Texas Topaz Nonfiction List for Grades K-12

Here are just some of the 57 recommended titles for grades K-12 from the 2024 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List! The purpose of the Texas Topaz Reading List is to provide children, teens, and adults with recommended nonfiction titles that stimulate reading for pleasure and personal learning. It is intended for recreational reading and is not designed to support any particular curriculum. Visit txla.org/topaz for the full list and lists from previous years.

Updated February 9, 2024
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Battle of the butts : the science behind animal behinds
Rish, Jocelyn
Butts are funny, but they're also useful! Humans use their butts for two primary functions--sitting and pooping. It's the same for most other animals. However, some species have adapted to use their backsides in several surprising ways. Did you know manatees swim using farts? Or that herrings...
Caves
Beckerman, Nell Cross
A masterful exploration of one of nature's most curious ecosystems, Caves is a magical journey into subterranean wonders perfect for fans of Jason Chin. In the shade of the woods is a hill with a hole. Beaconing black. Goosebump chills. Excitement and fear battle. What will win?...
Dogs : a history of our best friends
Judge, Lita
This illustrated history of dogs, from award-winning author-illustrator Lita Judge, explores how humans' partnership with dogs changed our lives and theirs Of all the animals on the planet, dogs have the widest range of roles in our daily lives. They're protectors, helpers,...
Glitter everywhere! : where it came from, where it's found & where it's going
Barton, Chris
Fans of How It's Made will love this fresh, irreverent look at the science and story behind glitter. If you love glitter, this book is for you. If you hate glitter, this book is also for you. Everyone seems to have an opinion about glitter. But how much...
How do you spell unfair? : MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee
Weatherford, Carole Boston
A Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book "This moving picture book portrays a girl who met injustice with dignity and excelled."--Booklist (starred review) From a multi-award-winning pair comes a deeply affecting portrait of...
How to make a book (about my dog)
Barton, Chris
How do you make a picture book? Well, you need an author, an illustrator, and . . . a dog?!Acclaimed author Chris Barton and his trusty pooch Ernie show readers how to make a nonfiction picture book . . . about Ernie! From coming up with ideas, researching, and writing a first draft to finding the...
How to promenade with a python (and not get eaten)
Poliquin, Rachel
Celeste is a cockroach, and everyone knows that cockroaches are survivors, so who better to give advice on surviving an encounter with a polite predator? Everyone also knows that taking a moonlit promenade with a deadly reticulated python (named Frank) is a very bad idea. Using her superior...
Ice cream man : how Augustus Jackson made a sweet treat better
Armand, Glenda
Discover the inspiring story of Augustus Jackson, an African American entrepreneur who is known as "the father of ice cream," in this beautifully illustrated picture-book biography. Augustus Jackson was born in 1808 in Philadelphia. While most African Americans were enslaved at...
Contenders : two Native baseball players, one World Series
Sorell, Traci
The true story of John Meyers and Charles Bender, who in 1911 became the first two Native pro baseball players to face off in a World Series. This picture book teaches important lessons about resilience, doing what you love in the face of injustice, and the fight for Native American...
Where to start : a survival guide to anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges
Correll, Gemma
A comforting and useful resource for anyone who's struggling emotionally and looking for help―from the nation's leading community-based nonprofit that addresses the needs of those living with mental illness It can be extremely hard to figure out what's going on in our own...
Hardcourt : stories from 75 years of the National Basketball Association
Bowen, Fred
Celebrate seventy-five years of the NBA in this exciting and beautifully illustrated middle grade account of the legendary athletes, coaches, and teams that changed basketball forever and created a national phenomenon enjoyed by millions today. The National Basketball Association...
Survival scout : lost in the mountains
Eaton, Maxwell, III
Scout's woe is your gain in the first of the SURVIVAL SCOUT graphic novel series, where Scout endures natural disasters so we don't have to. Stay calm, and Scout it out! 1) Take inventory of what you have 2) Find shelter 3) Make a fire 4) Signal...
Whale fall : exploring an ocean-floor ecosystem
Stewart, Melissa
This fascinating nonfiction picture book filled with stunning illustrations details the end of life for a whale, also known as a whale fall, when its body sinks to the ocean floor and becomes an energy-rich food source for organisms living in the deep sea. When a whale dies,...
A first time for everything : a true story
Santat, Dan
*Winner of the 2023 National Book Award for Young People's Literature* A middle grade graphic memoir based on bestselling author and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's awkward middle school years and the trip to Europe that changed his life. Dan's always been...
A long time coming : a lyrical biography of race in America from Ona Judge to Barack Obama
Shepard, Ray Anthony
This YA biography-in-verse of six important Black Americans from different eras, including Ona Judge, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama, chronicles the diverse ways each fought racism and shows how much--and how little--has changed for...
Mexikid : a graphic memoir
Martin, Pedro
NEWBERY HONOR AWARD WINNER * An unforgettable graphic memoir about a Mexican American boy's family and their adventure-filled road trip to bring their abuelito back from Mexico "One of those books that kids will pass to their friends as soon as they have finished it."-...
The Mona Lisa vanishes : a legendary painter, a shocking heist, and the birth of a global celebrity
Day, Nick
A "witty thriller" (The New York Times) for middle-grade readers about how the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre, how the robbery made the portrait the most famous artwork in the world--and how the painting by Leonardo da Vinci should never have existed at all. ...
Money out loud : all the financial stuff no one taught us
Anat, Berna
So no one taught you about money, either Let's figure this me$$ out together.  In this illustrated, deeply unserious guide to money, Berna Anat--aka the Financial Hype Woman--freaks out her immigrant parents by doing the unthinkable: Talking about money. Loudly....
Spearhead : an American tank gunner, his enemy, and a collision of lives in World War II
Makos, Adam
THE NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, LOS ANGELES TIMES, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER  "A band of brothers in an American tank . . . Makos drops the reader back into the Pershing's turret and dials up a battle scene to rival the peak moments of...
Family style : memories of an American from Vietnam
Pham, Thien
A moving young adult graphic memoir about a Vietnamese immigrant boy's search for belonging in America, perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and The Best We Could Do! Thien's first memory isn't a sight or a sound. It's the sweetness of watermelon and the...
Home is calling : the journey of the monarch butterfly
Pryor, Katherine
Join the monarchs as they embark on a transcontinental journey home in this moving story about migration. As the sun dawns in Canada, a flutter of monarch butterflies take flight, ready to begin their months-long journey to their ancestral home in Mexico. The...
The animal toolkit : how animals use tools
Jenkins, Steve
Did you know animals can use tools In this fascinating book by award-winning pair Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, we learn all about what makes a tool a tool and the remarkable ways animals can use them to find food, protect their young, and more. Until 1960, when Jane Goodall...
The fastest girl on Earth! : meet Kitty O'Neil, daredevil driver!
Robbins, Dean
Gear up for this high-powered picture book biography about Kitty O'Neil, the stuntwoman and racecar driver who broke the women's land speed record! Kitty O'Neil was a force to be reckoned with. She became deaf as a child, and grew up loving sports and action. Kitty jumped, ran,...
The little spacecraft that could : New Horizons' amazing journey to Pluto and Arrokoth
Lapin, Joyce
Ride along with the New Horizons spacecraft as she rockets three billion miles to Pluto! Watch her take the first close-up photos of Pluto, and then journey another billion miles to mini-world Arrokoth. You'll whiz through space at more than 10 miles per second; learn how giant planet Jupiter helped...
Race against death : the greatest POW rescue of World War II
Hopkinson, Deborah
A thrilling account of the most daring American P.O.W. rescue mission of World War II. Scholastic Focus is the premier home of thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and thoughtfully designed works of narrative nonfiction aimed at middle-grade and young adult readers. These books help...
A face for Picasso : coming of age with Crouzon syndrome
Henley, Ariel
A Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book for Teens "Raw and unflinching . . . A must-read!" --Marieke Nijkamp, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends "[It] cuts to the heart of our bogus ideas of beauty." -Scott Westerfeld,...
You: the story : a writer's guide to craft through memory
Sepetys, Ruta
The nonfiction debut by #1 New York Times bestselling and Carnegie Medal-winning author Ruta Sepetys. Perfect for fans of Burn After Writing and Bird by Bird. Life is story in motion. Each day, you add to your story, revise it, and view it from a different...
Braiding sweetgrass for young adults : indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants
Kimmerer, Robin Wall
Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things--from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen--provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young...
Work with what you got
Clark, Zion
Elite wheelchair racer, wrestler, and America's Got Talent contestant Zion Clark joins with New York Times best-selling author James S. Hirsch for a stunning memoir--recounting childhood adversity, awe-inspiring perseverance, and self-invention. When a baby named...

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