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School has begun and with it lots of learning! Here are two terrific new creative nonfiction picture books to help kids learn about anything from bridge building to volcanoes erupting. Engaging writing and creative approaches are sure to promote a love of learning.

  • “Someone Builds the Dream” (2021, Dial Books for Young Readers, written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Loren Long, ages 4-8) tells us, “All across this great big world jobs are getting done/By many hands in many lands. It takes much more than one.”

Long’s detailed, realistic illustrations glow with a warm, child-friendly perspective and show construction workers approaching a worksite with backhoe and shovels.

We first meet an architect who draws and measures to create a woodsy, warm home.

“But …” we turn the page to read, “Someone works to guide the saws, plane the logs, lead the team.” Another page turn leads us to the refrain … “Someone needs to pound the nails. Someone has to build the dream.”

Next, we meet an engineer designing a bridge, working on a large blackboard surrounded by models of many types of bridges. We turn the page to see workers mining ore, pouring the beams and welding the steel. This segment ends again with the refrain, “Someone has to build the dream.”

The book goes on following the same pattern as we meet an artist who designs a fountain and the workers who build it, to a scientist who aims for cleaner energy and the workers who are constructing the wind towers, to amusement park designers and builders.

Last, we meet the author who “thought up something new” and the illustrator who “planned and drew,” followed by the workers who set the text and ran the press. “Someone had to make THIS book! Someone had to build this dream.”

This powerful book gives children a true appreciation of the teams of workers who form the backbone of our country! Ending with this verse, which truly brings its message home for readers, the book says, “So when you see a bicycle, a playground, house, or shoe, remember all the someones who helped make a dream come true.”

  • Another nonfiction book about the natural world, “Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature” (2021, Millbrook Press, Cynthia Argentine, ages 3-7) brings in the reader with bright photos of fruits and flowers as the text tells us, “Nature is always at work, TRANSFORMING.”

With a page turn, we begin to examine nature’s changes. “Some changes are SMALL, like footprints disappearing in the sand. SWOOSH! The wave retreats. They’re gone. Other changes are BIG like a giant canyon.” The child-friendly text goes on to give a brief explanation of how the canyon was formed.

The book continues, working with opposites combined with stunning photos, to talk about how change can be QUICK (pumpkin tendrils wrapping around rope), but is most often SLOW (an acorn becoming a tree). Change can BRIGHTEN (a desert bursts into bloom) or DULL (leaves die and decompose). Change happens ABOVE (clouds forming) and BELOW (mineral spires forming in caves). Change can be HOT (a volcano erupting!) or COLD (glaciers moving), and ANCIENT (forming diamonds) or NEW (forming snowflakes).

With each spread, energetic and accessible explanations give just the right amount of information to engage a young child and pique their interest in nature’s processes. Both of these books show the excitement and fun in learning new things and opening up new worlds to young readers!

Alice B. McGinty ( is the award-winning author of almost 50 books for children and is celebrating the release of her new pre-school-friendly book, “Step by Step” (illustrated by Diane Goode, published by Simon and Schuster).

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