Autumn 2019: Non-Fiction Round-Up

Following on from our very popular Ones To Watch round-up of top fiction titles this term , we bring you a round-up of some of our favourite non-fiction titles published this term.


1. Atlas of Ocean Adventures

by Emily Hawkins (author) & Lucy Letherland

Available here

Atlas of Ocean Adventures is an oversized hardback with immersive illustrations that showcase the natural wonders and marine marvels from different oceans of the world.


Each impressive double-page spread features a different sea creature in its natural habitat, including a range of fish, marine birds and larger mammals. Maps, illustrations, captions and text boxes work together to build a picture of the incredible diversity of ocean life around the world. There are plenty of intriguing details to capture readers’ imagination and there are also nods towards the need for sustainability in the way human behaviors affect the natural ocean habitats.


This delight of a book is the 5th title in the best-selling Atlas of Adventures series, perfect for children aged 7-11 to dip in and out of time and time again at school or home.


Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Publication date: 22nd October 2019


Order Atlas of Ocean Adventures here.


Also features on: Oceans & Seas Booklist


2. Strange but True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained

by Kathryn Hulick (author), & Gordy Wright

Available here

Here’s a book for young readers who love mysteries and get a thrill from explaining the unexplained.


Strange But True charts some of the world’s greatest mysteries, from UFO sightings to the Loch Ness Monster, and looks at the rational explanations that may lay behind them. The author suggests likely explanations for 10 well-known mysteries, such as the microbiological factors that may cause the death and illness ‘curse’ on anyone disturbing Tutnkhamnm’s tomb or the contribution of attitudes towards mental illness in explaining a surge of zombie sightings in Haiti.


Bringing together science, psychology, folklore and history, this hardback non-fiction gem lies in wait to be discovered by a new generation of Mulder and Scully would-bes.


Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Publication date: 1st October 2019


Order Strange But True here.




3. Orchestra

by Avalon Nuovo (author) & David Doran (illustrator)

Available here

This stylish non-fiction book about the orchestra hits all the right notes to inspire and inform children in primary schools.


The compendium of all things musical includes sections on individual instruments of the orchestra, a diversity of notable composers and famous pieces of music and finally a section about musicology including modern music and music technology. The tone of the text conveys clear passion for the subject matter and the author is quick to point out how music is all around us in both nature and culture. David Doran's stylish artwork makes you almost want to reach in and try out the instruments for yourself and despite our recommendation, we take no responsibility for children pestering parents to organise clarinet or double bass lessons after being exposed to this book (perhaps the cover should come with a warning!).


Through text, illustrations and diagrams, the book contains scores of information about different aspects of music and is a real must-have to support your music curriculum in school as well as to offer as an enjoyable non-fiction read for pleasure.


Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Publication date: 1st November 2019


Order Orchestra here.



4. Unseen Worlds: Real-Life Microscopic Creatures Hiding All Around Us

by Helene Rajcak (author) & Damien Laverdunt (Illustrator)

Available here

Unseen Worlds explores all sorts of microscopic creatures and their habitats. This illustrated non-fiction book will appeal to science-loving children in upper KS2 or those curious to know more about the fascinating microscopic lifeforms all around us (and on us, inside us and in our bedsheets...).


From the ocean floor to a tuft of moss to the inside of the human nose, the book offers an opportunity to zoom right into habitats that contain a hidden universe of microscopic life. Each habitat is presented through short, explanatory paragraphs of text and a search-and-find style double-page spread filled with a meticulously detailed illustration, a scale-indicator and a fold-out numbered key cataloging the creatures within. An information section at the back also includes the history of microscopes and a helpful glossary of key terms.


This is a unique book that, despite its creepy-crawly subject matter, treats the topic of microorganisms with due respect and never undermines the highly scientific nature of its content as it educates its readers on the truly intriguing unseen creatures living all around us.


Publisher: What on Earth Books

Publication date: 29th October 2019


Order Unseen Worlds here.



5. Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories

by Amanda Li (Author) & Amy Blackwell (Illustrator)

Available here


We’ve seen a surge of anthologies recently containing stories of inspirational people, but what unites the real-life heroes and heroines in this collection is simply that they achieved amazing things as children.


From famous speakers and activists to athletes, musicians, inventors and those who have survived in extraordinary circumstances against all odds, the diverse collection is likely to include somebody for each and every pupil in a primary classroom to feel personally inspired by. There are stories of well-known figures like Louis Braille and Greta Thunberg but also tales that are likely to be less familiar, like Syrian photographer Mohamad Al Jounde or Pratima Sherpa, a determined golfer from Nepal who first learned the sport using a plank of wood. Themes of perseverance, justice and resourcefulness are drawn out across the different stories.


The book is hugely readable, with short and accessible biographies interspersed with related advice and have-a-go activities like how to tie a knot, how to do a keepie-uppie or how to pursue a career in the world of k-pop. This is an appealing, informative and positive compendium offering a key encouragement about the potential of all children to achieve amazing things.

Publisher: Buster Books

Publication date: 19th September 2010


Order Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories here.



6. Step Inside Homes Through History

Goldie Hawk (author) & Sarah Gibb (Illustrator)

Available here


This is a charming laser-cut book designed to explore houses and homes in different periods of British history.


The chronological guide begins in the Late Middle Ages and travels through seven different eras, finishing at present day. Fold-out sections and intricate laser-cut flaps allow little hands to open up the houses, peek through windows and observe different family members engaging in their activities in and round the home. Broader topics such as clothes, food and architecture are considered and the way in which priorities and lifestyles change over time is gently drawn out across the different sections.


The houses depict a snapshot of upper-middle-class life, but provide more of a vehicle for considering key changes in attitudes, activities and fashions of each area rather than a close representation of everyday life. The present-day house, for example, is an eco-house complete with flat-pack furniture, triple-glazed windows and smart technology powered by rooftop solar panels. Jump back 100 years in time and you’ll find a 1920s suburban redbrick three-storey house with William Morris wallpaper, jazz on the gramophone and a smartly dressed couple on their way to the pictures to see a silent movie.


Each snippet of information builds on the eras before and adds to a picture of societal change over time. The book flows excellently as a start-to-finish read, but also has plenty of potential to zoom in to just one particular era or to follow a single thread throughout (learning how bathrooms evolved from a hole in the wall to a chamber pot to modern day ensuite will always entertain young children). This book will be enjoyed in KS1 classrooms and will help pupils to explore historical causality and change when covering the Houses and Homes topic.


Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 5th September 2019


Order Homes Through History here.



Also features on: Houses & Homes Booklist



7. Dr. Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Author) & Chelen Ecija (Illustrator)

Available here


Real-life BBC presenter and renowned space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an inspiration. Her hugely successful academic career, commitment to exploring all things to do with space and her abilities to communicate complex ideas to children, are all evident in this book.


This non-fiction text is presented as a 'grand tour' and after initial orientation, the rest of the book blasts off into sections that provide vast amounts of information about the planets and stars in the solar system, communicated in a very accessible way. The print is large and the font clear and this, alongside the vibrant illustrations enable even the youngest reader to navigate this book. Equally, some of the ideas explored are quite complex and will satisfy older readers too, such as – why seasons are different on Mars; belts of gas on Jupiter; a six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole and oxygen in the exosphere of Callisto (one of Jupiter’s moons).


The glue that holds this book together is the idea of the ‘grand tour’ and the narration of Dr Maggie of each approach and landing. This is a book that will inspire children to emulate her and, as a woman of colour this is particularly welcome.


Publisher: Buster Books

Publication date: 5th September 2018


Order Dr Maggie's Grand Tour of the Solar System here.


Also features on:

Space Booklist


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Download a copy of this poster here.



Thank you to the publishers of these titles for kindly sending us copies of these texts to review.


Check out our top 7 fiction texts for the Autumn term, too!



Where next?

> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> View our printable year group booklists.

> See our Books of the Month.

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, BooksForTopics earns from qualifying purchases.  Click here to learn more. 

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