To celebrate National Non Fiction month this November BookTrust, the UK’s largest children's reading charity, has selected 12 brilliant non fiction books from its new Great Books Guide to help parents and carers get their children reading.

These engaging non fiction books approach subjects like nature, science and history in a variety of interesting ways and are suitable for children aged 4-11. Non fiction books are an excellent tool to help children understand the world around them and can often help reluctant readers turn pages.

We spoke to Dara O Briain, author of Beyond The Sky, about why he thinks non fiction is so important: “The thing about non fiction is that it’s about specialising and kids finding their passions. Start general, and then begin to find the things that children are really captivated by. Then you can burrow down and dive a little deeper. 

“I think there’s a bit of a fear around reading non fiction with kids, maybe in case they find it less interesting than fiction. We maybe have a tendency to think of non fiction as being linked to a school subject rather than an interesting thing in itself. We’ve got in our heads, bedtime stories not bedtime reading and I think we take that too literally at times. So my advice is fill their heads with facts, fill their heads with rockets, fill their heads with dinosaurs and all sorts of stuff that’s real and honest - and give them great dreams about science!”    

BookTrust Writer in Residence and non fiction author Nicola Davies said: “Reading non fiction is your key to the world and everything that’s in it. It can be the start of all sorts of explorations in time and space and send you off on adventures to find your way to see the world. And writing non fiction is a key too, a key you can offer people, so they can see how the world looks to you!”

BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2018 has 100 book recommendations for children aged 0-12 and was delivered to 22,000 schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland during October. This year the guide is beautifully illustrated by Mini Grey and features books from a host of wonderful authors and illustrators including current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, Taran Matharu, Judith Kerr and Chris Riddell. There are books in there about animals, space, mysteries and icons. 

Diana Gerald, BookTrust CEO said: “Non fiction books can help to teach your children about the world around them whilst also being fun, entertaining and beautiful to look at. Non fiction books can be a fantastic way to tempt a reluctant reader into sitting down with a book. We hope these non fiction recommendations and the other books in our Great Books Guide 2018 inspire you to help children find the right book for them.”

Non Fiction recommendations:

Creature Features by Natasha Durely (Big Picture Press) Age 4-5

This large format book about nature features tough card pages full of brightly illustrated animals, organised by their special features. Excellent for young readers building their vocabulary and learning about the natural world.

The Variety of Life by Nicola Davies, Illustrated by Lorna Scobie (Hodder Children’s Books) Age 6-7

Jam-packed with fun facts and figures, and stunning illustrations, this book not only encourages children to treasure the world’s biodiversity, but also indicates which species are threated by extinction. 

The Zoological Times: The Animal Kingdom’s Wildest Newspaper by Stella Gurney and illustrated by Matthew Hodson (Lincoln Children’s Books) Age 6-7

This funny newspaper-style non-fiction book features tons of facts, puzzles, jokes and activities about all manner of animals, from giraffes to lions. 

Dogs in Space: The Amazing True Story of Belka and Strelka by Vix Southgate, Illustrated by Iris Deppe (Wren and Rock) Age 6-7

This informative and appealing picture book details the true story of two space dogs journey through training to orbiting the earth and returning to safety.  

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala (Andersen Press) Age 6-7

Atmospheric illustrations accompany informative text in this inspiration picture book biography of a pioneering female scientist. 

Sports are Fantastic Fun! By Ole Konnecke (Gecko Press) Age 6-7

Full of brilliant detail about a vast range of sports this humorously illustrated picture book gives children a good introduction to the rules ad ethos of all manner of sports. 

Corpse Talk: Ground- Breaking Women by Adam and Lisa Murphy ( David Fickling Books) Age 8-9

In this comic book, chat show host Adam Murphy interviews 18 historical women, including Joan of Arc, Pocahontas and Anne Frank, all freshly dug up from the grave. 

Real-Life Mysteries: Can You Explain the Unexplained? By Susan Martineau and illustrated by Vicky Barker (Small publishing) Age 8-9

This fascinating collection of case files covers everything from crop circles to monsters, with a view to examining and evaluating all the evidence.  

Splat the Fake Fact by Adam Frost, Illustrated by Gemma Correll ( Bloomsbury) Age 8-9

With a series of interactive activities, this book not only allows children to find out what is and isn’t true, but also gets them to doodle, lasso and deface the fake facts. 

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins 

This beautiful book celebrates a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve. 

Alastair Humphrey’s Great Adventures by Alastair Humphreys illustrated by Kevin Ward (Big Picture Press) Age 8-9

An inspiring introduction to 20 adventurers and explorers from the last 700 years. This book will encourage readers to think a little more boldly and go a little further themselves.  

Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe by Dara O Briain, illustrated by Dan Bramall (Scholastic) Aged 10-11 

Packed with fascinating facts covering fundamental scientific questions, O Briain’s genuine love for science shines through, and his chatty, accessible style is perfectly complemented by the witty illustrations. 

Download your copy of BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2018 here.