Fantastic Fiction for Kids – Fiction about Nonfiction

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fantastic_fiction_buttonToday’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids comes from Natalie at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, where she writes about the play and learning she and her daughter get up to. They read a lot of books together and I often find a new book I too want to read from Natalie’s recommendations, so I was thrilled when Natalie said she would contribute to today’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids. And here’s what Natalie has to say…

I am very excited to contribute today. I thought hard about the topic for my contribution. Finally I had to ask myself – what books does my three-year-old daughter really enjoy and keep asking for? And the answer came quickly – she likes “fiction about non-fiction”. In other words, she likes the books about people and relationships between them, but she doesn’t like “fact-based books” with photo pictures. So I decided to write about three authors and their books that we really love in this house:

100 School Days by Anne F. Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell


Anne Rockwell is an author of many “fiction about non-fiction” books. She wrote several beginners’ books for rthe Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out series, but Anna loves her books about holidays. They all involve a kindergarten classroom with a very diverse group of kids and their teacher, Mrs Madoff. Interestingly, these books are illustrated by Anne Rockwell’s daughter – the fact that Anna finds very fascinating. The stories are told from kids’ point of view, and each book describes an activity or an art project, so they are perfect for story extension activities.
The Family Book by Todd Parr


Another favorite author in our house is Todd Parr. His stories are great for children who are beginning to read and also for “memory reading”. There is usually very little text on each page except the very last page of the book. But what we both love most is his illustrations – they are bright and child-like. He is also very consistent in his message of acceptance and love for people of every race, religion, and sexual orientation, and this is something that I want to teach my child early.
Usborne Complete Book of First Experiences by Anne Civardi


This book reigns supreme as the most favorite book in our personal collection. She keeps pulling it from the shelf and now it moved to a permanent position at her night stand. Again, there is really no suspense in those stories (she is not a big fan of suspense and conflict in the books), but she can connect to the kids just like her that are going through experiences that she finds fascinating – like going to the dentist or having a hospital stay. All the stories in the book are equally good, and they can lead to hours of pretend play.

I (Zoe) love the sound of all these books! And I think Natalie has hit on a very interesting issue about how kids respond to non-fiction books. I certainly don’t read many with M and J, and those that I do often disappoint (like the one we read on Monday!), but that’s partly why I try to take part in Nonfiction Monday – to find excellent examples of non-fiction which I think the girls will enjoy. My favourite non-fiction book that I’ve reviewed here on Playing by the book is this one. I’d love to hear about your experiences of reading non-fiction with your kids, and what you think makes for a good non-fiction book.

Today’s musical suggestions are:

  • School Day by Chuck Berry
  • Family by Bunny Hall from the album Peace in Our Land: Children Celebrating Diversity
  • Imagine Anna as a Dentist from a CD of personalised kids music

  • And here are some play ideas which might work well alongside Natalie’s books:

  • Lots of resources for role play from a popular UK site called Sparklebox
  • Vetinary role play from Soulemama
  • Making your own photo family tree – a project M, J and I did some time back

  • So a big Thank you to Natalie for her selection of books today. Please do drop by her blog and say hi! Two of her recent posts which I particuarly enjoyed include this one about ( not) turning the TV off, and this one where Natalie’s daughter, Anna, made some great Egyptian statues! Natalie also hosts What My Child is Reading – Every Saturday sees this round up of what kids have been reading and is a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

    10 Responses

    1. Natalie

      Thank you for giving me an opportunity to contribute to Fantastic Fiction. I put up my post introducing your blog too.

    2. Ticia

      I think we’ve read her Halloween book in that series, and my boys kept asking me to read it over and over and over again.

      On the subject of nonfiction books, my kids are actually the opposite. They want to read mainly nonfiction. When we go to the library they head straight for the nonfiction and look at the pictures on the side of the shelf and decide what type of books they want. Usually something about bones, something about dinosaurs, and then they’ll start picking animals. So, I’ve become very good at finding nonfiction books on the level of a preschooler.

    3. Janelle

      Each day my daughter is at school she visits the school library and picks out a book on her own. More often than not she brings home a nonfiction book about some animal or another. I love that she gets to pick on her own and enjoy seeing what she is interested in reading.

    4. Zoe @ Playing by the book

      Hi Janelle and Ticia,
      I’m really glad to hear that you’ve got kids who do go for nonfiction! It’s heartening to hear.

      And Natalie – a bit thank you for today 🙂 Great books and stimulating topic!

    5. Sheela

      Thanks, Natalie, and Zoe. My daughter enjoys fantasy fiction, but, she has also been showing keen interest in non-fiction – straight-up or presented via fiction. I do agree, plain facts can be boring and hard to remember, but, when wrapped in a nice little fiction package, it makes a deeper impression. I must try some these listed here on the younger one as well.

    6. Molly

      Thanks for these recommendations!! Lovely! I appreciate the fact that fiction based on non-fiction really hits the best of both worlds for kids, and these are great examples of that.

      I found a book the other day called “Sewing a Friendship” written by a ten year old author named Natalie Tinti. Now, it’s more a of book, I think, for tweens, but it certainly has a very real-world message of acceptance and making friends. It’s presented in such a beautiful way, straight from the heart of a young one. It’s just an amazing book, and I highly recommend it. Here’s a link – http://tintinatie.com/About.php I just love it!

      Thanks again for this list. I’m glad I found this blog! =)

    7. Sarah N.

      Thanks for the recommendations. Both my girls love the Complete Book of First Experiences. When my older daughter went through a period of being very fearful of going to the doctor or dentist the stories in that book really helped. Both my girls enjoy non-fiction as long as it’s on a topic they are already interested in. I’ve shown them where to find dinosaur and other animal books so now my 3yo often asks for a stool so she can search the shelves for a book about whales or penguins or elephants or another favored animal. Sometimes she picks out a book that for much old kids and we just look at the pictures.

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