What We Are Reading Right Now: The Actual Factual Version…

We are planning to bring you some weekend reads for kids over the next couple of weeks… last week was the picture book edition and next week is first chapter books… This week we are looking at some of our latest faves in the world of non-fiction books for children.


Se7en +1 of the Latest Non-Fiction Books for Kids.

A Walk in New York by Salvatore Rubbino: If you haven’t discovered this series then settle down and enjoy the ride… these are beautiful beautiful books in the spirit of Sasek’s lovely traveling classics. We reviewed A Walk in Paris here. This is the story of a boy on a visit to New York with his dad, the illustrations are magical and the main story takes you on a tour of the major sights… and then scattered on all the pages are little factoids… of the very intriguing kinds. the pages are busy and beautiful, there is tons to look at. They start their tour at Grand Central Station, they visit the Empire State Building with a lovely tall fold up page… They stop for world famous hot dogs on the sidewalk, they take a walk down Broadway and rest in Union Square Park, they stop for a snack in Greenwich Village before catching a taxi back to the station. Kind of a perfect father and son day out. It’s lovely, you will feel like you have been on your best day out too… look out for these books, look out for this author.

I Don’t Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano: This book is amazing… real scientific discovery for little people. It is picture book about a little girl whose family keeps pet snakes… and she just can’t stand them. On every double page spread there is the story on the one page and a collection of facts on the other… so she doesn’t like snakes because they slither on the one page, and on the opposite page her mum explains the different ways a snake can move: concertina slithering, serpentine slithering, and caterpillar crawling, sidewinding, twining, flying, swimming, climbing. She finds their staring creepy, they don’t have eyelids and can’t blink. Anyway the more she learns about snakes the more she likes them… there is a page where a “strangler snake” engulfs a kangaroo, and your younger more sensitive viewers might take umbrage… but otherwise this book is totally cool and everything you ever wanted, and even things you didn’t know you wanted, to know about snakes.

What’s Eating You by Nicola Davies and Neal Layton: The book we all loved to hate… oh my goodness there are so many things that are living on you, or could potentially be living inside of you… The illustrations are perfect… and funny, for instance the inside page is a clearly a head of hair, full of little white blobs… and the last page is the same head of hair… the nits and their lice. Yup, give your head a scratch!!! There are ectoparasites and endoparasites… none of them lovely!!! Moles have the biggest fleas at almost 8mm long and I cannot even begin to tell you about the worms. This book is fascinating, if you ever wanted to know a few things about, how ticks travel about, say… or the deadliest creature on the planet… the plasmodia. Some animals have figured out how to get rid of their parasites, for instance chimpanzees eat a spiky leafed plants that remove their parasitic worms… Anyway this book had as cringing our way through it, yes we read it at the lunch table… a page a day for a week or three… we loved it, we loathed it and highly recommend it!!!

Poo by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton: I know the same name keeps coming up, Nicola Davies is my science writing hero. We absolutely love her books and can’t get enough of them, not to mention my kids have no idea they are reading about science and just assume they are more books in the story book pile. Poo is part of the Animal Science Series and we have reviewed her book called Survivor before… This book is basically everything you ever wanted to know about poo and then a whole lot more… there is a tour of poo, and every possible kind you can imagine (and a whole lot more). Incredible and amazing facts abound… Did you know, for instance, that insects don’t wee… and their waste is called frass? In this book you will find out who or what needs poo, not to mention there is a whole section on Poo Detectives – yup, there are scientific folks that study poo for a living. The last page has poo facts… and seriously there are things here you just wouldn’t believe. Let me give you one: The blue whale have poos 25cm wide and several, yes you read that correctly, several meters long. We love this book it is classic science that definitely appeals to children. And we discovered in the list of references one of our favourite books: The Scatalog by Struik Nature.

Archies War, by Marcia Williams: This is a scrap book of Archie Albright. He was ten years old at the start of World War 1. This book is written, just like the scrapbooks I used to make with my granny, it feels exactly like it too… an oversized book with that blue paper and Archie has filled with things from his life and times, as experienced by a ten year old during World War 1. It is packed with little artefacts that have been stuck in… letters, postcards and photographs, there are ticket stubs… and hundreds of snippets to read and illustrations of note. This is a beautiful book and you will spend hours pouring over it… heaps of “Top Secret” and “Keep Out” flaps to peep under… you will meet his family, you see inside his home, you will learn about evacuation and the rations they had to eat, you will learn about school and real life in London, all through the eyes of a lively ten year old boy. This book is a dream, there is tons of information packed between pages, and yet it feels like an easy book to read… Archie, the author, is ten after all. If I was going to pick just one book to cover World War 1 history for my kids… this would be it. Except I would never use it for school at all, just leave it lying around and it will be read from cover to cover.

Get Coding by Young Wired State: All the world is talking about teaching their kids coding, but was does that mean really? When it comes to technology our kids are streaks ahead of us… how fabulous to find a book that they can dive into and learn a couple of neat tricks along the way, al on their own. I would say that my middle schoolers would be able to cope with this book well enough and I am planning to let them at it and dive in when we get back to school again. The book has a really nice introduction, chatty and full of fun facts… followed by six chapters, which are actually six missions. Each mission is a project to help your children learn how to create their own website, app and such like. They will need to have a few computer skills to get going… and a passion to learn. I have to say, I found a few useful tips while I was reading this book… which is amazing, since I am the least techie person I know… but the writing is clear, easy to understand. The background story and missions, with Professor Bairstone and Dr Day, who are protecting the Monk Diamond, are interesting enough to keep your young coder engaged. This is a great book for the person, middle schooler to adult, who is eager to learn how to create their own useful code fast. You can discover more about the book and the authors over here.

Sir Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Greeks and Romans: To the mother person in this house, who reads tons of books for kids, this has reluctant reader written all over it… little bites of information, tons of graphics and info-graphics, sharing as much information in the easiest possible way, for the reader to absorb it. This is actually two books in one and everyone in our house older than ten inhaled it. My avid readers literally leapt and bounded through it and the slower readers were quite comfortable plodding along. It was easy for them to glean lots of information and I had not trouble discerning who was reading it either, because at the time of reading they all sidled up to me with piles of “Did you know?s” which is always a sign of a good fact book. The higher the ranking of trivia spouted during and after reading the better the books are. These books (in one book) are fun and fairly easy reading. I would say just higher than an easy reader level and perfect for kids with an interest in Ancient history… There are maps, timelines, images of ancient art… really what more could you want for a good afternoon read. This book we are so keeping on the coffee table a while longer as folk are still busy dipping into it. We will definitely be looking out for more in this series… good fun, feels like a good fat book, but the tons of illustrations and diagrams makes it a really easy read.

Olympic Sport: The Whole Muscle Flexing Story by Glenn Murphy: We have reviewed more than a few of Glenn Murphy’s books before… my middle schoolers love them. Quirky, fun science… in an easy top present format and endorsed by the Science Museum… everything to love, really. In this book the author examines a number of features of Olympic Athletes, perfect for the year of the Olympics… According to this book “most healthy people should be able to reach Olympic levels of speed and strength with the right kind of training.” I would question that point myself… considering how long it takes me to get up any hill! In this book you can learn about the human body, about a number of sports and ways to try them out, tons of things to try out… how to create your own heptathlon, for instance; how to endure more and shoot better; balance better and basically perform better in almost every Olympic sport. Of course this book is written in the spirit of easy reading… lots of short blocks of reading, illustration rich and plenty of well presented little snippets of knowledge to encourage children to read a whole lot more and grow in confidence as they do.

Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

4 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now: The Actual Factual Version…”

  1. Now we want to try each and every one of these books… except What’s Eating You! Oh, I remember first learning about that in elementary school and I haven’t been the same since although I suppose the critters are there whether we think about them or not. Thanks for sharing, gang!

  2. Hahaha Christi, I have to say the what’s eating you was absolutely fascinating… not your average science reader!!! There was tons to learn and everyone was extra clean for about three days afterwards!!! Have a fabulous day!!!

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