Read Nonfiction!

10 Reasons to Choose Nonfiction Books

1. They encourage browsing.

Sometimes you don’t have time to read a whole book. Sometimes you don’t want to, either.

Great readers like to browse. They pick up a nonfiction book and read part of it. They might not finish it but they remember what they read.  How?  They recite: silently to themselves or aloud to friends. They talk about the facts they learned and the ideas they encountered. 

Great readers know that reading is worthless if what you read doesn’t make sense.  And if you only have a few minutes, a novel won’t make sense.  You won’t read enough to get into the story, so why bother? 

Pick up illustrated nonfiction books and browse through them. Learn something!

2. They encourage reading whenever you have a spare moment.

Short nonfiction books are portable. They are easy to carry around in your pack or purse.  They can easily sit on a corner of your desk in school.

Whenever you get a bit of time – while waiting for your classmates to finish cleaning up or while waiting in the car  – you can pick up a book and entertain yourself.  You can build up your store of general knowledge in small tasty doses.

3.  They help focus your mind.

Nonfiction books help you ignore all the thoughts rushing around in your head and focus on what is right in front of you.

They let you explore topics without the distraction of links and advertisements.

In fact, they can encourage you to calmly and deeply explore topics, which will help you calmly think in all sorts of situations.

4. They are easy to use.

Books feel good. It’s easy to hold them. Easy to turn the pages back and forth.

You don’t have to use a scroll bar. You don’t even have to plug them in or recharge their batteries.

They’re durable. You don’t have to worry if you drop them. They won’t break.

The more tattered they get, the less you have to take care of them.

And if you own them, you can even write in them.  

5. They help you increase your background knowledge.

Books are designed to attract your attention.

So, browsing through nonfiction shelves in a library encourages you to learn about new topics that you would not look up online. 

And all the new knowledge you gain from nonfiction books will help you make connections when you study new topics in school.

6. They encourage you to appreciate real life.

They tell you about what happened long ago and what might happen in the future.

They tell you about amazing places all over the world.

They tell you about people who have made a difference all over the world.

7. They encourage you to be creative. 

They show you how to paint a picture and build a campfire.

They tell you how to write a poem and cook a meal. 

They give you ideas for projects and directions for experiments.

8. They help build your reading skills.

You learn how books are organized with a page of contents, glossary and index. You learn to read the captions below pictures and the information on diagrams.

You learn how written information is organized with main ideas, details, and transition words.

You can learn new words and increase your vocabulary.

And if you start to read longer nonfiction books, you will learn to read slowly, carefully understanding one idea before going on to another idea. That slow reading will help you become better at understanding complex ideas.  And then you will be able to make deeper connections between ideas and events in real life. 

(Skimming and scanning on the internet, in contrast, does not encourage deep understanding of concepts.)

9. They encourage you to share knowledge.

Teachers notice that when students work on computers, they tend to become very quiet. They get lost in the world of the screen.  But if they find something they want to share with the people beside them, they soon start talking about other topics.

When students look at nonfiction books, they still tend to lean over to their neighbours. They start sharing what they are discovering. They smile and quietly talk about their books.  And then, they turn back to their own books and start reading again.  

 10. They are fun!

You can always find something new and interesting in the nonfiction section of a library.

Browse around. Read a little. Or read a lot.

Have fun expanding your mind!


Some books and sites for adults who want to learn more:

  • Greenfield, Susan. Mind Change: How Digital Technologies are Leaving their Marks on our Brains. New York: Random House, 2015.
  • Ulin, David L. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. Seattle, Wash.: Sasquatch Books, 2010.

Stories of Refugees


Immigrants and Refugees

Senker, Cath. Immigrants and Refugees. Mankato, Minn.: Smart Apple Media, 2012.

Tasting the Sky


Barakat, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky: a Palestinian Childhood. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

The Journey that Saved


Borden, Louise. The Journey that Saved Curious George : the True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

Diamonds in the Shadow


Cooney, Caroline B. Diamonds in the Shadow. New York: Delacorte Press, c2007.

Children of War


Ellis, Deborah. Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees. Berkeley, CA : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2009.

No Safe Place


Ellis, Deobrah. No Safe Place. Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010.


Mathews, L.S. Fish. New York : Yearling Book, [2006], c2004.

Day of the Pelican


Paterson, Katherine. The Day of the Pelican. Boston : Clarion Books, 2009. 

Bamboo People


Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2010.

The Red Pencill


Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The Red Pencil. New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2014.



Schmidt, Gary D. Trouble. New York: Clarion Books, 2008.

Walking Home


Walters, Eric. Walking Home. Toronto, ON : Doubleday Canada, 2014.

Now is the Time


Williams, Michael. Now Is the Time for Running. New York: Little, Brown, 2013, c2009.  

Read more stories about refugees: HERE and HERE

Catching Your Breath at School

Confused or irritated at school?

Which path do you follow?


Benefit:  It is much quicker.
Cost:  It is much harder on your health.



Benefit:  It is much better for your health.
Cost:  It takes longer.

Take the path to better health HERE!  

Make the Grade

“Angry people are not always wise.” – Jane Austen

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

The Dot

Listen to  a story and laugh!


“Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.” – Rod McKuen, poet

“Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.” – Jane Austen, novelist

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.” – May Sarton, poet and novelist

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” – Jane Austen, novelist

“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” – Viggo Mortensen, actor, poet, musician and artist

Relax with a summer vacation story. 


Critical Thinking

What is critical thinking?

A process: 

1. Acquire knowledge.

2. Understand the significance of that knowledge.

3. Understand how that knowledge relates to a current situation or problem.

4. Analyze the situation to find all the different aspects and possible causes.

5. Use the new knowledge to come up with creative ways to deal with a situation or solve a problem.

6. Use research and reasoning to evaluate before taking action. 

National Geographic Atlas

Check out these pages to start expanding your knowledge:

Literary Classics

World Geography

World History

[The above process is adapted from Bloom’s (1956) hierarchy of the cognitive domain.]

Finding Joy

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri Nouwen

The Little Prince

Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. The Little Prince. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000.

“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


Carlstrom, Nancy. Glory. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2001.

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 

Looking Like Me

Myers, Walter Dean. Looking Like Me. New York: Egmont USA, 2009.

“Joy to is fun what the deep sea is to a puddle. It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained.” – Terry Pratchett

A Tangle of Knots

Graff, Lisa. A Tangle of Knots. New York,: Puffin Books, 2014.

Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them. You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. – L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables

The Year of Billy Miller

Henkes, Kevin. The Year of Billy Miller. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2013.

“Scatter joy!” – Ralph Waldo Emerson