A picture of an open book with drawings coming out of it. Text overlay reads, "Eleven Books to Teach Nonfiction Text Features in English and Spanish."

Eleven best FREE books to teach nonfiction text features in English and Spanish 

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I love to teach text features! I love it when my struggling readers and language learners learn to unlock the power of text features to support their reading. Having said that, finding books with a variety of text features to use in the classroom can be quite a task. Although there are many great nonfiction books out there, going through each and every one of them to find the best books to teach nonfiction text features takes a long time. And time is one thing teachers don’t have! So in this blog post, I have compiled a list of my favorite FREE books to teach nonfiction text features in English and Spanish. 

But before we dive into this week’s blog post, have you seen my FREE teaching strategies guide for dual-language teachers? In this guide, I am sharing nine teaching strategies that will help you set your students on a path towards biliteracy and bilingualism. These are strategies you can start implementing immediately and see amazing results. Click here to get your own copy of the free guide. You can thank me later! 

Why should we teach text features in upper elementary? 

Just in case you are asking yourself why you should even bother teaching this skill to your upper elementary students, let’s talk about its benefits. 

Teaching our students to use the pictures, graphics, headings, and other features as they read can support their comprehension in a tremendous way. As a dual-language teacher, I teach language learners. Whether they are learning English or Spanish, using the text features to make predictions and inferences about the text sets them up for success every time. 

Text features also help our students identify the central idea of the text. Generally speaking, authors use these features to call attention to the most important details in the text. Therefore, teaching our students to hone in on the pictures, diagrams, and other features can help them focus on the key details. 

The best way to teach this strategy in upper elementary 

In one of my previous blog posts, I outlined my entire routine for teaching text features. You can click here to read that post. Ultimately, the best way to teach text features is to model to students how to extract as much information as we can without reading the body of the text. This will help students see just how much information they can gather by simply focusing on the text and graphic features. 

A picture of some picture books piled up on a desk. Text overlay reads, "Best Books to teach text features."
Looking for the best books to teach text features that you can access for free? Read the blog post to learn more…

Best FREE books to teach nonfiction text features in English 

In order to compile a list of books to teach text features that you can access completely FREE, I will be using the website GetEpic.com. Epic is a website with thousands of children’s books completely free for teachers. Students can also use it for free during school hours using a class code. 

  1. Volcanoes by Anne Schreiber (National Geographic Kids)

National Geographic Kids books are an amazing resource to teach any nonfiction skill. In fact, you will see a few more of their books mentioned in the blog post. However, the reason why I chose this book as a great option to teach this particular reading skill is because of the variety of text features included. From amazing pictures to labeled diagrams, maps, and a picture glossary, this book will give you plenty of opportunities to talk about text features and their importance in nonfiction. 

Furthermore, I love this book because the topic is very interesting to our students. And although they find volcanoes fascinating, they don’t often know a lot about them. This is really helpful because we want students to lean into the text features to make inferences about the text. This book really checks all the boxes for me. 

  1. Everything Vikings by Nadia Higgins (National Geographic Kids) 

Another great book by National Geographic Kids! Be warned that the reading level in this book is a bit higher. However, I find that even my lower readers can handle this since we are only focusing on the text features. This is also a longer book. Whenever I use this in my classroom, we only look at some of the pages. I love the timeline on pages 13 and 14, the map on pages 17 and 18, and the diagram on pages 19 and 20. 

Your students will love learning more about the Vikings using the text features included in this book. 

  1. Mars by Elizabeth Carney (National Geographic Kids) 

My students love anything space-related. This book includes some great examples of text features that you don’t always find in other texts. I especially love the table on page 6, the timeline on pages 20 and 21, and the timeline on pages 36 – 39. 

  1. Meteors by Melissa Stewart (National Geographic Kids) 

This book has some amazing diagrams. I love examining a diagram with my students and trying to learn as much as we can from it. My favorites are on pages 10, 15-16, 18, and 22. Aside from these diagrams, this book also includes other text features commonly found on National Geographic Kids’ books such as pictures, a table of contents, and a glossary. 

  1. Emperor Penguins by Michael Molnar 

This book has an incredible variety of text features making it a perfect choice for teaching this skill. I especially love pages  6-9. From text boxes to labeled diagrams and maps, you could teach an entire lesson on those four pages only. Your students will learn so much about emperor penguins and text features! 

A picture of three kids reading books. Text overlay reads, "Best free books that teach text features in English and Spanish."
Sometimes it can be hard to find the best books that teach text features, especially in Spanish. This is why I have compiled this list of eleven books that you can access for free!

Best FREE books to teach text features in Spanish 

  1. La biodiversidad by Carla Mooney

This book has an incredible variety of text features, and the pictures are absolutely stunning. I often use this book to show students examples of text boxes, and how authors use them to draw our attention to important information and interesting facts. 

  1. El clima y el tiempo by Carla Mooney

Every page in this book is jam-packed with examples of text features. There is so much opportunity for discussion and learning with this book. In addition, the topic of this book is often very interesting to students. My students love to learn about tornadoes, hurricanes, and snowstorms. 

  1. Las montañas by Thomas Sheehan 

This is another great alternative to teach text features. My favorite thing about this book is that the author included satellite images of mountain ranges. This is not a common feature in most books, so I like to take a few moments to show it to my students and explain what they are. 

  1. La tierra y la importancia del agua by Shirley Duke 

If you have to choose only one book in Spanish to use in your classroom, choose this one! The topic is engaging and the text features are phenomenal. Students will learn so much from the diagrams and maps in this book. I especially like the diagram on page 22 that shows how a hydroelectric plant works. 

  1. Know it Alls! Volcanes by Christopher Nicholas and Kenn Goin 

This is a great book to add to your nonfiction repertoire. One of the most interesting things about this book is that the entire book is illustrated, which can lead some students to think it is fiction. I like to show these types of books to students whenever we learn about nonfiction texts to demonstrate to them that illustrations alone are not enough to determine if a book is fiction or nonfiction. This book also includes some great text features, such as the diagram of a volcano on page 6 and the graph on page 14. 

  1. El sistema digestivo by Krystyna Poray Goddu

For some reason, my students really enjoy this book. This book is one of the few I could find that has a sidebar. Aside from that, this book also has a lot of other great diagrams and a great graph on pages 16 and 17. 

A picture of a pile of books on a desk. Text overlay reads, "Eleven best nonfiction books to teach text features."
These are my favorite nonfiction books to teach text features in upper elementary!

Final thoughts 

There you have it! Eleven best books to teach nonfiction text features that you can use in your classroom for free. Which of these books will you be using with your students? Let me know down below. 

Also, don’t forget to download my FREE guide with nine teaching strategies for dual-language teachers. It’s a must-have! Click here to get your own copy.

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Hi, I'm Rebeca!

I help upper elementary dual language teachers with resources and ideas that promote bilingualism and biliteracy.  

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.

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