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For the Love of Non-fiction: Using Kids Books to Enhance Real Life Experiences

Welcome to the June Virtual Book Club for Kids!  Each month, we choose a different author and highlight their books along with some fun activities.

And I’m so excited for this month’s author because she is one of my favorite for kids — Gail Gibbons!


Using Non-fiction Books to Engage Kids

Ms. Gibbons writes non-fiction books for kids.  Wait, let me restate that — Ms. Gibbons writes AMAZING non-fiction books that kids LOVE to read!  Yes, much better.

She has a gift for taking all types of topics and making them appealing and understandable for children.  We use her books any time we are exploring a new topic or interest.  And both of my kids have enjoyed books by Gail Gibbons from preschool through elementary school. 

Her ability to include engaging information along with fun details make her books one of our top 5 go-to reads for non-fiction literature. 

Let me give you a few examples of how we use the books.  Both of my kids were very interested in sea life and sea animals when they were younger so we planned some visits to aquariums.  Before we headed out, we made sure to read some Gail Gibbons books:



And each fall, we go apple picking to a local orchard.  When you introduce your child to a new activity, you’ll realize they will have lots of questions (some of which are easy to answer and others require a little research).  Apples is a great book for answering a whole slew of questions that arise.


I also rely on these books when my kids are interested in a location that we aren’t able to visit or a topic that may not be easy to explain to them.  A great example is the book Tornadoes!  We live in Kansas (in Tornado Alley) so these storms are just a part of life here.  Of course, the kids have a lot of questions since we go through tornado drills each spring but since we hope to never experience a tornado, we’ll find out answers in a book.


And this weekend when we decided to make our own ice cream, we grabbed Ice Cream: The Full Scoop to read more about some of the behind-the-scenes details of who ‘invented’ ice cream and how it’s made.


We had a great time making a few of our favorite flavors of ice cream and all you’ll need is some milk, ice, rock salt, vanilla flavoring, plastic bags and a few of your favorite add-ins.

First, we used this basic recipe for homemade ice cream from for our base.  This will create a basic vanilla flavored ice cream/ice milk.  But we wanted to mix it up a little so we tried making 3 new kinds:  peanut butter, maple and caramel.

For the peanut butter, we added 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter to the recipe – it came out great!

For the maple, we added 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup and cut the sugar in half.  It was ok but I think the next time we make it, we’ll keep the same amount of sugar.

And for the caramel, we used brown sugar instead of regular sugar.  Not a big hit – kind of tasted like regular vanilla.

 Making Homemade Ice Cream

The best part of making homemade ice cream is all the fun shaking you get to do once you put the mixture into a larger bag filled with ice and rock salt.  One tip:  I would use a heavy duty freezer bag — we used a regular storage bag and a few of them ripped and leaked.

This was a great summer activity to pair with the book and we learned some new facts too.

So the next time your kids are interested in a topic, head to the library and see if Gail Gibbons has written a book on the subject.  I’m sure you’ll learn something new and will want to check out more of her great books!




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Here are more great ideas for connecting Gail Gibbon’s work with hands-on activities for kids!