Summer Reading: Factual Book Recommendations

Published on: 07 July 2024

Our Writer in Residence, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, suggests books to spark children’s love of reading. 

I’m BACK with another book list full of fantastic factual books to give you some summer reading inspiration (you can read my other recommendations list here). Again, I struggled to squeeze in all my favourites but here are a few that I think are absolute gems and I hope you enjoy exploring them too.  

History and Ancient Worlds   

The Humans by Jonny Marx and Charlie Davis

This big and beautiful book looks at ancient civilisations from around the world and highlights their greatest achievements, inventions, and ideas and how their legacy lives on today.   

So You Think You’ve Got it Bad – a Kid’s Life in Ancient Rome by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea

A hilarious historical series full of fun facts and super funny art. This one gives you a peek into a child’s life in Ancient Rome.  

She Speaks The Women of Greek Myths in Their Own Words by Honor Cargill-Martin and Camelia Pham

A fresh and empowering set of retellings from the perspective of some bold and brilliant female characters of Greek mythology who often aren’t given enough airtime.  

Lessons from Our Ancestors by Raksha Dave and Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong

Written by an archaeologist, this inspiring book dives deep into our lesser-known histories to look at the lessons we can learn about building an inclusive and sustainable society.  

The History of Everywhere All The Stuff That You Never Knew Happened At The Same Time by Philip Parker and Liz Kay

A stunningly illustrated and deeply fascinating book that pulls together key historical events from around the world and puts them in context like never before. A must-read for budding historians.  

The History AtlasHeroes, Villains, and Magnificent Maps from Fifteen Extraordinary Civilisations by Thiago de Moraes

Jam-packed with fascinating facts and Thiago de Moraes’s incredible illustrations of heroes, villains, royals, explorers, inventors, artists and more, this wondrous book is a whistle-stop tour of global history and will keep young readers busy for a LONG, LONG time.   

Nature and Our Planet  

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade 

The creation of an indigenous author-artist team, this beautiful, lyrical book is inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and explores the fight to protect our waters and our planet. It’s a powerful call to action and a reminder of how precious nature is.  

Curious Creatures Talking Together by Zoë Armstrong and Anja Sušanj 

Part of a charming series, this is a truly lovely book that looks at the wondrous, wordless ways in which animals communicate.  

Do Penguins Like the Cold? by Huw Lewis Jones and Sam Caldwell

Written by a real-life polar explorer, this delightful book is beautifully illustrated and will take readers all over the world from Argentina to Antarctica and from the Galápagos Islands to Namibia and South Africa. Perfect for penguin-lovers!  

Planet Earth III by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Kim Smith

Beautifully told and brightly illustrated, this adaptation of Sir David Attenborough’s acclaimed documentary is a wonderful collection of uplifting, comforting and hopeful stories about life on our planet.  

The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer 

This one is JOY in book form! A gorgeous exploration of flowers in all their grace and magnificence and one that is sure to inspire little conservationists, gardeners and artists.  

It’s the Journey not the Destination by Carl Honoré and Kevin & Kristen Howdeshell 

This book is pure delight. Stunningly illustrated, it takes the reader on 40 fascinating slow journeys around the world by bicycle, boat, train, and on foot. A beautiful book that will fill young hearts with wonder.  


Meet the Planets by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin 

A fantastic whirlwind tour of our solar system told in Caryl Hart’s bouncy rhyme with striking art from Bethan Woollvin. Part of a brilliant series.  

Scientists are Saving the World by Saskia Gwinn and Ana Albero 

Told in the form of comics, this is a fabulous first introduction to the world of scientists, who they are, what they do, and the difference they make. Filled with an inclusive collection of real-life role models throughout, this book is perfect for budding scientists.  

Mr Shaha’s Marvellous Machines by Alom Shaha and Emily Robertson

This wondrous book explains the science of machines in such an accessible and exciting way. It’s an invitation to make and discover and it’s packed with activities to keep little ones busy over the holidays.  

The Bedtime Book of Impossible Questions Real Life Adventures in Curiosity by Isabel Thomas and Aaron Cushley

Wonderfully written and illustrated, this is a fascinating bedtime read for curious little minds that are absolutely fizzing with questions.  

Wonder The Natural History Museum Poetry Book edited by Ana Sampson

This stunning, giftable, keepable collection of poems by a wide range of incredible poets captures all the joy and wonder of science. One to return to over and over again 

Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay and Henry Paker 

Insightful and informative, this is a truly hilarious read that children will love. Funny books are a powerful thing and when funny meets factswell, that’s something special!   

Navigating Our World   

Here We Are Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

An absolutely stunning book and a comforting and uplifting introduction to life and the world we live in. I come back to this one often and it’s a go-to gift for little ones.  

Why Do I Feel Like This? by ShinsukeYoshitake 

A clever and creative picture book that follows a child’s train of thought as they examine their feelings and how they experience the world. Shinsuke Yoshitake’s books are masterful and always incredible at exploring what it means to be human but in a way that is beautifully child-centric 

Respect by Rachel Brian

Beautiful in its simplicity and accessibility, this is a powerful little comic about consent and personal boundaries. An important conversation-starter and a guide to navigating life.  

Growing Up Black in Britain by Stuart Lawrence and others

An inspiring anthology of thought-provoking stories sharing the experience of growing up Black in Britain. A book that is bold, honest, and ultimately so hopeful.   

Stand Up and Speak Out Against Racism by Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Aleesha Nandhra 

Brightly coloured and vividly illustrated, this little book is a powerful introduction to racism, what it is, and how to stand against it. A beautiful empathy-boosting book that will open up meaningful conversations and inspire young activists and allies.  

Musical Truth by Jeffrey Boakye and Ngadi Smart

An eye-opening exploration of Black British history structured around a playlist of 28 songs. The writing is sharp, fresh and entertaining and the book is heartbreaking in places but still so incredibly joyous and hopeful. This one needs to be in every home, classroom and library. 

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