What isn't as well appreciated is the importance of reading non-fiction to kids as well as the usual fanciful, imaginative, well-illustrated fictional story books.
Kids love to learn about the real world around them, and will generally find carefully selected non-fiction books appropriate for their age level just as engrossing as Dr. Zuess, Where the Wild Things Are, Corduroy, Charlotte's Web, or Goodnight Moon.
Regularly reading fun, accessible nonfiction books (with great pictures, colorful engrossing diagrams, etc.) to young children will stimulate a faculty complementary to, and just as important as, imagination: that of curiosity.
Be prepared to admit your ignorance.
Once their natural curiosity has been sparked you may find your children asking interesting questions about the natural world (Why do clouds fly?), other societies (Why are some people so poor?), and different historical periods (What was it like before cars?).
At those times, straightforward honesty about what you don't know is by far the best response and models humility and respect for truth. "I don't know ... let's look it up!" is an excellent reply to thorny questions.
World Book's Childcraft How and Why Library is a fantastic collection of early nonfiction material for beginning readers (older editions on eBay are just as good and far less expensive).
Basically, kids love doing whatever parents do with them, providing Mom and Dad show genuine enthusiasm, offer plenty of affection, and make it fun ... including reading nonfiction together.
Below are more ideas to get you started:
DK's Big Ideas Series
Five Books Guaranteed to Make Kids Love Science
The Truck Book
First 100 Board Book Set
The Golden Book Encyclopedia
Castle (David MacCaulay)
Goodreads Best Children's Nonfiction
DK Kids Nonfiction
Amazon's Best Selling Science Books for Children
There's No Place Like Space
Children's Books for Teaching Math
Ruth Spiro's Baby Loves Science Series
Chris Ferrie's Baby University Series
The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War
Great Science Books for the Little Ones
Larry Gonick's Cartoon History Series
Place Books by Miroslav Sasek
Jill McDonald's Hello World! Series
100 Best Science Books for Kids
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