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Inside A Fuse #8 Production

31 Days, 31 Lists: 2018 Nonfiction Chapter Books

Now this is interesting. I don’t really know, until I get to the end of the year, how well I balanced my reading of older works of children’s nonfiction. Are they all biographies? Animal books? A mix? Is there anything here that doesn’t slot into either of those two categories? Yes yes and yes. I should clarify before we begin that calling these “Chapter Books” is a bit misleading. Think of them, instead, as works of Nonfiction for slightly older children in the 9-12 year-old range. Or, in the case of books like The Faithful Spy, 10 and up.

As with yesterday, I’m linking to those lists where these books may have appeared before, this month. And now, enjoy a beautiful bevy of facts:


2018 Nonfiction Chapter Books

Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide by Rachel Poliquin, ill. Nicholas John Frith

As seen on the list: Science & Nature Books


For the record, the cartoonist Sarah Anderson summarized my feelings about this book best when she drew the following cartoon:


I’ve been like this about beavers for months. Thank you, Ms. Poliquin and Mr. Frith. It’s a great great book.

Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the S.S. Eastland Disaster by Patricia Sutton

As seen on the list: American History


Cute As An Axolotl: Discovering the World’s Most Adorable Animals by Jess Keating, ill. David DeGrand

As seen on the list: Science & Nature Books


Death Eaters: Meet Nature’s Scavengers by Kelly Milner Halls

As seen on the list: Science & Nature Books


The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

As seen on the list: Unique Biographies


The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

As seen on the list: Unique Biographies


A History of Pictures for Children by David Hockney & Martin Gayford, ill. Rose Blake


A better history of art than you’re likely to find for kids in quite a while. Using famous works of art (and not all the usual (read: Western) suspects either) the book clarifies why some pieces deserve to be remembered and what it is that makes them special. Pairs beautifully with the Leonardo book on this list, come to think of it.

The Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery, ill. Nic Bishop

As seen on the list: Science & Nature Books


Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera


I had no other list to put this on! I considered adding it to the poetry list, but honestly it’s not really straight poetry. This kooky, keen, crazy little book considers the art of coming up with great ideas for poetry, and getting them down immediately. Along the way it loses, finds, loses, regains, and loses its narrative thread. This is pretty much Ulysses for kids, and I think that if you handed it to the right kid, they’d understand what Mr. Herrera has been trying to tell them (and only them!) all along.

Leonardo Da Vinci (Meet the Artist! series) by Patricia Geis

As seen on the list: Unique Biographies


Mallko and Dad by Gusti


There’s been a bit of debate (at least amongst the professional review journals) on what exactly to do with this little book. As an import, this true tale of a father and his son with Down syndrome touches a nerve wherever you go. So is it for adults then? Or kids? I’d argue strongly that it is for children everywhere, whether they’re kids living in families with a member that doesn’t conform in some way, or they just like a good true story.

Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You by Marley Dias


If Marley sounds familiar, you may have seen her on Ellen talking about her #1000blackgirlbooks project. She’s one of those camera-perfect young women that are famous for one thing and then actually make a darn good book on the other. There are some hiccups, don’t get me wrong. For example, Marley’s not exactly hurting for cash. That means that when she suggests to the reader that they might like to have something like ten different glasses (with different colored frames) that’s not really a realistic goal for some kids to set. But overall I liked the book’s message, attitude, book selection (very impressive), and copious use of Rita Williams-Garcia and Jacqueline Woodson. A bit of a winner, this.

My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss and Hope by Diane Guerrero with Erica Moroz


I’ve never had a chance to see actress Dane Guerrero act on any shows, but after reading this book I’d love to start! When Diane was just starting out at a competitive high school for the performing arts, her parents were both nabbed by ICE. Diane came home to find no one there. She was on her own in the world. It’s a gripping story, and an adaptation of her book for adults, if I don’t miss my guess. It’s also very readable. Good stuff.

People of Peace: 40 Inspiring Icons by Sandrine Mirza, ill. Le Duo

As seen on the list: Unique Biographies


Struttin’ With Some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong Becomes the First Lady of Jazz by Patricia Hruby Powell, ill. Rachel Himes

As seen on the list: Unique Biographies


We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson


Thirty illustrated essays, poems, stories, and letters from more than fifty diverse children’s book creators discuss the times in which we live, the way the world is changing, and what young people can do to stay hopeful and useful. It’s beautifully rendered and edited too. And just check out that cover. Nice!


Interested in the other lists? Here’s the schedule of everything being covered this month. Enjoy!

December 1 – Board Books & Pop-Ups

December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

December 3 – Wordless Picture Books

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – CaldeNotts

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Books for Kids

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – Translated Picture Books

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Poetry Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Comics for Kids

December 21 – Older Funny Books

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Fiction Reprints

December 30 – Middle Grade Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I’d add Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill by Heather L. Montgomery. It’s probably my favorite book of the year. It reminds me of some of Jean Craighead George’s first-person narrative nonfiction with a passion and curiosity that’s infectious.

  2. Please advise how Peartree’s latest award-winning book, Groundhogs Across America, can be featured or included in this list. This book is recent recipient of Academics’ Choice Smart Book Award in Nonfiction for Mind-thinking excellence 2018; FAPA President’s Choice Nonfiction award 2017.
    This is not a post but a query to which Peartree would appreciate a reply.
    Barbara Birenbaum