Fantastic factual books

Published on: 15 April 2024

Our Writer in Residence, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, recommends some fantastic non-fiction books to keep children reading.

There are so many brilliant factual books around today and here are just a few of my favourites. I wish I could have squeezed in so many more but hopefully you’ll find something in here for all ages and interests (and I’ll be back with another book list for the summer too!).

Art and Culture

Chews Your Own Tasty Adventure by Dr Sai Pathmanathan and Lucia Vinti

A delicious read that introduces young readers to the science and magic of cooking and baking and takes them on an incredible adventure of (vegetarian!) culinary delights. The choose-your-own-adventure element is fantastic and lots of fun. 

Poetry Prompts: All Sorts of Ways to Start a Poem by Joseph Coelho, Georgie Birkett, Grasya Oliyko, Amanda Quartey and Viola Wang

This beautiful collection of poetry prompts by our Children’s Laureate (2022–2024) is absolutely gorgeous in every way. It shows how writing and performing poetry truly is for everyone.

Mona Lisa and the Others by Alice Harman and Quentin Blake

A fabulously funny introduction to 30 iconic artworks from the Louvre in Paris with a mix of photographs, sketches and hilarious “accounts” from the subjects of these pieces. A fresh take for budding artists and lovers of art and history.

The Treasure Hunt by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Gordy Wright

A stunningly illustrated and wonderfully immersive book that takes the reader on an amazing journey. Exploring the true stories of treasures lost and found across the world, it’s packed with puzzles, history, art and more.

Sportopedia by Adam Skinner and Mark Long

Sports fans will 100% lose themselves within the pages of this incredible book. It’s big and beautiful and looks at over 60 of the world’s best-loved sports from football, fencing and Formula 1 to surfing, gymnastics, cricket and kabaddi. There’s LOTS of detail and Mark Long’s art is so striking.

History and Current Affairs

Totally Chaotic History: Ancient Egypt Gets Unruly by Greg Jenner, Dr Campbell Price and Rikin Parekh

A big bang of a start to a shiny new and fantastically funny history series with expert input and the most hilarious art from Rikin Parekh. It’s a real delight, this one, and I think it’ll be a hot favourite for history fans.

History’s Biggest Show-Offs: The Boldest, Bravest and Brainiest People of All Time by Andy Seed and Sam Caldwell

A super fun tour of some big names in history, from royals and leaders to artists and inventors. Readers will enjoy diving into their worlds and exploring their (fully fact-checked) amazingness. The art is fabulous too!

Journey Back To Freedom by Catherine Johnson

An inspiring and uplifting account of the true story of Olaudah Equiano, who was snatched from his home at 11 and sold into slavery. Throughout his many travels and all kinds of cruel and kind encounters, Equiano never gave up hope that one day he’d be free.

The Power of Welcome: Real-life Refugee and Migrant Journeys by Marie Bamyani, Ada Jusic, Nadine Kaadan, Ramzee and Sonya Zhurenko

A powerful, moving and ultimately hopeful graphic novel capturing the true experiences of displaced people from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Syria and Ukraine. An eye-opening book that everyone needs to read.

Bright Stars of Black British History by J.T. Williams and Angela Vives

A stunning, giftable anthology of stories about fourteen incredible Black British role models from Tudor times to modern Britain. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book highlights an area of our shared history that we just don’t hear enough about.

Story of Now: Let’s Talk About the British Empire by Shelina Janmohamed and Laura Greenan

An accessible, well-researched and highly informative guide to the British Empire and its enduring impact today. A book that offers up the facts and then invites the reader to consider them and come to their own conclusions about equity, justice and what the future might look like.

Nature and our planet

Life: A celebration of Earth’s history by Elli Woollard and Dorien Brouwers

A spectacular journey through time, exploring the history of the Earth and life on our planet from its very beginnings through to the present moment. Written in gorgeous rhyme and paired with the most magnificent artwork, this book is deeply informative and an absolute delight for readers of all ages.

One World: 24 hours on Planet Earth by Nicola Davies and Jenni Desmond

This book transports young readers to different parts of the world to explore wildlife and landscapes, experiencing all kinds of sights and sounds. It’s a beautifully illustrated celebration of life on our planet and a powerful call to action to do everything we can to protect it.

Drawn to Change the World by Emma Reynolds and 16 artists from around the world

An incredible, eye-opening graphic novel guide to climate change and the amazing work of 16 inspiring youth climate activists from across the planet, centring indigenous stories, voices and solutions.

Wild Child by Dara McAnulty and Barry Falls

A heart-expanding celebration of our relationship with nature. It’s filled with lyrical writing, beautiful art and activities that are all about exploring habitats and wildlife and really noticing and enjoying the little things in life.

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear by Trang Nguyen and Jeet Zdung

This beautiful comic is written by (and based on the life of) Vietnamese wildlife conservationist Trang Nguyen and her incredible work to save sun bears. Illustrated by Vietnamese artist Jeet Zdung, this book won the prestigious 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration.


Shine, Star, Shine! by Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou

Part of a wondrous series of poetic picture books based on our real world, this book looks at the magic and science of the stars, including our sun. Pure delight for little readers and budding poets and scientists.

Once Upon a Raindrop by James Carter and Nomoco

A gorgeous poetry picture book diving deep into the wonderful world of water. It takes the reader on a beautiful journey. Part of a series of lyrical books by James Carter together with a fantastic collection of illustrators.

Flight by Mya-Rose Craig and Lynn Scurfield

This book is absolutely stunning in every way. The art is breath-taking and the writing is atmospheric, transporting the reader across the planet, following the epic voyages of some spectacular birds. Written by Mya-Rose Craig, a British-Bangladeshi birder, environmentalist and activist.

How To Spaghettify Your Dog by Hiba Noor Khan and Harry Woodgate

This bright and colourful book shows just how fun and fascinating science can be. It’s the perfect introduction to physics, breaking down the biggest concepts and making them accessible and interesting for young readers.

A Day in the Life of an Astronaut, Mars and the Distant Stars by Mark Barfield and Jess Bradley

A complete delight of a book and a total treat for fans of comics. With hilarious art by Jess Bradley, it’s jam-packed with fantastic facts about space. I can imagine readers getting lost in these pages and revisiting this one over and over again!

Navigating Life

My Family Your Family by Laura Henry-Allain and Giovana Medeiros

A lovely book that shows young readers how families come in all forms and shapes and sizes. It explains in its own gentle way that they might even change over time and that’s okay, and helps little ones appreciate and celebrate the people that matter most to them.

Fox: A Circle of Life Story by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus

A powerful and deeply moving book exploring the science of death and new beginnings using the story of a fox to show how new life can grow from old. The story and back matter are sensitively written by science writer Isabel Thomas and beautifully illustrated by Daniel Egnéus.

A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe

In this funny illustrated memoir, late diagnosed autistic author-illustrator Abigail Balfe looks back at her experiences of growing up as a neurodivergent child, breaking down and busting myths and exploring what it means to be autistic. It’s also just a joyous celebration of being yourself.

I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Baldo

Written by well-loved TV presenter Cerrie Burnell, with striking art by Lauren Baldo, this is an uplifting and empowering anthology featuring the stories of 34 incredible disabled role models from around the world, from artists and athletes to activists and thinkers.

Breaking News by Nick Sheridan and David O’Connell

Written in a funny conversational tone, this is an accessible, eye-opening and important guide to sniffing out fake news, a skill children will need now more than ever. It also teaches readers some fascinating secrets of journalism from hunting down a brilliant story to coming up with a cracking headline.

 Read more from Rashmi

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