Printable Drawing Prompts for Kids

As the year–this strangest of years–comes to a close, I’d like to leave you these printable drawing prompts for kids to enjoy during the holiday break.

I hope your children will enjoy letting their imaginations run loose with these mini drawing prompts. Each rectangle of this three-page printable pack has a few shapes or lines. These are the starting point, and you and your child’s imaginative visions are the next step. Turn these simple shapes into landscapes, silly creatures, or an interesting scene that tells a story.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, drawing before writing is a great way to get ideas flowing, organize thoughts, and enhance the overall writing process. When children draw before writing, they often write better and longer. Thus a drawing prompt can also serve as a fun writing prompt. If you or your child is so inclined, try writing a mini story based on your favorite mini drawing from this drawing prompt series!

I also want to say a huge thank you to my readers, subscribers, and supporters–everyone who has purchased one of my books and everyone who follows this blog. I plan to share many more resources and research in the new year!

Best Nonfiction Books for Elementary Students

Nonfiction for Kids

Six of the Best Nonfiction Book Series for Kids

Children are naturally curious about the world around them, and nonfiction books for elementary students can help them explore and grow their interests. There are so many engaging nonfiction book series for children covering such a wide range of topics, and the benefits of reading nonfiction books for kids are immense. Whether your child is drawn to the true stories of historical figures who have helped shape our world, are curious about how things work, or wonder about dangerous creatures from the deep, there is a nonfiction book to meet their curious ponderings.

Nonfiction Book Series for Kids

Here Are Six of the Best Nonfiction Book Series for Elementary Students

Rosa Parks (Little People, Big Dreams)

Little People, Big Dreams Series

This biographical children’s book series seems to be ever growing in popularity and size. The series introduces children to important and intriguing artists, musicians, scientists, activists, athletes, and more. The clean and colorful illustrations and simple language present even complex topics in ways that are accessible for young children.

Translated into 40 different languages and with 2 million sales and counting, this diverse children’s book series is likely to be a mainstay that children today will grow up remembering. Whether you have an animal lover, young musician or budding fashion designer at home, you’re sure to find a figure your child can learn from and relate to. You can also introduce your child to brave and admirable women and men who have changed the course of history, such as Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi.

The author of this series, Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, hails from Barcelona, Spain (where we live!).

First Big Book of Why (National Geographic Little Kids)

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of …

Curious children and their parents can learn plenty from this hefty hardback nonfiction book series published by National Geographic. These books are packed with intriguing facts brought to life with relatable comparisons, revealing graphics, and striking photos and visualizations.

For the little scientist who incessantly asks “why?” there’s The Little Kids First Big Book of Why, and also The Little Kids First Big Book of How, which explains how ice cream is made, how fast the fastest train is, and much more. As your child develops particular interests, you can seek out one of the books focused on a more narrow theme, such as dinosaurs, oceans, bugs, birds, space, weather, and “things that go.”

The format of these books are wonderful for introducing fact-based nonfiction rather than nonfiction that reads like a narrative. These books are broken up into chapters by categories, allowing you and your child to start with the topic that most interests your child, rather than reading straight through from cover to cover. This is great practice for the type of research your child will do both in school and throughout life—perusing a large volume of information and seeking out the parts that are most relevant or interesting to them.

Fly Guy Presents: Space (Fly Guy Presents, #2)

Fly Guy Presents

This extensive series of short nonfiction books for kids presents bite-sized facts about a whole range of scientific, cultural, and historical topics. Topics include insects, weather, castles, monster trucks, the White House, firefighters, and garbage and recycling, and more.

Author Tedd Arnold opens each book with Fly Guy, a fly, and human boy, Buzz, who go on adventures together to learn new things. Buzz and Fly Guy are most visible at the start and end of the books. The majority of the book reads like a nonfiction list of fun facts, the kinds of things that make you say, “Wow!”

The images are a mixture of illustrations of Fly Guy and Buzz with photographs of the subject being explored. Some of the pages look like a scrapbook of their adventure.

Reptiles (Scholastic True or False)

Scholastic: True or False

Scholastic’s True or False book series are short nonfiction books for elementary school children. According to Scholastic, these books are ideal for second and third graders. Each book presents 22 statements made about a topic, and then explores the truth or falsehood of each statement. For example, in True or False: Planets, on page reads, “The earth’s surface is mostly land.” Turn the page, to find out whether this is true or false and read a brief explanation of why. This format allows children to consider the statement presented and make their own guess before turning the page.

The books also often feature real-life photos of the subject at hand. The series generally explores scientific topics, including a wide range of animals as well as storms, planets, rocks and minerals, and more.

Up Goes the Skyscraper!

Gail Gibbons Books

Gail Gibbons is an American author and illustrator with quite an extensive list of nonfiction children’s books published through a handful of different publishers. Her books are filled with her own colorful illustrations (not photographs) and vivid explanations of various concepts.

In addition to the beautiful illustrations and explanations, one of the wonderful things about Gail Gibbons selections is the original subjects explored. In Up Goes the Skyscraper, children can watch a skyscraper being built to learn how these behemoth structures come to be. We can learn about various animals, knights in shining armor, the “deep dark sea,” how the post office works, and weather forecasting. In her books about hurricanes and tornadoes, she explains what they are, how they form, and even tips for how to stay safe in these intense storms. These would be great for explaining these weather phenomena to children who live in areas affected by these events.

As explained on her Amazon author page, Gibbons’ books “are particularly accurate because she goes right to the source when researching a topic,” including visiting the 17th floor of a skyscraper being built.

Lion vs. Tiger (Who Would Win?)

Who Would Win?

This is another nonfiction children’s book series from Scholastic, and it takes on a creative format pitting real animals against one another to see who would win in an altercation. In Who Would Win? books, first we get to learn about the animals with several facts and illustrations of different parts of the animals being introduced. Then author Jerry Pallotta narrates a fight between the two animals. The deadly battle is described and illustrated. It is not overly gruesome, but it is a fight to the death, so be prepared!

This series exposes children to some advanced vocabulary and doesn’t shy away from animals’ scientific names, which is great for eager learners. Children can learn how large different animals are, how the animals are classified and related to other animals, how they move, and how they attack and defend themselves.

Nonfiction for Kids: Why Kids Need (and Love) Nonfiction Books Too

Why Read Nonfiction Books with Kids

There’s something magical about cuddling up with a good story book, entering an imaginary world and taking a journey with a vibrant character. However, nonfiction books for kids can also bring about memorable conversations and can reveal some of the magic in our own world.

With nonfiction we are invited to marvel at the massive size of prehistoric creatures that once roamed our planet, admire colorful life beneath our world’s oceans, learn how an inventor came up with an interesting new product like the slinky, or uncover stories about the courageous acts of women and men who have changed the course of history.

Do kids read enough nonfiction?

Back in 2000 an education researcher in the United States discovered that first grade classrooms across the country spent about 3.6 minutes per day with nonfiction text, and about 10% of classroom books were “informational.” The researcher, Nell Duke, felt this was insufficient, and according to Global Reading Network, her call for more nonfiction in early grades was heard.

The Common Core State Standards, which most states adhere to, calls for an even split between nonfiction and fiction text in classroom reading. I will personally have to admit that the bookshelves in my children’s bedrooms do not reflect this split at the moment.

While the United States has made strides in providing and encouraging nonfiction reading for young children, Room to Read, an organization dedicated to “filling gaps in global education,” has noted that in many countries where they work, nonfiction still lags behind fiction text in schools. In fact, nonfiction makes up just 7 percent of text available to students in first through third grades in the schools Room to Read observed. (You can visit their website and support their mission here.)

Tips for Reading Nonfiction Books with Kids

Why We Should Read Nonfiction Books with Kids

Fiction books are fun, engaging, often come with beautiful illustrations, and have been shown to help develop empathy while helping encourage a love of reading. So why the big push for nonfiction? And should we stick more with fiction for reluctant readers?

For those who haven’t trodden very far into the world of children’s nonfiction, perhaps we just need to reframe what nonfiction is and think about how children can relate to it. First, as James Clements wrote for the Oxford Owl blog, “non-fiction is far more than simply an absence of fiction.” Nonfiction “is a vital part of children’s reading experience” and provides an avenue for children to “follow their interests.”

The incessant “why’s” of a three-year-old, the questions about how the car works, the mischievous fingers that push all the buttons on the washing machine are all signs of curiosity about how the world works. This curiosity is inherent, and nonfiction books for kids are a great way to help children process some of the world around them and further develop their own interests.

Nonfiction books for kids teach children about their world.

Nonfiction books can teach children about how things work, how things are made, how people live in different parts of the world. When a child learns about a real-world inventor, they may be inspired to invent something of their own. When they learn about other cultures or where things come from, their world view broadens and they may be more understanding of other people or of their impact on the environment.

Nonfiction reading augments children’s vocabulary.

Fiction can certainly grow a child’s vocabulary, but nonfiction can open up a whole new type of vocabulary not generally seen in fiction stories. The language patterns used in some nonfiction also serve as a great example for children as they begin to write themselves. Much of the writing they will do throughout their lives will be nonfiction, and so exposure to nonfiction sentence structures and well-organized information can help them as they develop their own writing skills.

Nonfiction teaches us another very important way to read and gather information.

When we read fiction, we start at the beginning of the book and read through to the end. We never read chapter 5 before reading chapter 1. In nonfiction, we might peruse the chapter titles and start with the one we’re most interested in. We might read only part of a book and then move on to another book that answers our question. When we look at National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean, we can flip through and look at the pictures. Then we can decide whether we are more interested in reading about dolphins or angler fish today. This is great practice for doing research, which we do throughout life—whether for work or for our personal lives. Whether searching for a particular type of recipe or looking for parenting advice, we as parents and caregivers regularly search for information online. We scan titles and subheads to decide whether a particular article or post is worth digging into, whether it has the information we seek.

Nonfiction can lure in the reluctant reader.

We may think of nonfiction as dry. We may be trying to find the silliest most entertaining books for our reluctant readers, but sometimes (not always) nonfiction may entice them. A child who struggles to read may be inspired to learn things about their own world—things that are real. Also, they may actually feel more at ease with an informational book they can flip through, perusing a page here or there, than a story they must read straight through relying on their understanding of page one when they’re on page three. For the truly reluctant reader, perhaps the seemingly most bland reading of all will be good practice—a recipe in a cookbook, instructions on how to do an experiment. Reading lists and phrases is still reading and can get a struggling reader to practice reading without really focusing on the daunting task of “reading.”

5 Tips for Reading Nonfiction with Kids

If you’re introducing nonfiction books to your child, or if they’re bringing them to you to read, here are a few tips to make the experience fun and engaging for you and your child:

Let your child take the lead.

If you visit a library or bookstore, introduce your child to the nonfiction section, and let them peruse the books there. Let them see which topics suit them, which images jump out and make them curious. Also, when you sit down to dive into a nonfiction book, let your child drive the reading, page-turning, and conversation. You will quickly learn where their interests lie and can help navigate them to more nonfiction books, articles, magazines and more on the subjects of their interest.

Try out different nonfiction formats and subjects.

Let your child start with a subject of interest to them, but don’t be afraid to explore more. You can try some nonfiction books that compare and contrast such as the Who Would Win series. You can try some of the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books that lay out some interesting facts, illustrations, and maps. Also, don’t forget biographies. Introduce your children to some historical figures. It never crossed my mind to think my daughter is interested in history, but she is fascinated by some of the Little People Big Dreams books.

Dive into a particular topic. Become and expert.

If you find a topic that piques your child’s interest, don’t stop at one book. Browse online for additional facts. Look for a YouTube video on the same topic. Look for several books that explore the topic in different ways. We’ve watched YouTube videos that illustrate how a steam engine works and show us the fastest trains in the world and how they work. We’ve also read books about trains and how they’ve changed over the years. If your child finds a passion, help them become an expert!

Have a conversation.

As you read nonfiction with your child, have a conversation. Let them ask questions. Tell them what new fact surprised you. Try to relate what you are reading to things you and your child have experienced. When you’re reading a historical biography, you can tell your child about when it happened in relation to your own family tree. Maybe it’s something that happened when your grandmother was alive. Maybe there’s a family story to share alongside a historical event. You might also try reading a picture book biography of an artist or architect whose work you have seen in a museum.

Don’t replace the bedtime story.

We read every night before bed in our house. It’s a nice way to end the day calmly together and to make reading part of our daily life. I enjoy using this time to get into a good story. Depending on the topic though, sometimes our nonfiction reading is better suited for a different time of day when we are more energetic and have time to go down a rabbit hole of new information. We might read about a sea creature and then look for a video of it to see how it moves through the water. Then we might talk about how Grandpa saw a hammerhead shark on a fishing trip or reminisce about a trip to the aquarium. We may not always have the time (and we parents/caregivers may not always have the energy and patience) for these idea excursions at bedtime. Also, some of our nonfiction may invite images that are not bedtime-friendly. My son took an interest in the Titanic, which was great; but it wasn’t necessarily the story I wanted to send him off to dreamland with. Try out some nonfiction, but keep your bedtime story rituals.

Raising Readers: How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

If you’re wondering how to get your child to love reading so that they develop a lifelong reading passion and habit, here are a few suggestions. Of course, we all know the benefits of reading are plentiful, but that’s certainly not enough to make our children want to read. Instead, we need to build it into our daily lives and make it an enjoyable experience.

Read every day.

Read every day—without fail. Without positioning reading as a chore, make reading part of your daily routine. Make it as automatic as brushing your teeth, so that even on busy days with unexpected interruptions, you still take some quiet time to read for a few minutes. Also build in extra reading time occasionally to make it even more special and fun. For example, you could have a picnic, and read outside on a sunny day.

Create a reading ritual.

In addition to making reading part of your daily routine, you can also create some special rituals or traditions around reading. You might have a special cozy place where you and your child read together, or you might build books into some of your holiday traditions. Reading a holiday-themed book the night before a special holiday or giving your child a new book each year on their birthday can be a way to make books special and build positive vibes around reading that can last a lifetime.

Let your child choose the books.

Help your child find books that meet their interests and their reading/listening level. Indulge them when they want to reread the same book 100 times. This can be both comforting as well as educational for your child. Young children especially may need to read the same story a few times to really grasp the story and to add new words to their vocabulary.

Make reading fun.

In addition to creating reading rituals and traditions and letting your child choose books that interest them, be sure to make the experience fun! Take the time to really enjoy the books and get into the stories you read with your child. Read with expression. Make funny character voices. Laugh out loud when something funny happens.

Use story time as connection time.

Don’t just plow through a story, shut the book, and move on. Take a moment to discuss what you are reading. This can be a great chance for bonding or for better understanding your child. You can discuss the characters, what they are feeling and doing and how you relate or don’t relate to the story. Share a memory, and ask your child what he or she would do in a particular character’s shoes and what he or she thinks a character will do next. This is also a great way to build empathy.  

Give books as gifts.

Give your child a book at holidays or their birthday so they view books as something special and enjoyable. Also, let your child pick out books for others. If you’re purchasing a gift for a child’s friend, try asking your child if there is a book their think their friend would like.

First Grade Writing Prompts

Writing prompts for kids

I put together a fun list of first grade writing prompts to get kids writing and enjoying it. Writing, of course, is essential in education and throughout life; but it can also be a fun way to express creativity or to practice mindfulness. Writing can help us reflect, get to know ourselves a little better, and express our emotions.

I put together this list of writing prompts for kids with all of that in mind. Many of these writing prompts for kids invite children to write about themselves. Some invite them to write about how they feel. Others prompt them to use their creativity and imagine a fun scenario or story. These can be long or short writings.

When I used these with my own children, I wrote them out in one of those notebooks that has the pages split in half—half for drawing and the bottom half lined for writing. I usually let them choose whether to draw with what they write. Sometimes they did, and sometimes they didn’t. However, drawing before writing has been shown to greatly benefit the writing process, and often the result is that children end up writing more than they otherwise would have.

Writing Prompts for First Grade

About Me

My favorite food is

My favorite toy is __________ because

The best day of the week is __________ because

The best season is ____________ because

When I grow up

My favorite book is _______________ because

On my birthday I

My favorite holiday is _______________ because

Feelings and Mindfulness

I am thankful for

The best part of my day is

The worst part of the day is

I am a good friend because

Something that makes me nervous is

Something that makes me happy is

I am good at

Today I am feeling

Creative Writing

If I had a pet parrot

When I go to the beach

If I had $1,000

If I could be an animal, I would be a ___________ because

If it snowed today

If I could go anywhere, I would go

On rainy days, I