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Facts, Fun and Favourites: The Best Non-Fiction Books for Kids

Sometimes it seems like fiction gets all the love but most often, when I look at my kids really engrossed in a book, it is actually a non-fiction book bursting with gorgeous illustrations, fantastic facts and bite-size chunks of easily digestible text that they are poring over.

Non-fiction comes in a huge variety of shapes and sizes – from babies’ first word books, taking in puzzle compendiums, encyclopedias and histories.

— To keep your kids interested in books also check out:
How to Encourage Kids to Read
& Best Reading Books for a 10 Year Old
& Best Book Box-Sets and Series for Kids

Below are our:

Top Picks for the Best Kids’ Non-Fiction

1. My Very First Library

Eric Carle, author of the much-loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar, creates wonderful illustrations that really appeal to young children.

This wonderful collection of ‘My Very First…’ books is a great way to start reading and learning with your baby or toddler.

This collection includes: My Very First Colours, My Very First Shapes, My Very First Numbers and My Very First Words all in beautifully illustrated but sturdy board books.

This library would also make a really lovely gift for a new baby.

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2. Where’s Wally?

This classic series of books has kept kids entertained for years and it never seems to get old!

In fact I just deployed a bit of Where’s Wally magic this morning after my six year old had worked herself up into a massive tantrum and was struggling to calm down.

I simply sat her on the sofa and asked her to find Wally… and within minutes the tantrum was over and she was engrossed in the book!

And it’s not like once you’ve found Wally you’re done. On each puzzle page you have to find Wally’s significant other, Wenda; Wizard Whitebeard; Wally’s dog, Woof; and his nemesis Odlaw – all hiding amidst the crowd.

Even then there are items Wally has lost, or all this similarly dressed chums to ‘collect’ the fun goes on and on.

There are plenty of titles in the series but if you are starting out the original and best is the way to go.

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3. National Geographic fact books

This series of bright, colourful books are bursting with facts and figures all laid out in an imaginative and engaging style – as you’d expect from National Geographic.

The books are so full of information that children can read them over and over again, each time finding something new to pique their interest.

My kids have this one 5,000 Awesome Facts About Everything:

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But they also really love the Weird But True series, which they always read at the library so I will be investing in the 2019 edition as well.

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4. Photicular animal books

My 8-year-old was given the Jungle version of this book for his 6th birthday and he still really loves flicking the pages and watching the animals come to life.

These books work using similar technology to those rulers we all had as kids which as you tilt them it makes a scene come to life.

In these (slightly more high-tech) books this is put to great effect to show: a cheetah sprinting, a panda eating or a vibrant green tree-frog blinking its enormous eyes.

There are lots of titles to choose from including: Jungle, Safari, Ocean, Polar, Wild, and Dinosaur.

The books are chunky enough for small hands and the moving pictures really pack that ‘Wow!’ factor which makes them a great present idea. The kids will love them and the parents will love you for finding something with a solid educational aspect too.

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5. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Despite the name, this book is actually non-fiction! Don’t expect soothing stories of sleepy bears or cute farm animals. This is more inspiring than soporific.

It was a huge publishing success and has spawned a whole host of copy cats, but this is the original and best!

The book contains a potted inspirational life story for sixty of the world’s most amazing women from Ada Lovelace to Serena Williams.

Each entry contains a beautiful full-page illustration by a variety of different artists, making it a treat for the eyes as well as the mind.

We got this for our 6-year-old daughter last Christmas and every night we all gathered round to listen to these inspiring stories.

Then we chatted through what we had learned and any questions that had arisen, which allowed for some really interesting conversations with our kids – both the boys and girls.

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They have also now brought out Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2:

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6. DK character encyclopedias

All my kids are really into super heroes and Lego, so they love DK’s illustrated character encyclopedias.

We have at least five different versions and many of them have been so well-read that the covers have fallen off!

Their absolute favourite is the Marvel Avengers Ultimate Character Guide as it has brilliant illustrations and life-stories of all the Avengers characters from A–Z (there are a surprising number of Avengers!).

The information they have gleaned from this book has had great playground currency.

They are all now known for their expert knowledge of The Avengers universe (which, as a super hero geek, I am pretty proud of!).

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Other ones they especially like are all the Lego-related character encyclopedias from Ninjago to Star Wars (which as a bonus usually come with a limited edition Lego mini figure too).

Pro tip: There’s usually only one Lego mini-figure, so if you have lots of kids you may want to plan ahead for the almost inevitable arguments over who gets the figure.

The top character encyclopedias in our house (click a title to check the price on Amazon):

7. Animalium

This great book is like a mini natural history museum in itself, letting your child take a tour through its pages drinking in the wonderful illustrations and informative text.

The books is based around the tree of life so that it flows on from the most simple sea sponge to the awe-inspiring elephant.

The design and quality of the drawings are such that it is reminiscent of beautiful old books but with a modern and exciting spin.

It’s the kind of book that animal-loving kids could get lost in for hours.

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8. Pierre the Maze Detective

If your child enjoys fiendishly difficult puzzles then this richly illustrated book is for them!

Each double page spread of this enormous book (it is roughly 30 x 35 cm) contains an elaborate maze and a task for your ‘detective’ to undertake.

Chase the mysterious Mr X through the underground, up in a balloon and across the busy streets, picking up clues as you go along.

Thankfully there is a page of puzzle solutions at the end, should it all prove a bit much!

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9. See Inside…

Usborne’s See Inside series is great for younger readers of non-fiction (think 5+) who enjoy lifting flaps to reveal extra nuggets of information and uncovering how things work.

There are numerous titles in the series including: See Inside Space, See Inside Your Body, See Under the Sea, See Inside your Head and See Inside Castles, ensuring there is a title for everyone and also plenty to collect.

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10. The Guinness Book of World Records

This book was a favourite when I was a child and little has changed, it is still packed full of amazing record-breaking people, places and animals.

There’s lots here to inspire your young readers — and they don’t have to be the biggest, fastest or the best. There are listings (and photos!) or the world’s biggest water pistol, skateboard and burger!

There’s even a ‘Try this at home’ section all about things you young record-breaker might want to try — even if it’s just to see how hard it is to break a world record.

And who knows, maybe it will inspire your child to break their own world record? (Here’s hoping they don’t chose ‘grow the longest fingernails’ yuk!).

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11. Horrible Histories

I feel like I am recommending these books in every article I write but I really cannot praise them enough! My children have learnt so much about history from these great and often gruesome little books.

They combine great facts, crazy trivia and funny cartoons in such a way that really appeals to children and has them learning without even noticing.

You can buy the titles individually but it works out much better value to buy the whole box set of twenty books:

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If your children are fiction fans, fear not! You can also read our recommendations on the Best Books for 10 Year Olds and the Best Book Box Sets and Series.

 

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