Book reviews - non fiction ages 5-7 (page 2)

We have reviewed some of the best new non fiction around. There are so many wonderful books being published today that it can be hard to choose, so take a look at the ideas below and then browse in your local bookshop or library. Most are for KS1 but many can also be used by Early Years teachers. Included in these reviews are many books from Hachette (Hodder, Wayland, Orchard and Franklin Watts) - these are excellent classroom and school library resources. We have also included here some non-fiction for pre-schoolers.

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

This unusual book does exactly what it says - shows us creatures actual size. From the Atlas Moth, who takes up two pages, to an elephant's foot, which also takes up huge pages through many more animals, this book is a super way of helping children to visualise exactly how big these creatures are. For comparison, we see tiny creatures agaist the large, so the dwarf goby is set against the Atlas Moth. The illustrations are really eye-catching and memorable, made more so by the comparisons. We are also given the dimensions. The book ends with a summary of information about each animal, which is excellent support for the book.

Spot the Bird on the Building Site by Sarah Khan

This book, which really falls between non-fiction, picture and activity books, is an excellent way to introduce young children to the concept of non-fiction, while keeping the attractive look of a picture book along with inter-activity; the combination works well. There is so much to see on a building site, from deafening diggers to towering cranes, and they are all here to be explored through bright detailed pictures and engaging text. Children are encouraged to look for hidden objects on every page, as well as spotting the hidden bird on each page. Thefascinating pictures offer lots of opportunity for discussion, for expanding vocabulary and for increasing knowledge.

Would You Rather: Have a Shark for a Sister or a Ray for a Brother? by Camilla de le Bédoyère

These intriguingly titled books will certainly capture children's attention, encouraging them to pick the books up and have a browse - and that's half the battle. Once they have opened the books, they will find the approach enthralling and they will love to ponder over the options. The Would you Rather? question approach looks at the world of sharks, from their amazing senses to the variety of waters they inhabit; as they learn, readers will decide what they'd rather eat, where they'd rather live and what super senses they'd rather have. With no wrong or right answer, there are endless possibilities for discussion and extra facts and notes at the end of book encourage the reader to come up with their own questions. A really good approach which makes the most of children's natural inquisitiveness and encourages thought and discussion.

Would You Rather: Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot? by Camilla de le Bédoyère

Would you rather live with a snail, a family of termites, a bookworm or a tick? Make your choice, then turn the page to find out just what you have let yourself in for as you discover the revolting eating habits of bugs. The illustrations by Mel Howells are lively and engaging, with lovely insect characters along with a somewhat perplexed looking child - and who wouldn't be, given the questions he has to answer? It's an amusing appraoch with lots of learning value, consolidated by a page of fun activities at the end.

On the Construction Site (Shine-A Light Books) by Carron Brown

This innovative series from Ivy Kids takes the concept of lift-the-flap books, which allow children to see inside pictures and takes it a step further. As the book is held up to the light, or a light is shone through, young readers will be able to discover how large buildings are constructed, who builds them, and all about the amazing machines they use in the process. Children are perennially fascinated by big machines and there are plenty in this book to enjoy. Each page poses a question, which is answered by looking through at the next page. A clever concept.

Secrets of Winter (Shine-A Light Books) by Carron Brown

Engaging interactive text and attractive pictures help children learn about what happens outside during winter, and how animals survive. It's full of surprises and children will love the unusual presentation. Although I have put these books as suitable for 5-7 year olds, because of the concept and text level, I do recommend that adults help their children use them. They are quite large heavy books so to hol them up to the light without risk of tearing, adult hands are best. Beautiful pictures show the habitats and the information in both books is complemented by the glossary at the back

Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? by Camilla de le Bédoyère

Children come up with some really odd questions sometimes and we marvel at the way their minds work. Often, there is a basis of fact behind what they ask and this intriguing series of books takes really child-friendly look at the world around us and answers many strange questions. The engaging presentation allows readers to imagine animals in everyday scenarios - in this case, the blue whale, allowing them to learn about their size, diet and other features. The question and answer format will keep young readers entertained and help them to understand and retain animal facts. Amusing illustrations are perfectly matched to the pictures - so we see the whale in a swimming cap and blowing up 250 balloons with one breath! It's great fun but it's also factual; there's a map to show where the blue whale lives too.

Could a Shark do Gymnastics? by Camilla de le Bédoyère

This lively and engaging introduction to the life of a great white shark will fascinate and amaze young children. By taking everysay situations and putting the great white shark into them, children will see just how these fabulous creatures would fit into our world. Just imagine if a shark went to the dentist - he would be there a long time as he has nearly 240 teeth! Readers will learn about the size, diet and other features of the great white shark in a way they will enjoy and find easy to remember. It's a fun approach and will appeal especially to those who prefer to read non-fiction. Look out for more in the series.

My Little Book of... Sharks by Camilla de le Bédoyère

Good non-fiction for KS1 is really important, to set children off on a journey of exploration and to establish good reading and learning habits. This excellent series from QED has all the right attributes - high quality photographs to attract attention; simple chunks of text, carefully selected to informand to be easy to read; clear layout with good use of fact boxes; and important reference items including an index and glossary. Learn all about not only famous sharks such as the Great White and the Hammerhead, but also discover sharks that you never knew existed. For example, did you know there is a Pyjama Shark? Or that the biggest shark is also the biggest fish on earth? The colour photos extend over two pages, giving plenty of opportunity to see these creatures in all their glory, and there are plenty of interesting facts.

My Little Book of... Volcanoes & Earthquakes by Claudia Martin

Children are fascinated by major phenomena and this book will answer many questions. - what happens when a volcano erupts? What causes earthquakes? Can we predict earthquakes? Combining easy-to-read text with stunning photographs, learn how and why volcanoes occur, the largest and most dangerous and how we try and live with earthquakes today. Again, many of the photos run across two pages, giving ample scope to really show the immensity of volcanoes and earthquakes. There are also close up photos, set out clearly in round boxes, which can be clearly related to the larger photo. The book also makes good use of maps, presented simply to suit young children, abd a good way to introduce them to different regions of the world. These are detailed books, with 64 pages in total, offering excellent value for money and a really comprehensive look at the topics which will also suit younger KS2 pupils.

The Election by Eleanor Levenson

An enjoyable picture book for young children that explains, through a fun story with engaging illustrations, what an election is and how voting works. Alex's family backs the party whose posters have stripes on them. Evie's family backs the party whose posters have spots on them. But which party will win? The important message that comes across is that, regardless of the result, the two will remain friends. The election process is very simply and clearly explained through the medium of an enjoyable story. This is the first UK book of its kind and has backing from elected representatives of all major political parties. Very topical for 2015 and an excellent way to explain to children about an issue that will be very much to the forefront - an ideal classroom resource. This is the first book from new publisher Fisherton Press - I'm looking forward to seeing what else comes along after this excellent start..

I Explore The Zoo by Emma Dods

This birghtly coloured board book is an excellent way to introduce pre-school children to the concept of non fiction books and to finding out about the world around them - it would be a rare child who did not enjoy a visit to the zoo! Join the zookeeper as he goes about his day's work, meeting the animals on the way and finding out interesting facts about them. The eye-catching cover with its shiny embossed pictures captures attention from the start, encouraging children to pick the book up. Well presented, clear to follow and with a surprise fold-out to enjoy at the end.

Ballerina! (Imagine You're a...) by Meg Clibbon

Written with a little help from Lucy Leotard and Margot Fountainpen! Many girls dream of becoming a ballerina - now this role-play activity book allows them to explore everything a potential ballerina needs to know. It's a wide ranging book with ballet-inspired crafts, advice on accessories, the history of ballet and more. It's full of humorously quirky detail - you'll spot more when you re-read! The illustrations are superb and add a great deal to the information. A super book for all young ballet fans with engaging and lively presentation.

Snow Babies by Camilla de le Bédoyère

This book packed full of enchanting photos of all sorts of baby animals in snowy habitats will capture the hearts of young children. 22 baby creatures are each depicted in a range of pictures across a two page spread, with accompanying simple information ideal for young readers. Find out what the baby animals are called, where they live and what they eat as well as other facts - and enjoy the superb photography.

Teacher (People Who Help Us) by Rebecca Hunter

Children will enjoy seeing exactly what teachers do all day - and not just when in front of their class. Excellent colour photos show Paul as he enjoys his day of teaching, with plenty of varied activities. Clear descriptive text will engage the reader and the useful glossary explains unfamiliar words. This is one in an extensive series from Tulip Books which will be invaluable in the Early Years/KS1 classroom where children learn about people who help us. Other titles include Lifeboat Crew Member, Farmer and Recycling Officer among more common occupations - a great variety.

Look Inside Our World from Usborne

Geography and geology could sound boring for young children - but not in this book! Facts are definitely more interesting for children when presented in ana engaging way - and life the flap books always capture their attention. In this book, many of the sentences start on the flap and are finished underneath it; other flaps cover a vast amount of supplementary information. Seven double pages teach about rivers, forests, deserts and more - an excellent way to introduce the subject and engender an interest in further learning.

Wonderwise: Chomp! Munch! Chew!: A book about how animals eat by Karen Wallace

Every animal has its own way of feeding and this book explores the fascinating variety. Cows chew grass, snails scrape grass; giraffes strectch up, warthogs dig down. Lively presentation with engaging pictures and an attractive font which weaves its way through the pictures make this an allealing early learning book - and there is much of interest; even adults will learn something new!

Lift the Flap Questions and Answers about Animals from Usborne

Young children always enjoy the novelty of lift the flap books and this one is ideal for young fingers. The flaps are big and the board pages mean the book will withstand many hours of enthusiastic handling. The book answers intriguing and child-friendly where, how, why, yes or no, which, what and who questions about animals all around the world. The entertaining style of the pictures will engage readers and there are more to enjoy under the flaps. The book offers plenty of opportunity for adults to expand on the pictures and text, furthering children's interest and knowledge. A super introduction to animals.

See What a Seal Can Do (Nature Storybooks) by Christine Butterworth

This book neatly combines a factual book about seals with the appearance of a storybook - in fact, it can be enjoyed just like a storybook with the added bonus that children will be learning interesting facts along the way. They will marvel at facts such as "They can stay underwater for up to 15 minutes and dive to depths of 300 feet to find their prey." Even at a young age, some children express a preference for fact over fiction so this book will appeal. It is stunningly illustrated by Kate Nelms, with rich use of colour and amazing detail. The notes to parents and teachers ensure full value is obtained from the book and the illustrations of eight different types of seal enhance knowledge. Perfect to complement KS1/2 science.

My Little Book of Space by Peter Grego

Children are fascinated by space and it's so easy for all of us to share the wonder simply by going out and enjoying the night sky. And then come in and answer their questions with the help of this clear and easily understandabe book. What is the sun? Where does Earth fit into the solar system? Which planet is 1321 times the size of Earth? Well illusrated throughout and with an easy to follow layout, this book really does answer the questions childfren ask and it's a great way to encourage them to observe, then read and learn.

Flip the Flaps: Weather by Dr Mike Goldsmith

I am really impressed with this book. Its lively presentation will attract children's attention and flipping the flaps to change the picture is always a good way to generate interest - and adults can extend the value by asking children to say what they think they might see. One side of each flap poses questions which are answered on the other as well. Weather is such a good topic for children - it affects almost every aspect of their lives so they have a keen interest in how it works. The explanations are simple and easy to understand and the complementary illustrations give additional information. This is one in an extensive series - do look out for more.

I Explore! Under the Sea by Mike Goldsmith

It's such a pleasure to see non fiction books for pre-schoolers. There is little on the market and this new series - under Egmont Books new non-fiction imprint, Red Shed - fill a gap. These are board books, so even young children can be encouraged to start learning about and exploring their world. Starting from a boat on the sea, the book gradually takes children deeper and deeper and darker and darker under the sea and they meet all sorts of creatures - and a pirate shipwreck. The clever bit comes at the end - a fold out that allows them to see all the sea, top to bottom, in one go. It shows many of the things they have seen earlier in the book, so they will recognise and be able to name them. Colourful and fun, this is a lovely book to start children enjoying fact books.

I Explore Digging for Dinosaurs by Mike Goldsmith

A dig is under way to uncover a dinosaur fossil. Children can find out what happens from first discovery right up to display in the museum. Key items are labelled and there are lots of questions to stimulate discussion. The style is friendly and approachable with plenty in the pictures to capture children's attention. Both this and Under the Sea feature a double page fold out flap at the end - in this book, it gives the opportunity to show a long dinosaur skeleton.

Maisy's World of Animals: A Maisy First Science Book by Lucy Cousins

Let one of children's favourite story book characters take them on a journey through the wonders of the animal kingdom. From polar bears at the North Pole to penguins at the South Pole, children will love exploring the flaps and learning simple animal facts in this colourful book. The highlight for me is the monkeys swinging through the trees! It gives adults lots of opportunities to talk about the creatures shown and every page has animals to spot. An ideal introduction for toddlers of 18+ months.

Astronomy (Usborne Beginners) by Emily Bone

Good quality non fiction for this age group is a real boon and the Usborne Beginners is an excellent series. With its easy reading text, it is ideal for those learning to read who enjoy non fiction books. This is a basic introduction to astronomy which answers many of the topics which interest children - what's in space, stargazing, the Milky Way. The text is accessible and easy to follow and the excellent quality of the photography and presentation will encourage children to learn more. The book is well laid out to encourage learning with a good index, glossary and list of further resources.

Peep Inside Animal Homes by Anna Milbourne

This is an absolutely delightful way to introduce children to a wide variety of animal homes. The vibrant pages are packed with flaps to explore with lots of facts on the pages and under the flaps. Cleverly done - a double flap makes the beehive; the stable door opens top and bottom. Not just flaps either - there are lots of intriguingly cut holes to peep through as well - I love the tracery of the tree which hides a wealth of animal homes. This is an excellent way to encourage children to observe the world around them and offers endless opportunities for discussion. One of the best non fiction books for young children that I have ever seen.

Wonderwise: My Body, Your Body: A book about human and animal bodies Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

Such a great pairing - these two produce wonderful books and this surprising look at bodies of all sorts is no exception. The good size illustrations, and the combination of animal and human bodies, make this ideal for KS1 children studying 'Ourselves'. It encourages children to think with a series of stimulating questions and there are plenty of intriguing facts about bodies. Simple and easy to follow with easy activity ideas at the end.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Water by Jen Green

Water is one of our most precious resources and we need to do our bit to conserve it - although looking out of the window today after the wettest January on record, I do wonder! We do tend to take water for granted and this book really makes us think about just how much we use - and the pollution that waste water causes. It's an easy to read book which focuses on topics familiar to children, so they can easily see the relevance and how we can all play a part in reducing, reusing and recycling. Plenty of photos add interest.

Popcorn: Countries: Pakistan by Alice Harman

Popcorn is a colourful series aimed at young readers - there are two levels of text in this book; good size clear print for the body of the text and detailed captions for each photograph. Children will learn about the geography of the country and people's everyday lives including shopping, food, sports and homes - and they can even learn some Urdu! Informative and interesting, an ideal first country book.

My Country: Brazil by Annabel Savery

My Country is an easy-to-read series in which a child introduces his or her country including the weather, climate, landscape, home, pastimes, school and the people who live there. Here it is Natalia who shows children around her country with the aid of plenty of photos. There will be plenty of interest in Brazil so it's good for children to learn about the country which will hist great sporting events. The book has useful teachimg at literacy notes at the start to ensure maximum benefit.

Animals Are Amazing: Tigers by Valerie Bodden

This is just one in an extensive series which will make an excellent series for class or school library use - I love the simple white covers which feature a single stunning image of each animal. The clear layout and excellent use of photography continues inside the books. There is a full page photo of tigers with simple information presented on the opposing page. Ideal to teach young children some of the main facts and features that make tigers so special. The book concludes with a brief story from Asia which introduces the idea of animals in mythology and storytelling.

I Love Hugs by Camilla de la Bédoyère

Part picture book, part fact book, this is an excellent way to introduce young children to the world of animals and the way they show affection. All sorts of animals from elephants to pandas are included, all shown in adorable photographs that children will love. There are many types of hugs - hugs to stay safe; hugs for warmth and hugs to show love. The easy-to-read text is perfect to share with young children as you snuggle up together for your very own hugs. make this perfect for young readers. Explore loving and caring as you share and discuss this book together.

Little Kids First Big Book Of The Ocean (National Geographic Little Kids) by Catherine D Hughes

I am thrilled by the books I have reviewed from National Geographic, particularly by the layout and presentation which will appeal to both young and old. This is an accessible and friendly way for young readers to learn about the wonders of ocean life. Arranged by the major oceans, this colourful book introduces more than 30 marine creatures and plants to amaze us all. There is a box of facts for each, bubbles with interesting facts andeven more information in the text; all this is rounded off by a series of superb photographs - over 200 of them. Helpful tips for parents mean they can get the most out of sharing this excellent book with their children.

Working Wheels: Fire Engine by Annabel Savery

A good subject for a book as many schools are fortunate enough to have fire engines visit or firefighters come to talk, so this will be good support for that. And, of course, children may well see these vehicles out and about so it's good for them to know what goes on and how firefighters help us. There are some well labelled pictures of fire appliances and the various vehicles are shown and their uses explained with excellent photography of the appliances in action - all very exciting for young children.

France (My Country) by Annabelle Lynch

Camille introduces children to her country with plenty of bright action-packed photos and accompanying text. The book mainly focuses on everyday life and how people live - school, food, festivals and families. There is also information to put the country into its geographical context and a useful page of facts. The presentation is lively and appealing with good use of fact boxes. Camille poses questions for the reader, helping them to engage with the book and discover the similarities and differences.

Bright Light (Now You Know Science) by Terry Jennings

A first introduction to light which is presented in such an appealing way that children will really be encouraged and motivated to take an interest in science. This colourful book shows how light works to help us see, whether sunlight or artificial light. Minimal text with plenty of pictures discuss lots of forms of light and how they work for us. Children are encouraged to think by questions such as what would a house be like without windows? There are also questions at the end to check understanding.

Look Inside: Space (Look Inside) by Rob Lloyd Jones

Space - a topic of infinite interest to children and this lift-the-flap book is perfect for younger children. It's packed with fascinating information, with each major topic (such as glittering galaxies and bright starlight) having a two page spread and lots of pictures, plus a big centrefold on the solar system. The information is easy to understand, well explained and the book is an excellent springboard for further discovery. The last page poses plenty of stimulating questions - just another way the book gets children involved. There's something about space that makes this format especially good - perhaps the way the excitement of large-scale discovery by eager children and the way it encourages investigation. The excellence of the book has recently been confirmed by the fact it won The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.
Larry Gets Lost in Prehistoric Times by John Skewes and Andrew Fox
This is an enjoyable way for young children to learn about the prehistoric workd. Adorable pup Larry gets lost again! Falling asleep, he travels back in time, and starts by meeting some dinosaurs,big and small. Then he's off to the Ice Ages and an encounter with a Woolly Mammoth, and on to the cavemen of the Stone Age. Will the pup find his way back to the modern world? This journey through time helps young children put prehistory into context and the bright artwork will help them remember what they have learnt. The book is full of interesting facts as well as a fun story. Published by Sasquatch Books, October 2013, ISBN 9781570618628.

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber

The wonderful world of the honey bee is explained for young children as they follow a tiny honey bee as she sets off from the hive for the first time. The story shows how cleverly bees use sunlight, landmarks, and scents to remember their path as they fly off in search of pollen and nectar to share with the thousands of other bees in her hive. The book ties in well with children learning about minibeasts and life cycles in Foundation Stage and at KS1 and the vivid illustrations will help the facts to be remembered. The language is powerful - "She crawls under a leaf as hailstone bombs explode around her" - descriptive and vivid indeed.

Minibeasts: Ladybird First Fabulous Facts from Ladybird Books

I like the way the cover of this book differs from most books on minibeasts - instead of a colour close-up, it's bright and inviting with cartoons, which makes it feel more like a book for enjoyment at home rather than a textbook. The engaging presentation continues inside with lots of facts about creepy crawlies which will interest young children and encourage them to observe the creatures in the world around them. It's well laid out, with a mix of text styles, colour photos which include close-ups and cartoon-style illustrations. The facts are just right to interest young ones and for them to remember and learn - did you know that butterflies taste food with their feet or that bees have five eyes?

Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur A to Z from Ladybird Books

Learn your Dino A-Z with Dinosaur Train in this chunky board book based on Dinosaur Train, the new pre-school animation from Henson, creators of Muppets and Sesame Street. Dinosaur TRain is shown on Nick Jnr everyday at 3pm. Little ones can find out if their favourite character is a meat-eater or a plant-eater; which period they lived in and where on earth they lived. Buddy and Tiny introduce 26 incredible dinosaurs - some of which only the enthusiast will have heard of before! Luckily, the pronunciation is given! I like the mini world map on each page which shows where the creature lived - a good way to introduce the concept to little children..

A is for Africa (World Alphabet) by Ifeoma Onyefulu

This is the book that led to a whole wonderful series awakening children to the life and culture of other countries. A full colour photographic journey through everyday village life in Africa - ordinary lives so children can compare and contrast their own experiences, giving excellent opportunities for discussion.  Ifeoma Onyefulu's lens reveals not only traditional crafts and customs, but also the African sense of occasion and fun, in images that will delight children the world over. The pictures, with their emphasison people (young and old) really take the reader inside the life and culture with their richness and immediacy. The personal note from the author at the beginning explains how and why she created the book and it certainly shows us the traditional values, family life and hospitality she wanted to share with her readers.

Librarian (People Who Help Us) by Rebecca Hunter

This is part of a very useful series about people children will encounter in their everyday lives, and it fits excellently with FS and KS1 studies of People Who Help Us. Each book is based on a real person - here it is Valerie who works in a public library in Belfast and we see her at work in the library and out on a mobile library as well as working with children. There's lots about how libraries work and this would be ideal to read with a class before visiting the library. Specially commissioned photography shows exactly what happens in the library and key words are highlighted and explained in the glossary.

The Jewish Faith (Start-up Religion) by Ruth Nason

The book takes the reader into the home of Samuel and Rebecca and shows how their faith affects their lives. It explores what happens at Hanukkah, how the family celebrate Shabbat and what is a mezuzah; children are encouraged to think about what they are learning by a series of questions relating to the pictures. The book expands on the daily happenings by looking at the stories behind festivals such as Hanukkah and the foods that are eaten at these special times. Key words are highlighted in the text and at the bottom of the pages and are then explained in the glossary. The section 'Further information for parents and teachers' is particularly valuable as it gives background information and a whole range of selected activities which give lots of ideas for classroom use. The Start-Up Religion series is developed specifically to support units in the RE Schemes of Work for KS1.

Garden (Sparklers - Out and About) by Katie Dicker

It's really important to encourage children to get out and about and to find pleasure in exploring the world around us - and the earlier we encourage this, the better. This is one of a series which supports the Early Years curriculum and it's engaging style really appealed to me. Photos of children enjoying the garden form the background of every page, and simple text explains what is happening and poses questions to help children think about what is happening around them. The Notes for Adults have ideas based on every page to extend the value of the book and these are especially useful now more and more schools are providing areas for children to grow plants.

Polar Workout (Sparklers - Body Moves) by Clare Hibbert

What an innovative idea and one that will be welcomed in the Early Years classroom. The series takes a look at a specific environment and then suggests a range of physical activities inspired by that region. Excellent to support topic work and also as a stand-alone activity. In Polar Workout, we have ideas such as 'waddle like a penguin' and 'slide like a seal going into the sea' which encourage children to think about animals and how they move; there are also questions to engage them further. The books I have seen in the Sparklers series so far have impressed me greatly - the vibrant layout and simple text will engage the youngest reader and help to give them an early love for books and reading.

Carrots (What Grows in My Garden) by Anne Rooney

In today's world, where children are so detached from the growing process, books like this play an important part and I was delighted to see this new series. The books both help to show children how fruits and vegetables grow (the series also includes apples, lettuces and tomatoes) and encourage them to grow their own. It's also good encouragement towards getting our Five a Day. Well chosen text makes this a good early reader. The colour photos are excellent - I like the way other root vegetables are also pictured growing and children will be surprised at the variety of colours of carrots!

My Clever Brain (Inside Me) by Lauren Taylor

Another very good first book from QED - one in a series which helps young children understand more about their bodies. Like the What Grows in My Garden series, there are excellent early readers, with simple sentences, and good for those children who prefer factual writing. Colourful pages and good clear photos show children how the brain works and explains how to keep it healthy. Other books in the series cover bones, heart and stomach. An excellent simple introduction to the wonders of the human body.

At School (How Have Things Changed) by James Nixon

When I was working in a school library, this was exactly the sort of book I was always on the lookout for. In KS1 children study the history of schools and this book is the ideal basis for project work. The highly visual presentation really helps children to imagine what it would have been like to write on a slate or learn all of your lessons by heart. School in the past was very different to school today but some things haven't changed. We still learn maths, English, history and geography; we play at break time and eat school meals. There are plenty of questions, highlighted in boxes, which really help children think about what is the same and what has changed - these are excellent prompts for teachers.

Magnet Magic (Now You Know Science) by Terry Jennings

Magnetism fascinates children and the great thing about it is that it is such a simple process to demonstrate in everyday life. This simple introduction explains magnetism in easy to follow language, with excellent diagrams and photos to illustrate the principles. There are questions for children to answer and activities to try, all of which use readily obtainable resources.

Martin Luther King (Inspirational Lives) by Jen Green

Martin Luther King should be an inspiration to us all. Illustrated throughout with contemporary photos , the text is clear and enjoyable to read.  'Inspiration', 'Top tip' 'Honours board' and 'Wow' boxes all help to clarify and extend the text as well as being an attractive feature. The page on 'Have you got what it takes to campaign for a cause?' is a good basis for class discussion. Inspirational Lives is an extensive series which focuses on the people who inspire children today. Their background, life, chievements of a personality, their impact on popular culture and how they achieved success are all covered.

Martin Luther King (History Makers) by Sarah Ridley

A very well set out and easy to follow account of the life of an important character. Clear subject headings, easy to read font with well chosen language and plenty of photos combine to make a very useful classroom or library resource. The book includes a clear timeline which runs along the bottom of every page and puts the events into a clear context for young children. This series is a good way to introduce KS1 children to important world leaders and people of influence. The books include teaching notes and literacy guidelines and additional resources can be downloaded from

Life Cycle of a Chicken (Life Cycles) by Ruth Thomson

An author familiar with writing at the right level for children combined with a literacy consultant means that this book is perfectly levelled for KS1 children. Always a popular topic, this gives a clear and concise introduction to the lifecycle of a chicken with plenty of bright attractive photos to capture interest. There's a pop up egg to make at the end of the book - a perfect classroom activity.

China (Popcorn: Countries) by Alice Harman

A colourful book about China and its culture for children in KS1. Children can learn everyday life in China - food, shopping, sports, holidays, weather and homes are all covered. There are some Mandarin words to learn too, as well as a dragon puppet to make. Colourful backgrounds, plenty of photos and well integrated text make for an appealing book.

The Life Cycle of a Cat (Learning About Life Cycles) by Ruth Thomson

Children love fluffy kittens, of course, so they will enjoy learning about the way a kitten develops. The photos show development week by week and there are plenty of excellent photos of cats in different settings too. Key words are highlighted in bold and explained in the glossary. A simple photo summary at the end is a good conclusion.

Kitten (My New Pet) by Jinny Johnson

Owning a new kitten can be great fun, but it also brings responsibility, which is clearly explained here for young children. What a kitten eats and drinks, and the toys it likes to play with and how to keep it safe are described and illustrated. There are five titles in the series My New Pet. Each title will help young readers learn how to care for and handle some popular household pets. A slightly different format to most Franklin Watts books gives this series a little more of the feel of a handbook rather than a classroom learning resource.

At School (Be An Eco Hero) by Susan Barraclough

An important topic and one which needs to be familiar from a young age, so our children grow up knowing how to look after our precious resources. This straightforward and factual book looks at the familiar environment of school and discusses how we use resources and how we can all take practical steps to conserve resources. It's practical and packed with ways that children can help to make a difference, and will also stimulate classroom discussion.

Digger (Working Wheels) by Annabel Savery

Boys are fascinated by big machines, so this is a series which will encourage boys to read so they can find out more about these great beasts. Diggers are exciting machines - they work in quarries, digging and lifting and this book shows the diggers carrying out many different tasks. The page at the end on digger activities is brilliant for teachers as it shows how the book can be linked to work on history, design, science, geography and literacy - truly a cross-curricular resource.

In a City (Popcorn: Where I Live) by Honor Head

In KS1, children learn about their own and other localities, so this series which includes seaside, villages and islands, is ideal background material. Here, Joel, who lives in a big city, introduces children to his world - London. He shows us everyday life plus lots of the great toutist sights, and there's a picture quiz at the end.

Dinosaurs (It's Amazing) by Annabel Savery

This book is packed with the sort of amazing facts that will make your child go "Wow!" Did you know that the Tyrannosaurus Rex could run at over 30 kilometres an hour? Or that the diplodocus' neck could be as long as eight metres? This series are ideal first topic books - they show children how information can be gathered together and presented. The range of topics will appeal greatly to children and they will really want to read them, which is a great incentive to encourage learning to read. The brightly coloured backgrounds make the book really appealing.

Wash and Clean (Healthy Habits) by Susan Barraclough

Keeping clean helps all animals, including humans of course, to stay healthy. The book explores the different ways in which animals wash their bodies, groom themselves and keep their teeth clean. Explained with the aid of excellent colour photos, we see how humans and elephants clean off mud; how humans and monkeys groom themselves and how humans and crocodiles clean their teeth. Children will be fascinated by the different ways we reach the same goals. Healthy Habits is an attractive and child-friendly series which takes fundamental issues, common to human and animals, which are needed for good heatth, and explains how they apply to both humans and to other species.

Sleep and Rest (Healthy Habits) by Susan Barraclough

Humans and animals - sleeping and resting are essential to allow us all to grow, heal and stay healthy. It's an appealing approach for children as they will enjoy seeing the different ways in which animals carry out these essential functions. There is practical advice on getting a good night's sleep and again, the book is illustrated throughout with excellent photography.

Rabbits (See How They Grow) by Kathryn Walker

Young children will enjoy this book about the stages in the life cycle of a rabbit. From birth to adulthood, we see what rabbits eat, where they live, the different types and their characteristics. It would be a lovely present for any child who owns, or is about to own, a rabbit, so they can find out about wild and domestic rabbits - there is a section on caring for domestic rabbits. The excellent colour photos are really appealing and clearly depict rabbits in their habitat, so increasing children's understanding.

Florence Nightingale (History Makers) by Sarah Ridley

In KS1, children learn about Florence Nightingale, so this clearly laid out book will be a very useful resource. The print is large, the layout clear and the key features of glossary, index and contents page help children to learn early reference skills. Florence Nightingale was famous for being the "Lady with the Lamp" and for her incredible achievements in the Crimea. An inspirational and brilliant woman who has changed the face of nursing is profiled for young readers. The contemporary illustrations are an excellent feature.

My First Book of Farm Animals from TickTock Books

This really is a super book! When I saw it, I thought it looked really substantial for a KS1 book and I was delighted when I saw the quality of the content. All the normal farm animals are here, but the scope of this book is so much wider - there are llamas, bison, water buffalo, deer and many more. This is an excellent way to learn about the variety of animals kept by man all around the world. There are lots of photos on each page, plus plenty of information - and a 'fantastic fact' about each creature. It's visually very appealing and the content is excellent - there's also a very useful glossary.

Penguin (Wild Things!) by Lisa Regan

Just imagine! There's a penguin (or a tiger, monkey or elephant) ringing your doorbell.  How would you look after it? Where would it sleep? What would it eat and how would you play with it? Presented in a really delightful way, this series of books shows the young reader just what it would be like having these creatures living in your own home - penguins are smelly and have odd eating habits; tigers eat rather a lot and aren't fussy about whether their food is fresh; monkeys ejnoy sunbathing and will bite anything they see ; we all know elephants are very big but they are also very LOUD.  There is a glossary and further factsheet at the end of every book.This is a super way for children to learn about wild animals and how they live, presented in a really entertaining and amusing way. Children will agree that these creatures don't make great pets!

Penguin (Wild Things!) by Lisa Regan

Just imagine! There's a penguin (or a tiger, monkey or elephant) ringing your doorbell.  How would you look after it? Where would it sleep? What would it eat and how would you play with it? Presented in a really delightful way, this series of books shows the young reader just what it would be like having these creatures living in your own home - penguins are smelly and have odd eating habits; tigers eat rather a lot and aren't fussy about whether their food is fresh; monkeys ejnoy sunbathing and will bite anything they see ; we all know elephants are very big but they are also very LOUD.  There is a glossary and further factsheet at the end of every book.This is a super way for children to learn about wild animals and how they live, presented in a really entertaining and amusing way. Children will agree that these creatures don't make great pets!

 My Family Celebrates Easter by Cath Senker

Children learn well by understanding the experiences of other children, so this book which tells how Freddie and his family celebrate Easter will be easy for them to understand and enjoy. Children will learn about the meaning of Easter, the reason it is celebrated and the events which lead up to the Easter festival, starting with Lent. Easter celebrations in other countries are introduced and there are recipes to try out. It is a simple straightforward explanation which will greatly help children's appreciation. The book includes literacy guidelines and teaching notes.

Bumblebee (Life Cycles - Popcorn) by Ruth Thomson

Bumblebee follows the life cycle of these all-important insects, from the queen laying her eggs in the nest to worker bees collecting nectar for grubs. Simple language, clear font and layout and bright background colours combine to makea very readable book. The bee life cycle is illustrated on a separeta page and there is a bee mobile to make, making a useful extension to classroom work. It's an eye-catching cover, too, and the photos throughout are exceptional, with some wonderful close-ups to help us appreciate the beauty of these little creatures.

Eat and Drink (Healthy Habits) by Sue Barraclough

The book describes how all animals use energy to grow, work and stay healthy, and looks at how a healthy, balanced diet gives us the right amount of energy. Healthy Habits is an approachable and enjoyable series that helps young readers to investigate the differences and similarities between the human and the animal world.  We know how important it is for children to establish healthy habits from a young age is this is an excellent series to gently encourage this. 

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