The 5 Best Fiction and Nonfiction Book Pairings for Older Students

Do you use fiction and nonfiction book pairings for older students? Book pairings are great to use with students of all ages because it helps students understand the characteristics of each type of writing and may just encourage students to read both fiction and nonfiction books. A book pairing simply means that a fiction AND nonfiction book on the same topic can be read together for a lesson to compare and contrast.

Check out this recent blog post all about the 5 best fiction and nonfiction book pairings for younger students. Today let’s talk about the 5 best fiction and nonfiction book pairings for older students. When I say older students, I’m talking about typically 4th-7th graders. Book pairings between fiction and nonfiction books are especially important for older elementary and middle school students because by this age, you really want to encourage students to read both types of books. Most children love fiction books but nonfiction books can be harder to get a 6th grader to read sometimes. My best advice for doing book pairings of fiction and nonfiction books with older students would be to find topics that interest them and read books about those topics. One idea may even be to have them take a poll to let you know what kind of books they are interested in.

Here are some topic ideas for older students:

  • Sports
  • Current world events
  • Exploring the ocean
  • Space

Here are the 5 best fiction and nonfiction book pairings for older students:

Make Way for Ducklings

By: Robert McCloskey (FICTION)

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live.  The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston.  But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arrive safely at their new home.

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By: Gail Gibbons (NONFICTION)

This nonfiction story describes how ducks swim, dive, feed, communicate, build nests, and raise their young as well as offers information about how conservation groups are trying to protect many ducks and their habitats.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams 

by: Lisa Cline-Ransome (NONFICTION)

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Some say they’re two of the greatest athletes of all time. Before they were world famous, they were little girls with big dreams.

Venus and Serena Williams: Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. 

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Sisters First 

by: Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush 


A young girl’s wish is granted when a new sister arrives. While the baby can’t do much, over time the big and little siblings become inseparable, playing and dancing, imagining and laughing. By each other’s sides, they are smarter, kinder, and braver than they ever thought they could be. And they are forever sisters first.

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents 

by: Kate Messner (NONFICTION)

An inspiring and informative book for kids about the past and future of America’s presidents.

Who will be the NEXT president? Could it be you? When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine.

When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone. 

And right now—today—there are at least 10 future presidents alive in America. They could be playing basketball, like Barack Obama, or helping in the garden, like Dwight D. Eisenhower. They could be solving math problems or reading books. They could be making art—or already making change.

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My Teacher for President 

by: Kay Winters (FICTION)

Just in time for election season, a nomination teachers and students alike will endorse. Oliver has been learning about the president’s job, and his teacher would be the perfect candidate. She loves white houses, she’s used to being followed everywhere, she attends lots of meetings, she finds jobs for people, and she believes in peace. 

George and Martha Round and Round 

by: James Marshall (FICTION)

George and Martha are lovable hippos with a very strong friendship.

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Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship 

by: Isabella Hatkoff (NONFICTION)

In this exciting follow-up to OWEN & MZEE, the New York Times bestselling story about an orphaned baby hippo named Owen and the 130-year-old giant turtle, Mzee, Craig Hatkoff explores the language of love, friendship, and nurturance that these two incredible creatures share with one another. This book traces their first year together, including their adorable playful ways and the unique “language” that they have developed.

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky

By: Faith Ringgold (FICTION)

Cassie, who flew above New York in Tar Beach, soars into the sky once more. This time, she and her brother Be Be meet a train full of people, and Be Be joins them. But the train departs before Cassie can climb aboard. With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the real Underground Railroad and is finally reunited with her brother at the story’s end.

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A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman

By: David A. Adler (NONFICTION)

From her rebellious childhood to her daring escape from slavery, Harriet Tubman was a confident, fearless woman. After heading North in search of freedom, she risked her life, again and again, to lead others out of slavery, devoting herself to guiding almost three hundred individuals along the network of safe havens known as the Underground Railroad. 

What are your favorite fiction and nonfiction book pairings for older students?

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