "Wow!" Factor: Exciting Nonfiction for 1st and 2nd Graders

396pxlightning_striking_the_eiffel_Many six and seven year olds want their nonfiction and they want it exciting. Shipwrecks! Escapes! Dinosaurs! Exclamation points! Here is a thriller of a list that caters to that very crowd. It comes from Candace Herbst at the Westport (CT) Public Library; she runs the Book Voyages club for first and second graders. I've added bookstore links (Powell's, Barnes & Noble) so that you can see the books. Plenty of older children will like these titles, too.

Maximum Triceratops, by Robert T. Bakker
Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag, by Sarah L. Thomson
Hungry Plants, by Mary Batten
Actual Size, by Steve Jenkins
Breakout!: Escape from Alcatraz, by Lori Haskins
Tentacles!: Tales of the Giant Squid, by Shirley-Raye Redmond
To the Top!: Climbing the World's Highest Mountain, by Sydelle A. Kramer
Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley, by Kate Boehm Jerome
The True-or-False Book of Dogs, by Patricia Lauber
Ponies, by Pam Pollack
Finding the Titanic, by Robert D. Ballard
Disasters at Sea, by Andrew Donkin
Bats!: Creatures of the Night, by Joyce Milton
On Beyond Bugs, by Tish Rabe
S-S-Snakes, by Lucille Recht Penner
Sea of Ice: The Wreck of the Endurance, by Monica Kulling
Beastly Tales: Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster, by Malcolm Yorke
The Solar System, by Carmen Bredeson
Stars in the Sky, Allan Fowler
The Day the Dinosaurs Died, by Charlotte Lewis Brown
Beyond the Dinosaurs: Monsters of the Air and Sea, by Charlotte Lewis Brown
Dinosaur Days, by Joyce Milton
First Kids, by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
Tut's Mummy Lost...and Found, by Judy Donnelly
Storm Chasers: Tracking Twisters, by Gail Herman
Monster Bugs, by Lucille Recht Penner
Mummies, by Joyce Milton
Big Birds, by Lucille Recht Penner
Where Are the Stars During the Day?, by Melvin Berger
Big Cats, by Joyce Milton
Ice Mummy: The Discovery of at 5,000-Year-Old Man, by Mark Dubowski
Volcanoes: Mountains That Blow Their Tops, by Nicholas Nirgiotis
Dinosaurs Alive! The Dinosaur-Bird Connection, by Dennis R. Shealy
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventure of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman
Whatever the Weather, by Karen Wallace
True-Life Treasure Hunts, by Judy Donnelly
Hungry, Hungry Sharks, by Joanna Cole
Twisters!, by Lucille Recht Renner
Wild, Wild Wolves, by Joyce Milton
The Titanic Lost...and Found, by Judy Donnelly
Amazing Sharks!, by Sarah L. Thomson
On That Day: A Book of Hope, by Andrea Patel
The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft, by Cathy Moore
Quakes!, by Catherine McMorrow
Mummies Unwrapped!, by Kimberly Weinberger
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto, by Natalie Standford
Stars, by Jennifer Dussling
Red Legs: A Drummer Boy of the Civil War, by Ted Lewin
Saving the Liberty Bell, by Megan McDonald
Tiger Trek, by Ted Lewin

(Yes, there are more than fifty. Many thanks to Candace Herbst. Aren't librarians generous?)

This blog post is part of Nonfiction Mondays, in which Anastasia Suen, an author/writing teacher/blogger, rounds up blog entries on nonfiction for children. See Picture Book of the Day for details.

A note on the image: Photograph taken June 3, 1902, at 9.20 p.m., by M. G. Loppé. Published in the Bulletin de la Société Astronomique de France (May, 1905). From Wikimedia Commons.


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I love the "Titanic" titles - I was doing some research for work last week and discovered that Titanic books are just as consistently popular as ever. I thought the fascination might be waning, but that's definitely not the case. At least in Queens.

That image is stunning!

Hey, Laura. Oh, yeah, the Titanic stuff is still really popular here in CT, too. My son read and liked both of the Titanic books on this list.


I'm trying to beef up our nonfiction for beginning readers, so this list is particularly timely for me.

Thanks for a great list! I'm forwarding it right now to The People With The Money Bags!

Adrienne and Mary Lee, I'm so glad this list is helpful; I was happy that it was "lent" to me for the blog. Jr. is past the "newly independent reader" stage, but he just read the 5000 year old mummy book last week and said that it's good. (The pictures kinda grossed me out, so I have not read it yet.)

Great list - thanks for posting it!

De nada!

Wow! This is a great list! I'm going to have to print it out. Thanks!

You're welcome, Vivian. Jr. has read a number of books here and liked them.

Thanks! This is great!

You're quite welcome, Wisteria.

Thanks for this. I've got two kids who like books at this reading level and who are always on the prowl for exciting non-fiction titles. We'll be working our way through it!

You're welcome! My third grader still likes these, too; he's read a bunch of 'em. "Breakout! Escape from Alcatraz" is a particular favorite.

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