15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2020

This is one of the categories I do that has a mix of ages, since I don’t read a lot of nonfiction overall. Here are my picks for the best nonfiction of 2020:

All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing by Chris Barton, illustrated by Nicole Xu (9781541526693)

Barton writes with such empathy here. He allows the story to be told in all of its anguish and pain, and yet makes sure that hope has its place there as well.

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood (9780763691561)

Two Coretta Scott King winners collaborate to create this powerful book about courage, resilience and freedom.

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shinizu (9781984813787)

Readers will celebrate his victories with him on the pages, marveling at how one person could help so many.

Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini 

In their personal stories, the authors make it alright to make mistakes, take responsibility and continue to move forward. 

Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky

Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad (9780593116296)

Throughout the book, there is a merry sense of adventure, acknowledgement of the dangers, and a deep appreciation for life on the road.

Honeybee The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann (9780823442850)

A great science and nature book, there’s plenty of buzz about this one!

How to Solve a Problem The Rise and Falls of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi, illustrated by Yao Xiao (9781524773274)

“…each step is executed in front of the reader where they can feel the muscle strain, see the skill that Ashima uses, and also use the approach of falling and learning from those falls, to dust off and try again.

If You Want a Friend in Washington by Erin McGill

If You Want a Friend in Washington by Erin McGill (9780593122693)

Humorous and historical, this glimpse of president’s best friend is a treat.

Jumbo The Making of the Boeing 747 by Chris Gall

Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 by Chris Gall (9781250155801)

Get ready for a dramatic take off!

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The Next President by Kate Messner, illustrated by Adam Rex (9781452174884)

Inviting, interesting and invigorating.

Oil by Jonah Winter

Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (9781534430778)

The book is a mixture of tragedy and a call to action.

The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora (9781524768287)

Beautifully, the book doesn’t need to lecture on any of those values, Mary’s life simply speaks on its own.

This Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges (9780593378526)

“One of the most important books of the year, this brings history and future together in one cry for justice.”

Your Place in the Universe by Jason Chin (9780823446230)

A marvel of a nonfiction book, it invites us to understand our size in the universe but also how amazing the universe actually is.

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (9781580896863)

Burns offers such a merry invitation to readers in this book, making it feel like a true celebration of insects that we often take for granted or don’t even think about. 

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