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

We have reviewed some of the best new non fiction available. There are so many wonderful books being published now that it can be hard to choose, so take a look at the ideas below and then browse in your local bookshop or library. Many of these books are also excellent classroom/library resources, so there's plenty here for teachers.

The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.

The History of Prehistory by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom

Take a journey through prehistory from the first life on earth to the beginning of recorded history. Use your imagination as you travel through the ages and discover that the Rhizodont was the largest freshwater fish that ever lived and how cave paintings were created 40,000 years ago. Lots of interesting facts and amazing illustrations, this is a great introduction to prehistory for younger children. A glossary is included and a timeline game at the end will help you to remember the chronology of those periods of time.

Little Adventurers: Airport by Jonny Marx

Whether your family is looking forward to flying off on holiday, or you just want to increase your child's knowledge of the world around us, there's plenty to enjoy in this colourful lift-the-flap book. There are dozens of flaps to lift, revealing information and pictures under each one. The book takes readers on a journey from start to finish, from check-in to the runway, on board and finally to the destination airport. There’s a paper plane and other objects to spot in every scene, a jet-setting family to find and a gatefold finale, so plenty to keep young readers engaged and informed.

Space (Scratch and Learn) by Victoria Fernandez

Each two page spread of the seven in this unique scratch and discover format book explores a different space theme. From building space rockets, to exploring our solar system, collecting moon rocks and whizzing through the asteroids – this is an appealing, interactive introduction to space. Children of this age enjoy the interaction with books offered by aspects such as scratch pens, and they do help to make facts memorable and to encourage children to linger over the pages, thus taking in knowledge more firmly.

Scratch and Learn Animals by Victoria Fernandez

There are seven spreads, each visiting a different habitat to scratch and explore. From the rainforest to the ocean, the sesert to Antarctica, many of the world’s best-loved animals and habitats are featured. This is an appealing, interactive first introduction to animals. The pen slots into a holder inside the back cover, meaning the book closes fully so it fits easily on the bookshelf. Even when the interactive element has been carried out, children are left with a useful reference book to which they will return time and again.

A Planet Full of Plastic: and how you can help​ by Neal Layton

It's really important that we encourage even the youngest children to be aware of the problems of over-use of plastic - they are the ones who will influence our future so they need to start off with the right principles. The book clearly shows where plastic comes from, why it doesn't biodegrade, and why that's dangerous for animals and humans alike. The positive side is the plethora of ideas for how you we can all help. From giving up straws in juice cartons to recycling all we can and taking part in a beach clean, A Planet Full of Plastic will get young readers excited about how they can make a difference to keep Planet Earth happy. We are almost all guilty of taking plastic for granted and the clear explanations in this book really bring the message home for us all - it's something we can work on as families and the practical suggestions given are a great starting point. Excellently written to make everyone feel they have a vital part to play.

Tech Tots: Why do we poo? (TechTots Science) by Harriet Blackford

I'm always really pleased to see non-fiction for pre-schoolers - it's such an inquisitive age, so it's brilliant to encourage them to share books and discover the answers to questions by sharing books with adults. This book uses clear age-appropriate language, coupled with fun-to-do experiments, to take a first look at digestion, what happens when we eat and to the waste left over. Mia, Isla, Seb and Oscar are the Tech Tots who share their story with young readers. The practical experiment is an excellent way to convey information, in a way children will easily remember.

Where Does the Sun Go? (Techtots) by Harriet Blackford

This book answers one of the most common questions children ask, with a clear explanation accompanied by practical activities that can be easily carried out by a group of young children, encouraging them to share their learning in a fun way. The lively characters will appeal to children and the bright illustrations help with understanding and retention. This is a series with a great deal of potential - young children have so many questions to ask and this is the ideal way to answer them, and to develop a love for learning.

All About Feelings from Usborne Books

It's a difficult question... even as adults, we can find it hard to describe our feelings and open up about our thoughts, so just imagine how much harder it is for children with a more restricted vocabulary and less experience of the world. This book successfully addresses these issues in an approachable friendly way as it explores a whole range of emotions. Topics covered include learning to describe feelings, how your feelings can change, and being kind to yourself. Throughout the book, children are shown with very clear face and body language as they show their feelings through speech bubbles. As they read the book, children are encouraged to spot and discuss the emotions depicted, encouraging them to open up in a healthy and rewarding way. There are helpful notes for grown-ups at the back too and links to websites for more advice. This excellent book really succeeds in encouraging children to express and open up about their emotions - it's definitely a book for adult and child to share.

How Did I Get Here? by Philip Bunting

This is a diverting and unusual look at evolution (a topic covered on the school curriculum). It charts the incredible journey from Big Bang to birth very briefly, with just the right amount of detail to engage children's interest. Philip Bunting's hilarious and one of a kind history of evolution was created to raise more questions than it answers. And that's a real strength of the book, in that it encourages children to think and ponder over this big issue, and come to their own conclusions. The lovely illustrations really help to convey the message and will have great appeal for children.

How Big is Our Baby?: A 9-month guide for soon-to-be siblings  by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

This is a lovely way to involve siblings in the exciting beginning of life; it's reassuring and informative. Children are full of questions when a new brother or sister is on the way, and many of these questions focus on how big the baby is. This friendly and reassuring guide explains each step of the pregnancy journey and helps little ones feel involved and excited. With a month-by-month approach that compares the size of the growing baby to something familiar to the young reader, such as a speck of sand at the seaside or an egg, children can really relate to the stages of growth - it's an excellent approach. The book also includes information about how life might change once Baby arrives, giving lots of discussion opportunities. A well though-out book that will be really valued by parents-to-be. Brita Teckentrup's wonderful illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.

Do Sharks Glow in the Dark? (Just Ask) by Mary Kay Carson

Children respond well to the question-and-answer format; it presents information succinctly and they always love to have questions answered. As the book shows, there are many different kinds of sharks and this book gives the answers to lots of shark-tastic questions. Do sharks have skin or scales/ Who looks after the babies? Do sharks have permanent teeth? And, of course, do they glow in the dark? With super colour photos and many amazing close-ups, this book is a mine of information for children to enjoy. Published by Sterling Books, April 2019, ISBN 9781454929925.

Little Explorers: In the Rainforest​ from Templar Books

Rainforests are amazing places and young children will love to explore them through the flaps to lift on every page (there are over 30 flaps to enjoy). Just right for young ones, this is a sturdy board book that will withstand plenty of enthusiastic handling little ones can have hands-on fun finding out about life in the rainforest. Children will learn about the different animals who live together in the rainforest, the different ways the plants help humans today, facts about the largest rainforest in the world, and much much more. The colourful artwork is very child-friendly, with just enough detail to inform, and all the pictures are well labelled. Little Explorers is a first information series for enquiring children - the books really do stimulate them with their colourful approach and simple text - and the flaps, of course!

Little Explorers: When I Grow Up from Templar Books

The jobs that adults do often have children asking questions, so adults will find it a good book to start answering those questions as their child starts to explore the world around them. They can explore the diverse range of jobs that they could do when they grow up, and support a common topic studied in Reception and KS1. As they lift the flaps, they can uncover fascinating facts to supplement the clear factual information on each page. Jobs are grouped by  type, for example food, building and working in the wild. The text and artwork  introduce new concepts and vocabulary in a simple and accessible way which will stimulate discussion. These books are valuable both for pre-schoolers, who will enjoy sharing them with adults, and KS1 children who can read and enjoy them on their own.

The Big Beyond: the Story of Space Travel by James Carter

This is a lovely introduction to space travel for KS1 children, which helps them to share all the wonder through pacy verse that runs right through the book, really picking up on the excitement of space travel. From the early humans who dreamt of wings to the Moon landing, and from spacecraft exploring Mars to the future beyond, it's all here to enjoy and to whet children;s appetites for further exploration. The striking and superbly detailed illustrations by Aaron Cushley complement the verse perfectly and offer lots of opportunities for discussion. Perfect for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Creature Features: Dinosaurs​ by Natasha Durley

This book stands out from the plethora of books about dinosaurs with its vibrantly coloured illustrations and unusual approach to categorising these creatures, which help children see them from a different perspective. Each page shows dinosaurs united by a common characteristic - humongous horns, brilliant beaks and long, long necks are just a few. It's fascinating celebration which celebrates the diversity of the dinosaurs and the animals they lived alongside, with many new creatures being introduced which will not be familiar to children. Children's attention will be held as they answer the spotting questions on each page of this stylishly illustrated book, which is beautifully laid out and presented.

British Museum: This or That? by Pippa Goodhart

This is a brilliant way to stimulate discussion with children as they make their own choices. Based on the superb collections of the British Museum - and what a great way to make children aware of this fabulous resource - readers are encouraged to make choices. Sandals or slippers? Tent or treehouse? Boat or balloon? Each page is full of images of objects (as well as some spotting activities), and each image is listed with a key at the end of the book - a great way to encourage further research. There are hundreds of amazing photographic objects from the British Museum and a QR code so you can find out more. This is a really stimulating book which can be used to great effect to encourage children to make choices and to explain why. Great fun and full of opportunities.

The Story of People: A First Book About Humankind by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams

This is an excellent way to introduce KS1 children to the rich diversity of human life. From the beginnings of life on earth right up to the present day, children will discover the history of mankind and how we have shaped the world around us. Amy Husband's wonderful child-like drawings reflect the way children perceive the world and will encourage them to create their own works of art. The pictures are well labelled and make an excellent starting point for further discovery. The simple text relates well to the illustrations, making it easy for beginner readers to read and enjoy. Man's enthusiasm for discovery and exploration shines through in the book and underpins the developments. The book looks at what the future holds and includes an very useful glossary. This chronological approach is a good way for children to put history into perspective and gives equal weight to developments across the eras. Beautifully presented and a really enticing book.

The Great Big Book of Life by Mary Hoffman

This is the sixth title in the excellent Great Big Book series and this one explores every stage of human life. From birth to starting nursery, being a teenager to becoming an adult, from work to relationships, homes and jobs, to ageing illness and death. Throughout the book, there are lots of opportunities to discuss the text and pictures, encouraging children to raise questions; controversial subjects are not evaded but gently introduced, giving openings for further discussion if wanted. There's plenty of diversity included too, again stimulating discussion. A universal but challenging topic is made easily accessible and handled with gentle humour which is especially to the fore in Ros Asquith's lively drawings. It's an attractive book which is great for children to dip into when they want answers to questions, or for adult and child to explore together.

Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces by Martin Jenkins

This simple book is perfect for the youngest children; it reads like a picture book but is actually a first introduction to forces, as exemplified by a bird building her nest. First, she pulls - and has to find how much she can pull. Then she must find out what is too heavy, and how many she can carry at once. Pushing and pulling, falling and weight are all part of building her nest, each with a simple explanation. Richard Jones' charming illustrations show both the forces in action and the way the bird cleverly crafts her nest, all ready for... A well-told story that will stimulate discussion about forces in everyday life - and about nature.

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