Children’s Non-Fiction Books

The Common Core State Standards for language arts emphasize nonfiction texts. Here’s a list to get you started.

Recess at 20 Below                                                                                                                                   

by Cindy Aillaud (2005)                                                                                                                                     

Photographs of Alaskan schoolchildren dressing for winter recess and their games and recess activities accompanied by simple text. While on a reading level for ages 5-10, older students enjoy the book of a recess very different from their own.  Ages 5 and older                                                                                    

Dogs of the North
by Alaska Geographic Society (Vol 14, No 1, 1987)
Alaskan working dogs and their history are detailed in this reference book, which includes photographs and biographies of sled dogs and mushers.

The Double Life of an Alaskan Sled Dog by Andrea “Finney” Aufder Heyde (2012)                                                                                                                              Written by the first Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™, this book tells the story of Finney’s sled dog, Annui, and their sled dog kennel adventures and classroom adventures. Any Grade Level would enjoy hearing this story or reading this book. Upper elementary, middle grades

Journey into the Arctic
by Bryan & Cherry Alexander (2003)
Beautiful color photographs and well-designed pages take readers on a dogsled tour of life in the Arctic.
Grades 1 – 5

Meet Lydia: A Native Girl from Southeast Alaska
by Miranda Belarde-Lewis (2004)
One of the My World: Young Native Americans Today series, this book explores the life of Tlingit girl Lydia Mills and the history and culture of her tribe.
Ages 9 – 12

Life in the Arctic
by Sheldon Brooks (2004)
Brooks defines the Arctic, and tells how life survives in this extreme environment.
Ages 9 – 12

Children of the Midnight Sun: Young Native Voices of Alaska

by Tricia Brown (1998, 2007)
Named a “Best Book of the Year” (1998) by both Parenting Magazine and School Library Journal, Children of the Midnight Sun profiles the lives of eight Native American Alaskan children and includes photographs by Roy Corral.
Grades 3 – 7

Iditarod Country: Exploring the Route of the Last Great Race
by Tricia Brown (1998)
Brown and photographer Jeff Schultz introduce readers to the people and history at the checkpoints along the Iditarod Trail.
Grade 6 and up

Born to Pull

by Bob Carey (1999)
With illustrations by Gail de Marcken, author Carey introduces dog mushing and life on the trail, emphasizing the bond between musher and dog.
Ages 4 – 8

The Adventures of Balto
By Patricia Chargot (2006)
Chargot allows the reader to gain a richer understanding about Balto and the role he played in the 1925 Serum Run.
Grades 5 and up

The Story of Seward’s Folly
by Susan Clinton (1987)
Clinton examines the controversy over Secretary of State William Seward’s 1867 push to purchase Alaska from Russia.
Grades 3 – 6

Racing Sled Dogs: An Original North American Sport
by Michael Cooper (1988)
The author chronicles the history of sled dog racing in North America, including sections on training methods and the world of amateur and professional racing.
Grades 4 – 6

Racing the Iditarod Trail
by Ruth Crisman (1993)
This is a detailed account of the Iditarod from 1973 – 1992.
Grades 4 – 6

Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail
by Ellen M. Dolan (1993)
The inspiring story of Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod winner, superb athlete, and gifted dog trainer, is told in this biography.
Grades 3 – 6

Arctic Memories
by Normee Ekoomiak (1988)
Ekoomiak, an Inuit who grew up in Quebec, describes in this autobiography a now vanishing way of life.  The book’s text is in both Inuktitut and English.
Grades 4 – 6

Big-Enough Anna: The Little Sled Dog Who Braved the Arctic
By Pam Flowers with Ann Dixon (2003)
A true story about how the runt of the litter became the lead sled dog.
Ages 4 – 8

Douggie: The Playful Pup Who Became a Sled Dog Hero
by Pam Flowers
Flowers pays tribute to the class-clown puppy who, with patient training, became the lead dog for a 325-mile expedition to the Magnetic North Pole.
Ages 9 – 12

Living in the Arctic
by Allan Fowler (2000)
One of the “Rookie Read-About Geography” series.
Ages 4 – 8

Arctic Son
by Jean Craighead George (1997 – out of print)
This picture book chronicles the birth and early years of George’s grandson Luke, who lives in Barrow, Alaska, and learns of the Inupiat Eskimo culture.
Grades K – 3

The Big Caribou Herd: Life in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
by Bruce Hiscock (2008)
The author-illustrator follows a herd of Caribou through the year, presenting to his life in the Alaskan wilderness.
Grades 2 – 5

Arctic Hunter
by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith (1992)
A ten-year old Inupiat boy and his family journey to their spring hunting and fishing camp north of the Arctic Circle.
Grades 4 – 6


by Shelley Gill (2007)
Gill offers a basic introduction to Alaska using facts, poetry, and native lore.
Grades 4 to 7

Up on Denali: Alaska’s Wild Mountain
by Shelley Gill (2006)
In this picture book, Shelley covers all aspects of the unique ecosystem which comprises the tallest mountain in North America – Denali, also known as Mt. McKinley.
Grades 2 – 4

Alaska’s Dog Heroes: True Stories of Remarkable Canines by Shelley Gill  (2014)                                                                                                                         True canine stories from Alaska including Balto, Togo, Tekla and more. Ages 6-9

Keep On!  The Story of Matthew Henson Co-Discoverer of the North Pole
by Deborah Hopkinson (2009)
This picture book biography of Matthew Henson features the importance of sled dogs to the mission.
Ages 9 – 12

I, Matthew Henson–Polar Explorer by Carole Boston Weatherford (2008)                                                                                                               

Written in first person lyrical verse with strong illustrations, this book tells the life story of Matthew Henson, an African American man who accompanied Peary to the North Pole.  Grades K-5

Alaska (Hello USA)
by Joyce Johnston (1996, 2001)
This introduction to the 50th state includes its history, geography, economy and people.
Ages 9 – 12

Dog Heroes:  True Stories about Extraordinary Animals Around the World

by Tim Jones (1995)
This collection of true stories about famous dogs from around the world, including Serum Run leaders Balto and Togo, is illustrated by Alaskan artist and Iditarod racer Jon Van Zyle.
Grades 4 – 6

Life in the Far North
by Bobbie Kalman and Rebecca Sjonger (2004)
Each two-page spread is its own chapter on an aspect of life in the Far North, the area of land and water north of the Arctic Circle.  The book includes a table of contents, a glossary, and an index.
Ages 9 – 12

The Story of Admiral Peary at the North Pole
by Zachary Kent (1988)
With illustrations and historic photographs, Kent tells the true story of Peary’s quest to become the first person to reach the North Pole.
Grades 4 – 6

Snow Baby: The Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary’s Daring Daughter
by Katherine Kirkpatrick (2007)
Kirkpatrick’s in-depth research and use of historical photographs tell the story of Admiral Peary’s daughter, whose birth and life in the arctic shocked Victorian society and earned her the name “Snow Baby” from the Inuit.
Grades 4 – 8

Adventure in Alaska

by Sydelle A. Kramer (1993)
One of the Read to Believe It series, this is a biographical account of Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod.
Grades 3 – 4

Champion of Alaskan Huskies: Joe Redington, Sr., Father of the Iditarod  by Katie Mangelsdorf (2011)                                                                                        An adventure Biography of Joe Redington, Sr.’s life.  Middle grades through adult

Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest    By Hope Irvin Marston –  Follow eleven-year-old Aisling as she conquers obstacles, deals with heartbreak and loss, and achieves great victories–all while keeping her eye on the Iditarod. Based on a true story of a young girl, Aisling Shepherd, her first 5 years of mushing, and  her dream of racing in Iditarod. Book study

Wild Hearts, Dog Sledding the Rockies
by Dagny McKinle
Book full of dynamic and spectacular photographs of sled dogs living in Colorado, text provides information about a dog’s life at a sled dog kennel and how the dogs affect the lives of the humans who live and work with them.
All ages

Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights
by Debbie S. Miller (2003)
Miller records the changing Arctic light from one summer solstice to the next, and the way in which animals continually adapt to the changing light each month of the year.  The book includes an excellent introduction and glossary.
Ages 6 – 9

The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail
by Debbie S. Miller (2002)
A picture book for older children, this well-researched account of the 1925 serum run to Nome includes illustrations by Jon Van Zyle, Iditarod musher and official Iditarod artist.
Grades 2 – 6

Big Alaska: Journey Across America’s Most Amazing State
By Debbie S. Miller (2006)
Travel across Alaska’s extraordinary landscapes through the eyes of a bald eagle, learning about state symbols, climate records, and Alaska’s special places.
Grades 2 – 4

The Inuits
by Shirlee P. Newman (1993)
With text and photographs, Newman presents the history and culture of the Inuits.
Grades 4 – 6

A Child’s Alaska   by Claire Rudolf Murphy (1994)                                                                                                                                                                                       Photographs and text introduce the reader to Alaska year round, its native peoples, landforms, wildlife, lifestyles and climate. Provides background information for a study of Alaska.  Grades 2-5

Crimp!  On-By!!  The True Story of a Most Unlikely Iditarod Lead Dog
By Liz Parrish and Jan Kelley
Crimp overcame obstacles to become a lead dog on Liz’s 2008 Iditarod Team.  Important  facts about the race, mushing, and dogs are included in the book.  Appropriate for all ages.

by Gary Paulsen (2001)
Paulsen tells of the hardships he faced in various life adventures, including the extremes of exhaustion and cold he knew in running the Iditarod, and how he used these lessons in his Hatchet books.
Grades 5 and up

My Life in Dog Years
by Gary Paulsen (1998)
Paulsen tells of eight dogs which have had a special place in his life.
Grades 4 and up

Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers: Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs
by Gary Paulsen (1996, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2008)
Paulsen recounts his special relationship with his lead dog Cookie.
Grades 4 – 6

Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race

by Libby Riddles (1996, 2001)
As the first woman to win the Iditarod, Libby Riddles details what inspired her to train for the race, and what it took to win in 1985.
Grades 2 – 5

Sled Dogs: Arctic Athletes

By Elizabeth Ring (1994)
Ring explains the history, training and care of the breeds typically uses as sled dogs.
Grades 1 – 3

Getting Ready to Race
By Susan Ring (1999)
This book provides an introduction to mushing.
Grades 1 – 3

SoloFlite: An Alaskan Puppy Becomes a Legend
by Marianne Schlegelmilch (2002)
A lost puppy, given a home at a kennel in Fairbanks, becomes an Iditarod legend.
Ages 4 – 8

Dogs of the Iditarod
by Jeff Schultz (2003)
A well-written and beautifully illustrated overview of the Iditarod, showcasing the amazing dogs that make it possible.
Grades 3 – 6

Dashing Through the Snow: The Story of the Junior Iditarod

by Sherry Shahan (1997)
With a course map, list of mandatory equipment and review of mushing terminology, this book follows the 150 journey of the Junior Iditarod.
Grades 4 – 6

Mush: Across Alaska in the World’s Longest Sled-Dog Race
by Patricia Siebert (1992)
Siebert’s overview of the Iditarod includes a brief history of Alaska.
Grades 3 – 5

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

by Alexandra Say (1991)
One of the Circle of Life Series, this book explores the plant and animal life of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the Alaskan tundra.
Grades 3 – 6

Eskimos: The Inuit of the Arctic
by J. H. Greg Smith (1987)
A history of the culture and the people.
Grades 3 – 6

The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto
by Natalie Standiford (1989)
The story of the 1925 serum race to Nome is told in this Step Into Reading book.
Grades 1 – 3

Over the Top of the World: Explorer Will Steger’s Trek Across the Arctic
by Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster (1997)
Steger tells of his 1994 expedition traveling by dogsled and canoe-sled over the top of the world.
Grades 4 – 7

The Race to Nome:  Alaska’s Heroic Race to Save Lives
by Kenneth A. Ungermann (1963)
Factual account of Balto, Togo, and how man helped man to beat the Diphtheria Epidemic.
Grades 2 and up

Susan Butcher: Sled Dog Racer

by Ginger Wadsworth (1994)
A biographical profile of the four-time Iditarod champion and her dogs as they face the rigors of Alaska’s great race.
Grades 4 – 7

Clueless in Alaska: Know More! An Activity Book Filled with Puzzles, Fun Facts, Games and Jokes
by Jen Funk Weber (2006)
Learning about Alaska is made fun in this full-color, photo-illustrated activity book.
Ages 9 – 12

Foxy’s Tale: The True Story of a Champion Alaskan Sled Dog

by Ed White and Donna Freedman (1995)
Foxy, the runt of the litter who has a life-threatening accident and then is stolen, becomes a champion in the Junior World Championships.  Book review
Grades 3 – 6

Snow Dogs! Racers of the North
by Ian Whitelaw (2008)
This DK Reader introduces children to sled dog racing, and what it takes to be the leader of the pack.
Ages 9 – 12

Northern Lights (Science Matters)

by David Whitfield (2006)
An introductory overview of the science, technology, and myths related to the Northern Lights.
Ages 9 – 12

Iditarod Dream: Dusty and His Sled Dogs Compete in Alaska’s Junior Iditarod
by Ted Wood (1996)
This photo-essay tells the true story of 15-year-old Dusty Whittemore, as he and his dogs prepare for, run and win the Junior Iditarod.
Grades 3 – 5   Book review

Nigel’s Choice (2011)
By Nancy Yoshida – The true story of Yoshida’s 2009 Iditarod, told from Nigel’s, one of her sled dogs, perspective.  Upper Elementary and  Middle School ages




Note: Grade or age recommendations are based on the information provided at