Thinking Outside the Picture Book Stacks: Nonfiction at Storytime

Earlier we talked about using poetry in storytime. I promised to return with more titles to raid your non-picture book collection for when planning storytime. Here are just a few suggestions from each of the Dewey classes (and please add your own in the comments):

My Librarian is a Camel: I love this book for an audience with some school-age kids, as it talks about libraries all over the world. You could bring a globe with you and show the students how far some of the countries are from your own country.

Other Goose: Re-Nurseried and Re-Rhymed Children's Classics: Have the kids recite some traditional nursery rhymes, then teach them one of these re-imagined versions. My pick would be "Old King Coal" on page 48.

Two recent collections of international rhymes and tales I enjoyed were Sally Go Round the Stars: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood and The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India (told in comic strip format, so probably better adapted to a storytelling format).

If you are working with an older audience than preschoolers, I think 14 Cows for America and Mama Miti are great potential read-alouds. The former is the true story of a remote Kenyan village's healing donation of 14 cows to the U.S. after the September 11th attacks. The latter is inspired by the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

You will have tons of options in the animal-heavy 590s, like Tara and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends. I also like Elephants Can Paint Too! and Wombats. There are some great picture books about wombats, but my preschoolers in Michigan aren't likely to know much about them. This is a great introduction for the little ones.

 At the Fire Station An older choice, this is a great nonfiction complement to a firefighter storytime. My firefighter storytime is probably the biggest hit of all the themes I do all year. I like to think the fire department enjoys it too.


  1. I have used quite a few NF picture books with the PJ storytime (1st-4th graders)especially the ones that include real life animals such as: Winter's Tale, Tarra & Bella: the Elephant & the Dog who became best friends, and Kate& Pippin. I still would like to incorporate more NF for the Preschool group, though our library doesn't have too many lower level NF-our cooperative probably does.


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