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Favourite Non-Fiction Books

Favourite non-fiction texts for primary classrooms

This month, we've been asking our community of primary teachers, children's authors, librarians and book lovers to nominate their favourite non-fiction books for primary-aged children.


This is what they told us... 

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System

Dominic Walliman & Ben Newman

Nominated by: Jo Cummins (@BookSuperhero2), English Manager and Year 3 Teacher

"The newest addition to the Professor Astro Cat series but this time aimed at younger readers aged 3-7 and it takes young explorers on a journey through our solar system. I love the bold contemporary illustrations and the way that scientific ideas are introduced in a very child-friendly way. The perfect gift for budding astronauts."

Also featured on: Space Topic

Shackleton's Journey

William Grill

Nominated by: Paul Watson (@PaulWat5), Year 5 Teacher and also by Chris Callaghan (@callaghansstuff), author of children's books including The Great Chocoplot (available here)

Chris says: "I've always been fascinated by cold climates and the people compelled to explore them. William Grill's 'Shackleton's Journey' is a beautiful account of a particularly famous and hazardous Antarctic adventure. It's full of stunning details, facts and figures, which are all brought to life with wonderful illustrations."

 

Paul says: "The artwork is so beautifully created that it disguises the sheer volume of fantastic facts you can learn about the intriguing Shackleton. Amazing book!"

Read more about this book on Paul's blog: https://thegreatbritishbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/shackletons-journey-by-william-grill/amp/

Also featured on: polar worlds

Historium (Welcome to the Museum)

Jo Nelson and Richard Wilkinson

Nominated by: Rosemary Burke (@Rosemarycalm), Year 6 teacher & deputy head

"This is a perfect title for this book. It really is like having a museum at your fingertips. It starts with a timeline of artefacts from: Africa, America, Asia, Europe, The Middle East and Oceania. You can spend hours visiting each gallery and this is a book which you will return to again and again. This is a book that every school and home needs. "

A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space

Libby Jackson

Nominated by: Scott Evans (@MrEPrimary), Primary Teacher and owner of http://thereaderteacher.com 

"I have chosen this book because when I selected it from the shelf and turned the page, it was everything I wanted it to be (and more!): informative, interesting and most of all, inspirational. If you want to show children excellent examples of how people - in this instance, women in space - can aspire to achieve and succeed (often against the odds) then I could not think of a better non-fiction book out this year that could demonstrate this so well!"

Also featured on: Space Topic

A World of Information

Richard Platt & James Brown

Nominated by: Nicki Cleveland (@MissNCleveland), HLTA & school librarian

"Picking a favourite anything is always something I find difficult, but when it comes to books, I find it excruciating. There is a huge range of amazing non-fiction for children but there is one book that I have poured over and over and over, time and time again - A World Of Information by Richard Platt & James Brown. Why? Quite simply, because it is absolutely mesmerising! Covering the Fibonacci Sequence, the solar system, clouds, the orchestra, knots, Morse code and lots more besides, it is a wonderful miscellany of facts to inform, and to inspire further exploration beyond its beautifully embossed covers.

Each monochrome double spread is a joy to behold with captivating diagrams that demand investigation before you even get to the text, giving enough information to hook the insatiably curious. Its size encourages reading at a table or spreading out on the floor, and its format is perfect for dipping in and out of.

Whether sharing with friends or enjoying alone, A World Of Information is a treasure trove for the mind. No wonder it’s my most borrowed non-fiction book from my school bookshelf by children and adults - endorsements don’t come better than that!"

Terrible, True Tales from the Tower of London: As told by the Ravens

Sarah Kilby & Peter Cottrill

Nominated by: Finian Black (@finianblack), author of children's book 'The Final Raven' (available here)

"This is a brilliant book for ages 7+. History brought to life, told by the ravens at the Tower. It's packed with facts and stories, and enough gore to satisfy the gruesome streak in most children. Fans of Horrible Histories will love it!"

The Lost Words

Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

Nominated by: Bev Humphrey (@LibWithAttitude), Literacy & Technology Consultant

"I would wholeheartedly like to recommend The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. The illustrations are just utterly gorgeous and the text forms a lyrical exploration of words seldom heard in today’s high tech world. Perfect for dipping into and savouring for years to come." 

100 Things to Know About Science

Usborne

Nominated by: Zillah Bethell (@BethellZillah), author of children's books including A Whisper of Horses (available here)

"For younger students, '100 things to Know About Science' (Usborne) is great. From that one I learned that octopuses have three hearts!'

Hello World

Jonathan Litton & L'Atelier Cartographik

Nominated by: Jenny Jones (@JennySarahJones), Head Prep School Librarian, Clifton College, Bristol.

"This book describes itself as "A celebration of languages and cultures" and it certainly is! This is a flap book that will engage and excite pupils all the way up to Year 6 and beyond. Each double page shows a different continent and there are cartoon figures of people from different countries saying 'hello' in their native language. Lift the flap and you are given a phonic pronunciation so that you can have a go at saying the word, plus which language it is and how many speakers of it there are. It's a simple idea but as the pages turn you realise just how beautiful and awesome this concept for a book is. There are so many languages that I had never even heard of and so many different scripts to see- it's a mind-blowing and eye-opening book that could be used in so many different ways for so many different topics or just for the fun of trying all of those different sounds out on your tongue."

A First Book of Nature

Nicola Davies & Mark Hearld

Nominated by: Roy James (@royjamesmoss), Librarian & Reader with KS2

"For me this book has a dream team of components: Nicola Davies, Mark Hearld, poetry and nature. Together they create something that belongs in multiple genres. It’s a poetry book, an art book - Hearld’s woodblock prints are one with the words - and an information book. The book guides you through the seasons, and the poems about British wildlife, weather and trees depict how special each one is, while gently informing. In my opinion, an essential addition to any library or classroom, and a fine multi-topic book for any age group."

Also features on: plants & animals topic

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

Rachel Ignotofsky

Nominated by: Vashti Hardy (@vashti_hardy), author of children's book 'Brightstorm', publishing March 2018 and available for pre-order here

"This is a super book celebrating fifty women who have achieved in the STEM areas covering a variety from history to modern day. It’s beautifully illustrated and is a wonderfully inspiring book for both girls and boys packed with interesting nuggets of information on a wide variety of achievements. I gave up physics at A-level because I was the only female in the class and began to doubt my abilities, so books like this hold a special place for me and could make all the difference to inspiring self-belief in young budding female engineers and scientists out there. Highly recommended."

A World of Cities

James Brown & Lily Murray

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), owner of booksfortopics.com

"This is a true treasure of a non-fiction text! World of Cities is an almost-A3 sized high quality information book filled with double-page spreads illustrated in a striking print-maker style, with each one containing information about a different world city. The written text is cleverly integrated into the pictures (e.g. on the page about London, facts are placed seated on a bus, around the archways of the bridge and ascending Big Ben’s tower) and you get the feeling that you will discover brand new trinkets of information each time you read. An engaging, original book that makes you want to climb into the pages."

Also features on: houses & buildings

The Street Beneath My Feet

Charlotte Guillain & Yuval Zommer

Nominated by: Louise Gall (@mrsgclass3), Year 3 teacher and blogger at https://mrsgclass3.wordpress.com 

"I'd like to recommend this beauty. I recently used it to introduce Class 3's 'Under Our Feet' topic and there were gasps from the children. Sublimely illustrated, its concertina-style pages fold out into a long cross section of the Earth: in one side and out the other. It contains a wealth of information and opportunities for further questions from curious young minds. Just stunning."

Also features on: awesome Earth topic

Little People, Big Dreams

Lisbeth Kaiser & Ana Sanfelippo

Nominated by: Anne Digby (@AnneDigby1), author of children's books including The Trebizon Series (available here) and the Further Adventures of the Naughtiest Girl (available here)

"It's never too early for children - of either sex - to discover that girls can aim for the stars - and get there. Frances Lincoln Children's Books new series Little People Big Dreams manages this beautifully - no strident feminism here, just gentle text & quirky illustrations with great stories to tell of women who followed their childhood dreams. My six-year-old granddaughter loved the latest one, about Emmeline Pankhurst, and is already planning to be prime minister one day! Other heroines featured in the series include Marie Curie, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart. Recommended."

The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff

Andy Seed & Scott Garrett

Nominated by: Trudy Fletcher (@trudyrocke), Primary Teacher & English Lead

"I recommend this book because it is a funny non-fiction book that has engaged my most reluctant readers. It is full of fun facts and has encouraged my children to explore some of their own unusual facts. We especially love the funny place names and the fact that there is a house that is designed to look like a toilet. We love it."

A Street Through Time

Steve Noon

Nominated by: James Nicol (@JamesENicol), author of children's books including The Apprentice Witch (available here

"I’m incredibly nosy - I think most writers are and so I love any non-fiction books that explore or peep behind closed doors. A Street Through Time does this in the best possible way and over thousands of years. You can see what people’s kitchens, bedrooms and loos looked like from the Romans to the Victorians (Roman toilets I’d avoid FYI!). I also love how busy this book is. So many brilliant details to explore again and again!."

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