Ask A Storytime Ninja: Just the Facts!

Interested in trying a non-fiction storytime? Not sure where to start? Read on for some tips from our great ninjas!





The Question: 

I am planning on doing a story time for 3-K called “Just the Facts, Ma’am” with all of the books being non-fiction, informational books. The write up says “plenty of fun but no fantasy”. I am sure I can come up with 5 appropriate books but I thought perhaps others have gone before and could recommend titles that have proven themselves winners. There is no theme other than non-fiction. Once I decide on the books, I will come up with a craft or other activity that ties in.


The Answers: 


Ellen says: 

What a catchy title for your Nonfiction storytime! In my experience, kids LOVE to see and hear nonfiction in storytime. It took me a long time to become comfortable including NF because I thought kids would be hesitant and lose interest, but in reality they have always loved when I include a “real” book with our regular picture book fare.


There are tons of excellent resources out there; Rookie Readers, Pebble Plus, and Heinemann Read and Learn are some of my favorite nonfiction imprints for storytime use. They all have titles across every dewey range, and I can usually find something to fit into any theme I’m doing. For standalone titles, I love “An Egg is Quiet” by Dianna Hutts Aston, “Actual Size” by Steve Jenkins, and “Fly Guy Presents: Space!” by Tedd Arnold, plus basically every other nonfiction title by these authors. At Halloween I read “Rotten Pumpkin” by David M. Schwartz to my storytimers, who loved the icky pictures and poems that go along with it. I am a big fan of “Where in the Wild” also by David M. Schwartz as a great participation title; kids love trying to find the camoflauged animals!


I think you will easily be able to find many more than 5 titles for your nonfiction storytime. The true challenge will be limiting it to only 5! Good luck and have fun!


Ariel says: 

The series by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long that includes An Egg is Quiet is one of my favorites! Other titles include A Seed is Sleepy and A Rock is Lively. If your crowd is on the younger side, they’re easy to elide by leaving out some of the supplementary text; with older kids you can read all the text and talk about it more. I also really enjoy Jane Brockett’s Clever Concepts books. They’re a really interesting and nuanced take on concepts – I think starting with Spiky, Slimy, Smooth and talking about what textures are, where they’re found in nature, and things like that could lead to some great nature exploration.


Amadee says: 

What a cool idea, and I love your title! I’ve never done a whole nonfiction series with this age group, but do incorporate lots of nonfiction in storytimes. There are tons of great books to use, especially since you’re not limited to a specific subject.

Ariel and Ellen both mentioned some wonderful books, including A Seed is Sleepy and the Clever Concept books. Some other favorites of mine, in roughly Dewey-ish order, are:


I Face the Wind (and I Fall Down, and I Get Wet) /Vicki Cobb
Friends: True Stories of Amazing Animal Friendships /Catherine Thimmesh
Red-Eyed Tree Frog /Joy Cowley
Chameleon, Chameleon /Joy Cowley
What Am I? books /Moira Butterfield (Fierce, Strong, and Snappy; Big, Rough, and Wrinkly, etc.)
Hello, Bumblebee Bat /Darrin Lunde
Elephants Can Paint Too! /Katya Arnold
Wild Ponies (and other One Whole Day books) /Jim Arnosky
Little Trucks with Big Jobs /Robert Maass


The Vicki Cobb titles are fun because they include simple experiments and activities, which make them a great jumping off point for hands-on stations.
If you’re comfortable using parts of books, rather than reading them straight through, consider:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes /Nicola Davies
Actual Size /Steve Jenkins*
What do You do With a Tail Like That? /Steve Jenkins
Frog Song /Brenda Z. Guiberson
Eat Like a Bear /April Pulley Sayre*
If You Decide to Go to the Moon /Faith McNulty


These are all longer or more grownup in various ways, and the ones marked with asterisks have parts that might be scary or upsetting… but they all have amazing bits that I use all the time. If You Decide to Go to the Moon has the best blastoff sequence ever, and talks about how you’d feel pressed back into your seat during liftoff, and how it would feel to move around on the moon’s surface.


Speaking of books that are fun to use in parts, I love including poetry, and Joyce Sidman is wonderful if you’re looking for nature or science poems. Last but not least, you can’t beat Nic Bishop for big, crisp photos of the animal world.




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