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Nonfiction Books for Kids - Reference Books for 4 to 8 Year Olds

Updated on September 11, 2014

Essential Nonfiction for Ages Four to Eight

Stories are fun, but so is nonfiction! This is especially true of reference books designed especially for children four to eight years old. Why? Because youngsters have lots of questions, and children's reference books have lots of answers especially designed for their comprehension level.

While just the term "reference book" may bore some adults, kids tend to be absolutely fascinated with a good children's dictionary or world atlas, or encyclopedia.

My little one had her own reference works at an early age, as did my grandchildren, and believe me, those volumes were used with gusto, and to their great benefit!

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A Beginner's Dictionary - Is an Essential Part of a Young Child's Library

It's important to teach the value of finding real information and authoritative answers to questions at a very early age.

A great first reference book for a pre-school child's own personal library is a beginning dictionary. When they are very young, they'll enjoy looking at the pictures on their own. But they will especially enjoy having mom, dad, or big brother or sister help them find a specific thing,

By the time they are in second or third grade, they will be able to look up words on their own.

Macmillan First Dictionary
Macmillan First Dictionary

This children's dictionary has lots of pictures, large, easy to read text, and a how to guide in the introduction that parents will find useful.

At the very back of the book is some information the child will appreciate when they are a little older, like maps, basic information on the solar system, and US Presidents. So, the child can start with basic vocabulary in the main part of the book, and 'grow into' the back matter.


Should a Young Child Own a Dictionary? - (What do YOU think?)

Do you think a child should have their own dictionary even before they start school?

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Do Kids Really NEED Reference Books

Of Their Very Own?

Kids are naturally curious. They want to know answers to questions that begin with the words HOW and WHY and WHEN and WHO. Non-fiction books for kids answer dozens and dozens of those questions. They tell them about things they want to know about.

Every child should have their own library, and that library should include both fiction AND non-fiction.


Reference Books For Children

A child's nonfiction collection should include basic reference books for children. Here's a good starter list of essential things that should be in a child's personal library:

1 - A dictionary for children

2 - An encyclopedia for kids

3 - A children's thesaurus

4 - A world atlas for kids

Basic Reference Books for Youngsters - That Your Little One Should Own

Basic reference books in a child's own library should include a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, and an atlas. They will get immense enjoyment from the time you spend with them teaching them how the answers to their questions can be found in the pages of their very own books.

What Fascinates Your Child?

Let Their Interests Help Guide Your Choices in Nonfiction

Four year old boys and girls have usually already found at least one special area of interest. One of my grandchildren was crazy about space and astronauts by the age of four. For another, it was the way mechanical things worked, and another could't find out enough about wild animals.

Reading is Fun!

Absorbed in a Book
Absorbed in a Book | Source

Sweet Land of Liberty - Fun U.S. History for Ages 4 to 8

Who says four to eight year old kids are too young for history? With the help of an American Bald Eagle, and a precious elephant named Ellis, Sweet Land of Liberty introduces important events in the history of the United States of America to youngsters.

The illustrations are great, the stories inspiring, and the rhyme is engaging in this book that is perfect for parents to read to pre-schoolers or beginning readers. They will love it!

Whatever peaks a youngster's interest, there's probably some great nonfiction for kids about it, and they are highly likely to get hours of enjoyment from a volume that feeds their hungry little minds.

For example, lots of little girls have a particular fondness for ponies and horses, while many little boys are fascinated with cars, trucks, trains, and anything that 'goes.'


DON'T BE AFRAID to go up an age group or grade level for reading material in your child's special area of interest. My grandson who loved space enjoyed space related nonfiction books for kids 9 to 12 when he was barely 7. If a child is keenly interested in something, and already knows a little about it, they may be ready for the information written for the next age group up.

Science Related Books for Little Ones

Why aren't more older kids and young adults very interested in science? More than a few middle and high school students either avoid or struggle with math and science. Maybe because they weren't exposed to it at an earlier age.

There are certainly science related books on topics that young children can readily relate to.

For example, they see the weather around them every day. It's a part of their world. So books about weather help them understand something that's all around them and expose them to a very elementary level of meteorology.

There are others that help them develop concepts used in math and science. Is the Big Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?" just happens to be one of those.

Personalize Their Books

With Custom Bookplates

For that extra touch, how about a personalized sticker with the child's name on it for the inside front of the book? Find some at your favorite local bookstore.

Special bookplates, with their name on it show that the book belongs to THEM. They'll be proud of their growing personal library!

A Cozy Reading Corner

A great way to encourage a child to spend quiet time reading is to give them a special area all their own, perhaps a cozy reading corner in their room, or in some other room away from the television.

This print is available at Zazzle
This print is available at Zazzle | Source

Ideas for a Special Reading Area

In your child's cozy reading corner, all you need is decent lighting, a place for some of their books, and a place for them to sit or lounge comfortably.

One easy seating option that many children love is a bean bag chair. Then, of course, good lighting and a special shelf just for their own books is the only other essential. A nice additional touch would be a pretty reading poster, like the one shown above.

Here are some ideas for creating a special reading area for young children.

Give your child a comfy and inviting place to lounge that will entice them to spend more quiet time reading their favorite books. Boys and girls alike seem to be very fond of beanbag seating, and if it's a designated reading area, well, you get the idea. . .

Guidecraft Safari Collection Table Lamp
Guidecraft Safari Collection Table Lamp

Good lighthing is essential for reading, but it doesn't have to be boring. This certainly isn't - kids will love it.


Do You Like The Idea of a Reading Nook?

Do you like the idea of a reading nook or cozy reading corner set aside especially for a child to use? Do you think it will encourage them to read and just spend time looking at books?

It might even encourage them to keep their books all in one place and (gasp!) put away!

What do you think of providing a special reading area for a child?

See results

Are you in favor of reference books for young children?

What are your favorites, or your child's favorites?

Do you like the idea of a specially designated and decorated reading area?

Anything else?

The Guestbook Is: OPEN - What do you think?

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    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I had a lot of Reference books for kids when our son was young. He was always asking questions so it was great to have something to refer to.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I think it is really important for parents to always take note that learning does not only have to be effective but it should be fun for both children and parents as well. Thank you for sharing your lens with us, I got good recommendations here.

    • makarenko profile image


      5 years ago

      Awesome! I grew up reading LOTS of books, and that formed my personality for life! :) I think it is a great idea to show children the wonder of discovery through reading - thank you for building such a helpful lens!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      It's a great idea! They need to learn how to research and find answers to their questions, or look up topics of interest. Why not spark their interest early.

    • SecondSally profile image


      5 years ago

      Asking questions is great. Knowing how to find answers is a pretty good thing too! Nice lens.

    • InternetMarkete profile image


      5 years ago

      Awesome lens! As a mother of a 6 and an 8 year old, these will come in handy for sure!

    • irminia profile image


      6 years ago

      I do have a favorite childrens author, writing great stories about friendship (can we count that as nonfiction ;))): Sven Nordquist. He does both writing and drawing and the result is fantastic.

    • traveller27 profile image


      6 years ago

      Back for another look - very nice selection.

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @piedromolinero: That's fantastic!

    • piedromolinero profile image


      6 years ago

      My daughter will start school this year, but she learned reading and writing already in kindergarten. She loves to read and reads a lot, both, fiction and nonfiction books and afterwards we talk about it. She has a cozy area in her room, where she likes to sit and read.

    • Rankography profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens with some very interesting thoughts on getting kids interested in reading early. Blessings.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Returning to dust your nonfiction books reference books for kids 4 to 8 for great learning opportunities.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Kids are so curious and love to learn. A good reference book is great to have.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens, well done!

    • victoriuh profile image


      6 years ago

      I never thought of buying my 4 year old a dictionary. Great idea.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 

      6 years ago from Florida

      A dictionary before starting school is a great idea and I think that is great to have their own private reading nook. I loved my own special small places when I was a child.

    • norma-holt profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens with some good ideas. Blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great books and products. Very pretty and very well presented.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great books and products. Very pretty and very well presented.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great books and products. Very pretty and very well presented.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great books and products. Very pretty and very well presented.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      6 years ago

      Lovely selection of non-fiction books for kids. Happy New year :)

    • SquidooPower profile image


      6 years ago

      Anyone else thinking Baby-Kindle might be a good idea?

    • iijuan12 profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      My children love reading non-fiction books! There are so many great ones out there with illustrations that look like a story book but filled with more information than a textbook.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great resource for educational kids books!

    • cal17mom profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a children's librarian and I can vouch for the popularity of non-fiction books for children. I think many well-meaning parents just don't naturally think of choosing them for kids unless they are doing a report for school. I try to highlight non-fiction for kids because there is SO much good stuff out there!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As kid, I used to love the Reference books in the Library section which had big pictures, I am sure kids love these books with details.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      These are great ideas for encouraging reading and learning. When my kids were little, we went to the library every Saturday.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      7 years ago

      I am in favour, but every reference book I've ever given to the kids I babysit has ended up on a shelf collecting dust. They're just not that into them, I'm afraid :S

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 

      7 years ago from USA

      My daughter's favorite reference book for the past 7 years: Guinness Book of World Records/

    • Mamaboo LM profile image

      Mamaboo LM 

      7 years ago

      We homeschool, consequently there are never enough books!!!

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 

      7 years ago

      My son LOVES dinosaurs. He would enjoy a nonfiction dinosaur book. Nice list!

    • AmyTK9 profile image


      7 years ago

      I think reading is very important for both kids and adults. I think nonfiction books are just as important as the fiction books. Thanks for sharing this lens! It is a great one!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yep I think kids should get involved in reading as early as possible

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You've got me thinking of the Childcraft encyclopedia set that my parents purchased for us kids when we were young and we sure did make use of them just for fun and ended up learning along the way. Excellent ideas on nonfiction and reference books for kids 4 to 8 years old.

    • the-good-stuff profile image


      7 years ago

      I used to have a reference book as a child, it explained about planets, continents, nationalities, animals from around the world and many interesting things. I loved it!

    • traveller27 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great idea! I strongly believe in children having books at an early age.


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