8 Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books for Teaching Cause and Effect

Are you constantly looking for different fiction and nonfiction books for teaching cause and effect to your elementary students? Teaching about story elements such as cause and effect, main idea, character traits, problem and solution and comparing/ contrasting are very important. I’ve compiled a list of 8 awesome fiction and nonfiction picture books for teaching cause and effect to make your life simpler.


Teaching children about cause and effect develops critical thinking skills important for all ages of children — from the 3-year-old deciding not to run across the street to the 11-year-old deciding how to handle peer pressure. Picture books are an especially great way to teach about this concept because the illustrations support the meaning of the text and show cause and effect in action. 

Start with a picture walk to open a discussion around the key cause and effect moments. Reinforce to students that CAUSE is WHY something happened, and EFFECT is WHAT happened. The books below are some great choices for teaching cause and effect as a story element to your students using both fiction and nonfiction picture books for elementary students.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin (or any books in this series written by Laura Numeroff)

Give students an item from the classroom or library and have them write about it with the same pattern that the book follows. “If you give Michael a pencil, he will ____________.” Then it can become a class book or great bulletin board display.

No, David! written by David Shannon

This book is simple yet effective for children. With colorful illustrations and simply the words, “No David” on each page, students can understand what David should NOT be doing. 

After reading, using the pictures, the children can tell what is happening to David in their own language and practice using the simple sight words you have introduced. This book is perfect for teaching about cause and effect to younger students in preschool, kindergarten and first grade. Read another favorite by David Shannon- David Goes to School when you are teaching procedures at the beginning of the year.

Stuck written by Oliver Jeffers

What will Floyd do when his kite gets stuck in a tree? Try to get his kite out, of course! Using classic kid logic, Floyd attempts to knock the kite out of the tree — by throwing seemingly random things at it, which also get stuck. This hilarious story will keep your kids guessing what he’ll throw next … and predicting what will finally work to get it all unstuck. This book is one of my favorites for teaching the story element of cause and effect!

A Bad Case of Stripes written by David Shannon

This is a great book for the beginning of school in first or second grade because of the lesson to be learned about being yourself. You can also use it as an informal assessment to understand what the students already know about cause and effect.

The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery written by Sandra Markle

This nonfiction picture book is all about why bats are disappearing and why we don’t want that to happen. It’s a great example of cause and effect in our modern world. If you want to pair this with a fiction text as a book pairing, try Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon. Check out some other ideas for Fiction and Nonfiction Book Pairings for Older Students (Link this blog when it’s live on the website) 

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad written by Ellen Levine 

This nonfiction biography is a great read aloud example for a discussion of cause and effect in someone’s life during the time of slavery in our country. While it is a picture book, the reading level of the text and concept load for the topic is probably more appropriate for 3rd-5th grades. 

Who Was Rosa Parks? written by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Read this biographical book with the purpose of finding out why Rosa protested the seating rules on the bus and what happened as a result of her protest. As you read this with students, make a list together of the causes of her actions as well as the effects of her actions.

Paul Revere’s Ride written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is a poem that students will see cause and effect illustrated throughout. The British arrive, which leads to a lantern being hung in the North Church tower causing Paul Revere’s famous ride. Paul Revere’s ride then leads to the colonists being prepared for the British’s invasion. This nonfiction text is best for upper elementary students.

For more ideas on Cause and Effect, check out:

What are your favorite picture books for teaching cause and effect?

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