25 Must Have Narrative Nonfiction Books - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

25 Must Have Narrative Nonfiction Books

If you have spent anytime at all talking to me about books, than you know that I am pretty obsessed with picture books, but more specifically, the genre of narrative nonfiction. I love the idea of combining real life factual events and putting it in a format that flows nicely and pulls in readers who may not typically go for nonfiction books. So to that point here are 25 nonfiction narrative books that I love for elementary classrooms! This post does include affiliate links. 

1. The World is Not a Rectangle 


Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing buildings. At the time, there were not women architects. Hadid did not give up and now you can see her stunning buildings around the world. 

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Dashrath Manjhi used basic tools and a lot of determination to drill through a mountain so that his village could access hospitals, schools, and more! This act took Manjhi 20 years!  Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if they refuse to give up!

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This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.

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Temple Grandin 

When Temple was diagnosed with autism as a child, no one expected her to talk. Little did they know that she would become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Temple's visual thinking enabled her to improve the quality of life for animals all over the world. 

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5. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

Bubble gum was invented in 1928, when an enterprising young accountant at Fleer Gum and Candy used his spare time to experiment with different recipes. Use this book to learn the history of one of their favorite treats!

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6. Ticktock Banneker's Clock

Benjamin Banneker was born a free man in Maryland at a time when most African Americans were enslaved.  At the age of 22 he taught himself how to build a clock. This amazing book does a wonderful job giving a timeline for how long an invention can take and the amount of perseverance required to succeed. 

7. On a Beam of Light

The true and inspiring story of Albert Einstein and his struggles as a young student. 

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8. The Boy Who Grew a Forest 

 As a boy, Jadav Payeng was worried about the destruction of the forest and the erosion of the land around him so he began planting trees. What began as a small patch of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. 

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9. Whoosh

Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the super soaker water gun. 

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10. I Dissent 

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg learned to argue and defend people at a very young age. 

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11. Trombone Shorty 

 Today, Troy Andrews is a Grammy-nominated musician who tours the world with his band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. He inspires hope for the next generation in New Orleans and for music lovers everywhere.

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12. The Darkest Dark 

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he's a brave astronaut exploring the universe. Only one problem: At night Chris doesn't feel so brave. He's afraid of the dark.

But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is - and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company.

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12. Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor

While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere--she even brought a crocodile to school!
When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious Komodo dragons. 

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With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard James took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn’t just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.

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15. Henry and the Cannons 

 In 1775 in the dead of winter, a bookseller named Henry Knox dragged 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston - 225 miles of lakes, forest, mountains, and few roads. It was a remarkable journey and lesson of determination. 

16. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind 

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail.  William spent his days in the library and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Against all odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

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17. Mae Among the Stars 

Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

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18. One Plastic Bag 

Isatou Ceesay teaches women how to take trash and make something useful out of it. Through her ingenious idea Isatou has employed many women who may not have had opportunities otherwise. 

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19. Me...Jane


 As young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals", until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

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 As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way due to a deformed leg. He rode an astonishing 400 miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. 

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21. The House that Jane Built 

Ever since she was a little girl, Jane Addams hoped to help people in need. In 1889, she bought a house in a run-down Chicago neighborhood and turned it into a settlement home, adding on playgrounds, kindergartens, and a public bath. By 1907, Hull House included thirteen buildings. And by the early 1920s, more than 9,000 people visited Jane's home each week. 

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22. When Marian Sang 

This book follows Marian Anderson from childhood to concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, which drew a crowd of 75,000 people. 

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23. Finding Winnie 

In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.

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24. Salt in His Shoes 

Michael Jordan wasn't always a basketball legend. When he was a kid on the playground, he was the boy that people didn't want on their team. Michael works hard, grows a couple inches, and grabs the opportunity to show the boys at the playground his skills! 

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25. The Tree Lady 

Katherine Sessions grew up in northern California surrounded by trees and then moved to the southwest part of the state to become a teacher. She missed her trees and began an effort to transform San Diego. 
Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city.
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3 comments

  1. Wow. I wish every community could give these books to children. Motivational selection.

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  2. I thank the author for creating the post; it was really useful to me and I enjoyed it. I made a note about it on the uk writings. I'd appreciate it if you could read it and accept it. Thank you for taking the time to express your issue.

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