Truly Gross | Solar Studies | Biography Mania | Music To Your—Eyes?

Some boys think they know everything! Well, readers of these nonfiction books actually will! Try these great general books, then scroll down for our subject based selections.

ABCs of Baseball

by Peter Golenbock, illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Ages 5-8 | Grades K-3

As contemporary as today's sports page and as nostalgic as an old baseball card, this is an alphabet book for kids that can be used all through the year.


by Steven Kroll
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-7

The ancient Romans used the word "barbarian" to describe people who were coarse, rude, or even just foreign. Over time the word has also come to connote bloodthirsty cruelty. But were the Goths, the Huns, the Vikings, and the Mongols as barbaric as we've been led to believe?

Big Cats

by Joyce Milton, illustrated by Silvia Duran
Ages 7-8 | Grades 2 | Guided Reading Level L

From tigers to cougars and leopards to lions, this book is a great introduction to big cats. Topics discussed include hunting techniques, sleeping habits, color patterns, and the importance of preserving the cats’ habitats.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!

by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

The ancient Chinese thought they were magical dragons. Scientists thought they could only float on water since they were so big. Boy, were they wrong! Even today, notions about dinosaurs are being revised as new discoveries are made. This lively book offers fascinating insight into how certain theories were formulated, and then how those theories were proved or disproved.

Bug Out!

by Ginjer L. Clarke
Ages 4-8 | Grades PreS-3 |Guided Reading Level L

This reader features some of the most disgusting, far-out bugs on the planet. Learn how a scorpion uses its poison, discover how the jumping spider hunts, marvel at the weight of the giant wetapunga, and so much more in this book that will have everyone itching for more!

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Dinosaur Eggs

by Jennifer Dussling, Illustrated by Pamela Johnson
Ages 7-8 | Grade 2 | Guided Reading Level M

Follow a team of fossil hunters on a dig! This book presents a fascinating look at dinosaur egg fossils and dinosaurs in general.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!


by Laura Driscoll
Ages 4-6 | Grades PreK-1 | Guided Reading Level I

Croak if you love frogs! Amazing amphibians leap from the pages of this easy nonfiction reader featuring incredible cut-paper frogs in every color, shape, and size.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Grossology: The Science of Really Gross Things!

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 8-10 | Grades 2-5

Sometimes it's stinky, sometimes it's crusty, and sometimes it's slimy. But hey, it's your body. It's usually the same stuff on someone else's body that's really gross. But as an Official Grossologist, you will find out a lot of sickening things about everyone.

Animal Grossology

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 9-12 | Grades 3-7

Learn about slimy creatures, vomit-munchers, bloodsuckers, and unforgettable animal poops. It's an icky concoction of information, but it contains a heaping helping of real and memorable scientific facts.

Grossology and You

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-6

We have news for you: You are gross. (And you thought we'd never find out)! This book provides information in a not-so-serious manner about such topics as blood, eyeballs, brains, bruises, constipation, warts, rashes, and more.

Hands-On Grossology

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-6

This book includes instructions for a variety of simple, but gross, science experiments that illustrate some of the more "disgusting" aspects of human physiology. It also includes related activities and experiments.

Ickstory: Unraveling the History of Mummies Around the World

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 4-8 | Grades PreS-3

This icky, sticky history lesson about mummies from around the world has hilarious illustrations and disgusting facts about mummies, sure to keep readers wrapped up for hours!

Jeff Corwin: Snakes

by Jeff Corwin
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

Read along as animal expert Jeff Corwin tells you about his favorite snakes and the experiences he's had with them!

Marching for Freedom

by Elizabeth Partridge
Ages 10 up | Grades 5 up

Award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge leads you straight into the chaotic, passionate, and deadly three months of protests that culminated in the landmark march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Focusing on the courageous children who faced terrifying violence in order to march alongside King, this is an inspiring look at their fight for the vote.

Math Curse

by John Scieszka
Ages 1 & up | Grades PreS & up

Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes till the bus leaves. Is there enough time? Don't worry—it's just the Math Curse striking!

Science Verse

by John Scieszka
Ages 1 & up | Grades PreS & up

What if a boring lesson about the food chain became a sing-aloud celebration about predators and prey? What if amoebas, combustion, metamorphosis, viruses, and the creation of the universe are all irresistible, laugh-out-loud poetry? Well, you're thinking in science verse, that's what. And if you can't stop the rhymes...the atomic joke is on you.


by Joyce Milton
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3 | Guided Reading Level M

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

The Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle

by Jeff Belanger
Ages 4-6 | Grades PreS-1

Join supernatural expert Jeff Belanger as he explores the mysterious Bermuda Triangle! What exactly makes it so mysterious? And just how many ships have disappeared there over the years? The answers to these questions and more lay inside!

Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers

by Gary Blackwood
Ages 10 & up | Grades 5 & up

This fascinating look at history's most mysterious messages is packed with puzzles to decode and ciphers that kids can use themselves. As computers change the way we communicate, codes today are more intriguing than ever. From invisible ink to the CIA, this exciting trip through history is a hands-on, interactive experience, so get cracking!

Nasty Bugs

Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Will Terry
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

A collection of creepy, crawly poems by some of today's most beloved children's poets This tribute to the delightful nastiness of bugs features sixteen poems by accomplished children's poets, including Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, and Rebecca Andrew Loescher.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!


by Ginjer L. Clarke, Steven James Petruccio
Ages 4-6 | Grades PreK-1 | Guided Reading Level J

The very youngest readers can learn all about sharks-the fiercest of the fish family-in this informative reader. The simple, clear text and striking pictures makes this a perfect first introduction to these amazing creatures.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Spider’s Lunch: All About Garden Spiders

by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Ron Broda
Ages 6-7 | Grade 1 | Guided Reading Level G

This introduction to the arachnid world explains how a hungry garden spider obtains food by building a web and patiently waiting to catch something tasty.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Volcanoes: Mountains That Blow Their Tops

by Nicholas Nargoitis
Ages 6-8 | Grades K-3 | Guided Reading Level M

This introduction to the arachnid world explains how a hungry garden spider obtains food by building a web and patiently waiting to catch something tasty.

See Penguin Young Readers Website!

Truly Gross

It is important that children understand how our bodies work and why they do the things they do. These books are not only informative—they're downright disgusting! Trace our bodily functions while reading these books aloud to children, letting them read along and shout out their favorite words.

Blood and Goo and Boogers Too

by Steve Alton
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

This book reveals the sticky, sniffly secrets of the respiratory and circulatory systems in all their three-dimensional glory. With layers of pop-ups, pulls, and flaps, this book delivers the goods on everything from smelling and snot to blood and scabs.

Chewy, Gooey, Rumble, Plop

by Steve Alton
Ages 7 & up | Grades 2 & up

Humans are hollow! You are basically just a tube, with a hole at each end. Food goes in one hole and...something else comes out of the other. But what goes on in between?

Ickstory: The History of Vampires and Other Real Blood Drinkers

by Sylvia Branzei
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

Separating fact from fiction, from Bram Stoker's Dracula to real cultures all over the world, this easy-to-read book will horrify and delight readers for hours as they learn about vampires and blood drinkers throughout history.

Solar Studies

July 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind." TEACHERS: Talk to your students about the significance of this event. Have them research and write about the other astronauts that were on Apollo 11, like Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. or Michael Collins.

Next, as a class, make a model of the solar system. Try to make the planet sizes as close as possible to scale so your students understand how huge outer space really is.

Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System

by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

Some people used to think that Earth was smack-dab in the middle of the universe, with all the stars and planets held in the sky by giant glass balls. Boy, were they wrong! From the first humans wondering about the night sky to the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, this book is an entertaining and informative look at how scientific theories change over time.

Mission Control, This is Apollo

by Andrew Chalkin
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-7

July 20, 1969, marked one of the greatest moments in our history—the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon. But it is only one piece of a magnificent story. Mission Control, This Is Apollo recounts space history from the Mercury missions through Apollo 17 and beyond.

Biography Mania

There are TONS of great men for young boys to look up to. Pick a biography—any biography—and see what lessons readers can learn from those who came before them. TEACHERS: Ask students to make oral presentations about their biography subjects, even dressing up like their study topic!

Alexander Hamilton : The Outsider

by Jean Fritz
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

In an amazing biography with all the drama of an adventure, the acclaimed Jean Fritz writes the remarkable story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America;s most influential and fascinating founding fathers. Born in the British West Indies, Hamilton arrived in New York as an "outsider." He went on to flight alongside Washington, help write the Constitution and become first Secretary of Treasury in U.S. history.

All Star! Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever

by Jane Yolen | illustrated by Jim Burke
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

The Honus Wagner baseball card is the most valuable baseball card of all time! But he was born poor, ugly, bow-legged, and more suited to shoveling coal in his Pennsylvania mining town than becoming the greatest shortstop of all time. How could it happen? Did those strong arms and fast legs turn him into a Pittsburgh Pirate and one of the game's most unforgettable players?

Boy: Tales of Childhood

by Roald Dahl
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

Where did Roald Dahl get all of his wonderful ideas for stories? From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, bestselling books, Roald Dahl's tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny.

Going Solo

by Roald Dahl
Ages 12 up | Grades 7 up

Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl's exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures.

Jim Thorpe, Original All-American

by Joseph Bruchac
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest athletes who ever lived. He played professional football and Major League baseball, and won Olympic gold medals in track and field. But his life wasn't always quite so easy...

Knucklhead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka

by John Scieszka
Ages 9-11 | Grades 3-6

How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers is a good start, but throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead, a hilarious trip down memory lane.

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

by Matt de la Peña
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

A striking, evocative portrait of American sports hero, A Nation's Hope is the story of a match fought on the eve of Word War II between African American boxer Joe Louis, an African American, and German Max Schmeling. This elegant and powerful picture book centers around the historic fight in which racial prejudices were put aside as a nation came together as one.

Race Car Drivers: Start Your Engines!

by Steele Tyler Filipek
Ages 6-8 | Grades 1-3

Little boys love cars and speed. When you combine those two things into one sport, you come up with NASCAR driving! Read all about NASCAR's greatest stars, both past and present, inside!

Who Was Harry Houdini?

by Tui Sutherland
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-6

Every kid has heard of Harry Houdini, the famous magician who could escape from handcuffs, jail cells, and locked trunks. But do they know that the ever-ambitious and adventurous Houdini was also a famous movie star and the first pilot to fly a plane in Australia?

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.

by Bonnie Bader
Ages 7-11 | Grades 1-6

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he started organizing for basic civil rights. Learn more about his nonviolent tactics for advocacy in this informative biography.

Who Was Walt Disney?

by Whitney Stewart
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-6

Walt Disney's affection for his small-town childhood is reflected in Disneyland Main Streets around the world. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, this biography reveals more about the man behind the magic.

Up Close: Babe Ruth

by Wilborn Hampton
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

Babe Ruth is still regarded as perhaps the greatest baseball player ever to step on a diamond. Babe went on to shatter every home-run record on the books—back when fewer games were played in a season and a heavier ball was used!

Up Close: Bill Gates

by Marc Aronson
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

Bill Gates is many things: the richest person in the world; the ruthless businessman who co-founded Microsoft and led it to domination of the computer software industry; and now, the leading global philanthropist.

Up Close: Johnny Cash

by Anne E. Neilmark
Ages 11 & up | Grades 5 & up

Johnny Cash was so much more than a country-music star. The only musician ever to be inducted into three halls of fame (Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Songwriters), his music and his legacy have influenced performers ranging from Bob Dylan to U2 to Nine Inch Nails.

Music To Your—Eyes?

TEACHERS: These books are about people who shaped the musical world, making them the perfect study for March's "Music in our Schools Month." After reading one or more with students, have them bring in the lyrics to a song written by that musician. Knowing that lyrics are often personal poetry for a song writer, analyze the words according to the new understanding you have of your musician's life. What significances stand out to students?

John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth

by Elizabeth Partridge
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

John Lennon's turbulent childhood started in 1940 during a World War II air raid on Liverpool. From his rebellious rock and roll teen years to his celebrated career writing, recording, and performing music with the Beatles, John struggled to make sense of his life—one that had turned from youthful angst to suffocating fame in almost a split second.