When people think of children’s books, classics like Charlotte’s Web and Dr. Seuss’s books come to mind. But children’s nonfiction books are a huge portion of the literary market for young readers even though they don’t feature magical characters or a happily ever after conclusion.
Instead, they offer kids a chance to learn about the magical world, see pictures of animals and places they have never imagined before, or even discover a way to accomplish something they didn’t know how to do. Children’s nonfiction books can be written and published by new or experienced authors for children of all ages.
Writing children’s nonfiction books may be the perfect way for you to become a published author. Let’s take a look at the most popular kinds of children’s nonfiction books as well as an easy strategy for you to write and self-publish your own.
Types of Children’s Nonfiction Books
The subgenres of children’s nonfiction books are not as broad as those nonfiction books written for an adult audience since things like self-help or cookbooks won’t be as appropriate or interesting for most kids to read.
But children enjoy reading a wide range of nonfiction subgenres that are perfect for little hands and growing minds to enjoy. Some of the most popular categories of children’s nonfiction books are:
- Browsable Books. This fun category of books is designed so that kids can pick them up and read a little at a time or scour from cover to cover. They are filled with facts, pictures, and short explanation blurbs to engage kids in learning about all kinds of subjects.
Authors who choose this type of book may include a theme that ties the book’s various topics together, as the Egyptology series of books does. Other examples of browsable children’s books are Ripley’s Believe It or Not books, encyclopedia-style books and the Guinness Book of World Records series.
- Concept Books. These books are geared toward the youngest readers who are learning the fundamentals of how things work. Concept books introduce little ones to basic concepts like colors and shapes utilizing simple words and bold, visibly appealing graphics and may even be made with thick pages or plastic coil bindings to increase durability for small hands and high usage.
- Craft Books. Children of all ages love to make things and craft books help them find and explore their creative sides. Craft books can be scaled and focused differently to provide crafts options for older and younger readers as well as for many different situations.
They can offer easy-to-follow tutorials for crafting with free or recycled items, provide a new or novel twist on classic crafts, give little hands simple versions of crafts to try or even help out older kids with more complicated creative activities that produce jewelry or clothing.
- Expository Literature. One way kids learn all about their latest obsession like sharks or airplanes is by reading expository literature that features longer text sections combined with shorter captions chock full of interesting information, data, and insight into a topic. They also tend to use realistic graphics or photography to bring the topic to life and these books have a browsable quality about them but only focus on one general topic.
- How-To Books. Just like the adult nonfiction category, children’s how-to books show kids step-by-step instructions to complete a task. Different from craft books, how-to books demonstrate everything from how to light a campfire to simple food preparation techniques perfect for the hungry grade-schooler.
These books guide kids through a process and provide them with easy instructions usually accompanied by pictures, drawings or other graphics to help them successfully master the activity.
- Question and Answer Books. The format of a Q&A book is very appealing to kids because they spend a lot of their young lives asking who, what, when, where, why and how to understand the world around them and may follow a basic question-and-answer pattern or include a narrative that ties the questions together.
Writing Children’s Nonfiction Books
If writing a children’s nonfiction book sounds like something you want to try, following a few strategic steps can get you on your way in no time.
1 Pick the type of nonfiction book you want to write. This is the first step because preparing a concept book is very different from prepping to write a more in-depth book like expository literature or browsable books. Take a look at books from each category and pick the one that seems the most comfortable for you to write and then settle on the target reader for your book.
2 Select the topic for your book. Since your passion for or lack of interest in a subject can transfer to your writing and your desire to work on a project, choose a general topic that you like rather than simply one that you think will sell books. You don’t have to be an expert in the subject, but you should have at least an interest in it so that your book’s contents will feel authentic and you will be motivated to continue working on the book until it is ready to send off to the printer.
3 Do your research. The next step in writing children’s nonfiction books is to spend plenty of time researching so that not only will your book be appealing to potential readers but also so that you will know everything you need to know about your topic to actually write the contents of the book.
- Read other books in your subgenre and see what popular books look like and what they have in common. Remember that although your target readers may be young, the ones purchasing the book will be adults. So your book needs to feel enough like other books in this same category that parents and customers will want to pick your book up.
- Research your general topic thoroughly. Gain a general understanding of the topic so that you can make more specific decisions about your topic knowledgeably.
4 Narrow down your topic. Choose a specific niche or angle for approaching your topic so that your book will have a unique perspective and stand out from others on the market. You may need to do more research once you have decided on the way you will approach your children’s nonfiction books, depending on how in-depth your book will cover the subject area.
5 Focus on primary sources. Since children’s nonfiction books present factual content, the best way to ensure that your sources are presenting the most reliable information is to go to original sources. Newspaper articles written at the same time that an event occurred or an interview with an eyewitness would both be considered primary sources. But a book analyzing an event or story would be considered a secondary source since the person writing the content was not present at the original event. While secondary sources are excellent to use in the initial phases of your research, primary sources should be used during the final fact-gathering stage of writing.
6 Organize your research before you begin writing children’s nonfiction books. Not only will structure help you see what information you have to use in your book, but it will also show you where your content has holes that you may need to fill. Organizing your information may also uncover a new perspective you can use in your children’s nonfiction books, show you the natural flow of the information you have gathered or even direct you toward different types of children’s nonfiction books.
7 Begin writing the content of your children’s nonfiction books. You may want to create an outline for lengthier children’s nonfiction books but for less complicated books, like concept books, you may not need one. Be sure to note where photos and illustrations will best serve the content of your book as you focus on writing the text portion of the book.
8 Consider hiring an expert. If you are not a skilled photographer or graphic artist, you may want to hire a professional to help you with this key aspect of children’s nonfiction books. Since kids are so visual, having high-quality pictures and graphics will ensure that even kids that cannot read well yet can enjoy your book.
9 Design a cover that will attract readers. Using engaging cover designs, bright, bold colors and exciting photos or graphic elements will catch a potential reader’s attention. Enlist the help of a cover designer if needed to make sure that not only does your book’s cover fit in with other nonfiction books for kids but also that the cover will be interesting and appealing to young readers.
10 Partner with Dazzle Printing. Working with an experienced printer like Dazzle Printing can help you transform your writing dreams into a beautifully printed book that kids will love to read. With on-demand printing, experts available to help you and quick turnaround times, you can become the author of children’s nonfiction books in a short amount of time.