Nonfiction Favorites for Children from The National Endowment for the Humanities

Background on the List

Girl lying on bed reading bookThe demand for superior nonfiction texts has never been stronger than it is today in K-12 education. Add to that the challenge of fostering a life-long love of reading through books that children will want to return to—even when school is out.

EDSITEment and its parent agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities, have a distinguished history of supplying suggestions for exceptional K-12 reading resources. In order to find engaging informational texts that also tell a good story with a humanities focus, NEH has scoured nonfiction award lists and crowdsourced recommendations to present a brand new list for summer, the next school year, or any time. 

After extensive internal review and consultation with a panel of respected education and library science experts, the Endowment has put together this collection of fascinating readings on a variety of topics: including the story behind a famous American dance; what really goes on in the hunt for dinosaurs; and a photographer’s memoirs of his experience working in Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. The list is arranged by overlapping age groups to accommodate a range of reading abilities: 5–8; 7–10; 9–13; 11–15; and 15–17.

The literary choices not only supply riveting reading, they also reflect the many humanities subject areas the Endowment has funded throughout its history. So, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities, we invite you to explore these readings with your children and/or your students by perusing the attached brochure, which you can also print out and distribute. Happy reading!

Booklist Advisors

  • Elizabeth Bush, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois
  • James Grossman, American Historical Association
  • Michelle Martin, College of Information and Communications, University of South Carolina
  • Carmen Martinez, Oakland (CA) Public Library (retired)
  • Kate McDowell, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois
  • Thom McHugh, Carroll County (MD) Public Schools
  • Aimee Strittmatter, American Library Association
Printing Instructions

PDF file (requires 11” x 17” paper). Download

More Information

Get the complete list and online access to books by age level here