Putting Your Best Foot Forward | Early Readers Series Nonfiction

This spring’s series nonfiction titles for early readers offer books on a range of fun and fresh topics that will help build foundational reading skills.  

Learning how to read with confidence—and then practicing that newfound skill with some colorful, fascinating books—is a prize worth savoring. How wonderful to be able to share that joy with our favorite young learners. And isn’t spring a great time to do just that? After all, spring is a time for awakening! This spring, publishers are bringing forth some excellent, engaging nonfiction series for young readers, designed not only to help them flex those all-important phonemic muscles, but also to “awaken” them to information and ideas about an array of familiar and not-so-familiar topics. Kids will “spring” into these fun-filled books that will help them build reading skills while learning about math, science, and social studies.



BECKER, Trudy. Helping After Disasters. ISBN 9798889980148.
––––. Helping As a Mentor. ISBN 9798889980155.
––––. Helping At School. ISBN 9798889980162.
––––. Helping in the Community. ISBN 9798889980179.
––––. Helping Lead Activities. ISBN 9798889980186.
––––. Helping People in Need. ISBN 9798889980193.
––––. Helping with Animals. ISBN 9798889980209.
––––. Helping with Sports and Games. ISBN 9798889980216.
ea vol: 24p. (Community Helpers). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2024. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 1-3–This upbeat series encourages children to think about the importance of helping others, and how they and their families can get involved. It outlines practical, realistic ways people can, and do, actually help. Quality color photos accompany texts, aiding comprehension by showing various child and adult helpers at work, highlighting the volumes’ themes. Throughout the series the photos portray racial, ethnic, and age diversity. Vocabulary words are bolded in short, clear sentences. “That’s Amazing!” and “Did You Know?” features offer additional information. Each volume wraps up with a suggested writing activity to secure comprehension. Back matter includes a glossary, an index, a bibliography, and a link to additional resources for educators. VERDICT This fine series introduces students to various community jobs and encourages altruistic sensibilities.

BOLTE, Mari. Backhoes. ISBN 9781640267565.
––––. Concrete Mixers. ISBN 9781640267589.
––––. Forklifts. ISBN 9781640269217.
––––. Wheel Loaders. ISBN 9781640269224.
ea vol: 24p. (Seedlings). Creative Company/Creative Education. Jan. 2024. Tr. $35.70.
PreS-Gr 2–Truck mavens will be in heaven. Each volume opens with a cheery invitation: “Time to dig/lift!” The final page sums up the truck’s daily job with a similarly jovial message: “All done digging/lifting!” In the pages between, readers are welcomed in with clear and simply written sentences explaining the trucks’ functions, how they work, and their various parts. Unfamiliar terms appear in contrasting type and are defined in the glossary without pronunciation guides. Large type and plenty of white space make for easy, comfortable reading. Clear and colorful action photos of the vehicles doing their jobs will keep young learners enthralled. Sometimes insets are placed within larger photos to clarify meaning and to highlight less visible parts of the trucks. Drivers—all male—occasionally appear in photos, mostly from a distance. Back matter includes an index and a glossary, a labeled diagram of the vehicle, and additional resources. VERDICT This easy, fun series is sure to be appreciated by truck/vehicle lovers, and serves as an introduction to the world of work.

CARLSON BERNE, Emma. Eating Well. ISBN 9798889162421.
––––. Exercising. ISBN 9798889162452.
––––. Looking After Mental Health. ISBN 9798889162445.
––––. Resting. ISBN 9798889162438.
––––. Taking Care of Teeth. ISBN 9798889162414.
––––. Washing Up. ISBN 9798889162407.
ea vol: 24p. (Healthy Habits). Bearport/Bearcub. Jan. 2024. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 1-3–This series about healthy habits invites readers in with short sentences and a friendly, conversational tone. Large type makes for comfortable reading, and the text provides students practice reading words with long- and short-vowel sounds. New vocabulary is boldfaced and defined in the glossary with pronunciation support when the words are introduced. To stimulate lively interest, onomatopoeic words—e.g., “Crunch!” or “Pop!” to replicate the sounds of biting into an apple and popping soap bubbles, respectively---frequently appear. Most importantly, the ways healthy habits can help the body are clearly explained. The text is printed on colorful backgrounds, and excellent, close-up photos of diverse youngsters serve as fine role models of healthy lifestyles. Back matter includes an index and picture glossary, a bibliography, and additional resources accessed through a QR code. VERDICT. This cheerful series encourages healthy habits by demonstrating that they are important, doable, and fun. Recommended for schools and public collections

EMMINIZER, Theresa. I Feel It! ISBN 9781499443295.
––––. I Hear It! ISBN 9781499443325.
––––. I See It! ISBN 9781499443356.
––––. I Smell It! ISBN 9781499443387.
––––. I Taste It! ISBN 9781499443417.
ea vol: 24p. (My Five Super Senses). Rosen/PowerKids. Dec. 2023. Tr. $25.27.
PreS-Gr 1–The body science behind physical experiences and sensations are explored in this series. Simple, clear sentences (one to two per page), large type, and plenty of white space permit easy, comfortable reading. Short and long vowel sounds and frequent sight words will help readers build skills. Onomatopoeic words—“Cheep!”, “Splash!”, e.g.—are used to stimulate interest and to help children understand language can be used to replicate everyday experiences. Individually or in groups, diverse youngsters demonstrate different activities in high-quality full-page photos that correspond well to the text. Each title concludes with a statement about the pertinent sense: “There are so many things to ___!” (see, hear, touch/feel, smell, taste), but there are no follow-up activities or questions for students to check or extend their understanding. VERDICT This very basic series is recommended for preschools and early-reader areas in public libraries.

GOTTLIEB, Beth. I Can Match Around the House. ISBN 9781538291498.
––––. I Can Match At School. ISBN 9781538291528.
––––. I Can Match Colors. ISBN 9781538291559.
––––. I Can Match in the Park. ISBN 9781538291580.
––––. I Can Match Patterns. ISBN 9781538291610.
––––. I Can Match Shapes. ISBN 9781538291641.
ea vol: 24p. (Make a Match!). Gareth Stevens. Dec. 2023. Tr. $24.27.
PreS-Gr 1–With this fine series, young readers will hone both literacy and math skills while practicing matching, seriation, and one-to-one correspondence. The large-type text is very simple—only one sentence per page—and the repetitive, predictable sentence structure aids children in reading and comprehension. The titles open with an exclamatory sentence to heighten interest and excitement: “I can match things in/around/at the/my __!” High-quality full-page color photos face text pages, helping clarify meaning. The final volumes, about patterns and shapes, help students focus on discerning details. Each title concludes with an activity in which students are challenged to select the items that match from a group of images or find patterns and matching shapes. All titles hone visual-literacy skills and encourage readers to be more curious to observe their surroundings. VERDICT This excellent tool is recommended for schools and public libraries.

KLEPEIS, Alicia Z. Cheetahs. ISBN 9798886878028.
––––. Jaguars. ISBN 9798886878035.
––––. Leopards. ISBN 9798886878042.
––––. Lions. ISBN 9798886878059.
––––. Mountain Lions. ISBN 9798886878066.
––––. Tigers. ISBN 9798886878073.
ea vol: 24p. (Wild About Cats!). Bellwether/Blastoff! Readers. Jan. 2024. Tr. $26.95.
K-Gr 3–This fact-filled series about big cats includes lots of interesting information for eager readers. Facts about the animals’ habitats, hunting habits, appearance, social grouping, speed, diet, and development are clearly presented. Each volume identifies the cat’s status on the world’s endangered scale, and almost all these beautiful creatures are identified as at least “vulnerable.” In all cases, the reason is habitat loss and hunting. The series includes great close-up color photos. As needed, labeled arrows point to cats’ specific features, clarifying information in the text. Additionally, each title includes a world map, with the cat’s range noted in red. Of special interest in each volume, especially to cat owners/lovers, is a side-by-side size diagram comparing the height at shoulder and length (without tail) of the big cat to those of a house cat in inches and centimeters. Various diagrams offer information about cats, including conservation status, populations in the wild, population trends, and lifespan. Back matter includes a glossary and an index, a bibliography, and resources for additional information. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public collections. Sensitive students may feel concerned about some hunting scenes, though they’re not gory.

LEATHERLAND, Noah. Numbers at School. ISBN 9781534546332.
––––. Numbers at the Beach. ISBN 9781534546271.
––––. Numbers at the Playground. ISBN 9781534546301.
––––. Numbers in Nature. ISBN 9781534546363.
––––. Numbers in Space. ISBN 9781534546394.
––––. Numbers in Sports. ISBN 9781534546424.
ea vol: 24p. (Number World). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Dec. 2023. Tr. $26.23.
PreS-Gr 1–Young children practice counting while honing visual discrimination skills in this colorful, appealing series. Each title introduces readers to a location, where they are encouraged to count objects specific to that location. The items children must count are shown in silhouette, and the answers are given in dialogue. Number words are set in a different color within sentences to highlight them. The corresponding numbers appear nearby, prominently highlighted in color and set in a larger font. The predictable question-answer format draws readers in and aids reading and comprehension. Some of the settings might be familiar to some readers but not others, which offers an opportunity for vocabulary building. The cartoonish illustrations and cover art are bright and fun. VERDICT This series provides good practice in counting groups, series, and sets, and is recommended for purchase.

LEED, Percy. Cloudy Days. ISBN 9798765608777.
––––. Rainy Days. ISBN 9798765608784.
––––. Snowy Days. ISBN 9798765608791.
––––. Sunny Days. ISBN 9798765608807.
––––. Windy Days. ISBN 9798765608821.
PETERS, Katie. Weather Tech. ISBN 9798765608814.
ea vol: 24p. (Read for a Better World: Read About Weather). Lerner. Jan. 2024. Tr. $29.32.
K-Gr 2–Each of the volumes in this early reader series about weather opens with an “Educator Toolbox” containing questions for teachers/parents to ask children before reading, and tips for guiding them while reading together. Facts about weather conditions are presented clearly and succinctly—what they look like, what can be expected, and what to look for. On some pages, when a new word or concept is introduced, a text box asks students if they’ve seen the phenomenon before. High-quality color photos support and clarify explanations. Questions are posed to young learners throughout to keep them thinking, engaged, and drawing upon life experiences: What do you wear when it rains/when it is snowy? Why does ice cream melt? Why do we sit in the shade when it is sunny? Back matter includes an index, photo glossary, additional questions, and a bibliography. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public library collections.

LONDON, Martha. Black Bear Hibernation. ISBN 9798889162223.
––––. Garter Snake Hibernation. ISBN 9798889162254.
––––. Groundhog Hibernation. ISBN 9798889162247.
––––. Wood Frog Hibernation. ISBN 9798889162230.
ea vol: 24p. (Weather Makes Them Sleep). Bearport/Bearcub. Jan. 2024. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2–Many students already know bears hibernate in winter. This series introduces other animals that take long winter sleeps and explains why and how they prepare for their seasonal rest. Each volume opens with a three-part “Teaching Tips” component for teachers or parents. The series is surprisingly fact filled for this young audience and presents information simply and clearly with three sentences per page. Many endearing, high-quality, full-page photos support the text. A useful feature in each title is a chart summarizing the animal’s hibernation process in the form of a seasonal cycle. An arrow proceeds from one season to the next in a circle, and a labeled description briefly explains how the animal prepares for that season. Back matter includes an index and a picture glossary, a bibliography, and additional digital resources. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public libraries. Expands students’ understanding of hibernation and encourages empathy and understanding for the animals depicted.

RATHBURN, Betsy. Chickens. ISBN 9798886877588.
––––. Cows. ISBN 9798886877595.
––––. Ducks. ISBN 9798886877601.
––––. Turkeys. ISBN 9798886877656.
SABELKO, Rebecca. Goats. ISBN 9798886877618.
––––. Horses. ISBN 9798886877625.
––––. Pigs. ISBN 9798886877632.
––––. Sheep. ISBN 9798886877649.
ea vol: 24p. (Farm Animals). Bellwether/Blastoff! Beginners. Jan. 2024. Tr. $25.95.
K-Gr 2–Each adorable volume opens with an alphabetical list of basic sight words that children will encounter in the book. The sentences are brief and simple, but rich in the information very young readers want to know about farm animals: their distinctive sounds; what they look like; how and what they eat; what their food looks like; and how they live on farms. New words are bolded in the text and defined in a picture glossary, and vocabulary is also built through picture captions and arrows connecting photos and words. Large type and lots of white space make for comfortable reading. High-quality cover art and photographs support the text. People of different genders and ages are depicted doing farm work. Back matter includes an index and picture glossary, a visual recap of the information presented in the book, and resources for additional reading. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public libraries. Young children will learn much from this fine series, as it answers many basic questions about these familiar animals.

THIELGES, Alissa. Anacondas. ISBN 9781645492580.
––––. Blue Morphos. ISBN 9781645492597.
––––. Iguanas. ISBN 9781645492603.
––––. Monkeys. ISBN 9781645492610.
––––. Parrots. ISBN 9781645492627.
––––. Sloths. ISBN 9781645492634.
––––. Toucans. ISBN 9781645492641.
––––. Tree Frogs. ISBN 9781645492658.
ea vol: 16p. (Spot Rainforest Animals). Amicus Learning/Spot. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.40.
PreS-Gr 2–This companion to the “Spot Nature” series by the same publisher follows an identical format. Brief volumes open with a challenge to students to locate four pictures and their corresponding words. In this series, students are asked to find an animal’s body part or something notable about its habitat or lifestyle. Hints and visual clues guide readers to find the objects, with plenty of opportunities for review. Most feature simple sentences, including an exclamatory sentence to stimulate dramatic interest, e.g., “Wow. That snake is huge!” (Anacondas). The text includes common sight words and short- and long-vowel sounds. The series covers a broad range of rainforest creatures, whose habits, habitats, body parts, and lifestyles are explored and explained. The remarkable color photos, whose focus is frequently on the creatures’ habits and lifestyles, are sure to captivate students. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public libraries to promote STEM learning for young students. Hand to animal lovers who’ll learn a lot about some favorite creatures, and meet some new ones, too.

THIELGES, Alissa. In the Desert. ISBN 9781645496434.
––––. In the Forest. ISBN 9781645496441.
––––. In the Ocean. ISBN 9781645496458.
––––. In the Pond. ISBN 9781645496465.
––––. In the Swamp. ISBN 9781645496489.
––––. On the Prairie. ISBN 9781645496472.
ea vol: 16p. (Spot Nature). Amicus Learning/Spot. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.40.
K-Gr 2–This series is a very good, very simple introduction to STEM learning, and to a variety of common environments/biomes, for young learners. Each slim title opens with a challenge for students to find four pictures/items (an environmental feature, an animal, or a plant) and their corresponding labels in the book as they read. The text offers support for readers to find the objects, which show up again in the “Did You Find?” section at the end of each book as extra reinforcement. The photos may be used as a sort of “index” to help students return to the relevant book pages if they wish; otherwise, volumes have no back matter. Each volume employs simple, engaging language that introduces and explains the biome and its distinctive features, landscape, temperature, and other information. It’s also notable for the excellent, eye-catching color photos, with some attention-grabbing close-ups. Students will meet animals, plants, and environments they may be unfamiliar with. VERDICT Recommended for schools and public collections.

“Community Helpers” (North Star/Focus) does a fine job arousing empathy for others in times of need, demonstrating how and why neighbors can help one another. Kids can’t learn too soon to adopt “Healthy Habits” (Bearport/Bearcub), and this series promotes them in a fun and engaging way. Truck and vehicle lovers will be in heaven over The Creative Company’s “Seedlings” series that covers an assortment of familiar and popular “fix-it” vehicles commonly seen in communities. “Spot Nature” and its companion series, “Spot Rainforest Animals,” (Amicus) are fact-filled, beautifully photographed introductions to STEM topics, including global biomes and familiar and lesser-known animals. “Weather Makes Them Sleep,” Bearport’s lively, informative series, introduces a range of animals other than bears that students probably didn’t know hibernate.


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