Factastic Non-Fiction for Tots

Stepping stones for learning. There has been a fantastic influx of new non-fiction books aimed at preschoolers and toddlers. Somethin...

BookBairn: Factastic Non-Fiction for Tots
Stepping stones for learning.

There has been a fantastic influx of new non-fiction books aimed at preschoolers and toddlers. Something that goes beyond word-primers. Goes beyond simple photographs and words beside. So I asked on our social media if you were interested in a blog post collating them all and you said yes! So here are some of our favourites, though not all of them because that would be one long blog post. If you would like to see some others that we enjoy I'm tagging them all under the label 'fantastic non-fiction'. Without further ado here are our newest fact-tastic non-fiction for tots!

10 Reasons to Love A ... series by Catherine Barr and Hanako Clulow

These two books are part of a brand new series published in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, giving children 10 reasons why each animal is amazing and five ways they can show they love it! The are perfect for any little animal enthusiast! Each page is beautifully illustrated making the animals absolutely charming. I love that these are illustrated rather than photographs which are more traditional for non-fiction as it really captures BookBairn's fascination far more than photographs do at the moment. The facts are written in toddler-friendly language, without being patronising, and including some words which will extend their vocabulary (something that I am looking to do with BookBairn as she is a real wee linguist). The facts are also really interesting, for example, did you know that turtles are as ancient as the dinosaurs?  Or that they live for up to 150 years? Or that elephant heards are headed by their grandmothers? Or that they walk on their tiptoes? And scattered throughout the book are little rosettes of information on ways to protect these brilliant beasts. For example, buy paper made from recycled elephant poo; or don't leave litter on the beach that turtles might gobble by mistake. In short these books are informative, beautiful and brilliant!

Life on Earth series by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano

Can we first just talk about how cute these illustrations are? From the two children who explore and investigate throughout the book to the style of boxes of information arranged in a geometric grid that is a visual delight. And if you want to know more and more facts about the perennially popular topics of dinosaurs and jungle (or human body and farm which are also part of the series) these books answer over 100 questions about the subjects. But what makes these books so wonderful? They are lift-the-flap. Over 70 flaps. Want to know the answer to the questions you have to lift the flap. Such a fun and interactive way to engage little ones in non-fiction. I would say the information and style of these books are still a little complex for BookBairn, though she does like to lift the flaps anyway. Probably better for 4+ but they are absolutely superb! 

Touch and Explore series by Ninie (Dinosaurs) and Nathalie Choux (The Ocean)

When I was teaching one of the things that always amazed by was how children learned so much more when they could engage their senses. And these books are great for that! Children can explore the facts in these books whilst feeling the smooth skin of the manta ray or the leathery shell of the turtle or the feather-y wings of a flying dinosaur (microraptor). Also the facts in these are laid out in a more traditional style with text boxes of information (some are under flaps though) and labels around the illustrations. I love these and so does BookBairn! She requests them over and over again and no wonder: they are a treat for the senses! And a great way to learn!

Early Learning at the British Museum by Nosy Crow books

Firstly, I have gathered these books together as they are all part of collaboration between Nosy Crow and the British Museum but they are really two separate styles of non-fiction. 'Mummy', illustrated by Lerryn Korda is a lift-the-flap board book where a little Egyptian girl can't find her mummy and she needs the help of your little reader. You work your way through a whole host of ancient Egyptian animals and artefacts until you come across her mummy (after finding a real Egyptian mummy first of course!). This is an ingenious piece of narrative non-fiction that will appeal to little readers who can appreciate the little girls search for her mummy. I know that BookBairn says "mummy always comes back" at the end, which is something I said to her in the run up and after her brother was born as I knew she would wonder where I had gone. It is a great way to introduce this fascinating world to little ones and I hope there will be more books like this for other ancient worlds.

ABC and 123 'Early Learning in the Museum' are two in a new series (with Colours and Opposites out later this year) that feature some of the fascinating objects from the British Museum collection. These are a great way for inquisitive little readers to learn about familiar concepts of numbers and letters but through fascinating objects that represent a multitude of cultures from around the world and objects that span a timescale from thousand-year old relics to 20th century toys and Egyptian jewellery to African instruments. And these books are primarily photographs (or photographs of artwork) making them more like traditional non-fiction which makes a good balance for your library.

The world at her feet!
One of the clever parts about this book is that grown-ups can scan the QR codes in each book to find out more about the featured objects and the final page feature an index (of photographs) of the objects and you can learn more. I would love to take BookBairn to spot these objects in the museum once I can brave taking her on a flight or train to London.

I hope you feel a little more informed about non-fiction for your little readers and have spotted a few books you would like to add to your library.

Happy learning through reading!
Mummy and BookBairn xx

Girls Who Dream They Can Fly

Do you ever experience when things all seem to pull together? BookBairn's latest interest seems to be flying at us from left, righ...

BookBairn - Books About Girls Who Dream They Can Fly

Do you ever experience when things all seem to pull together? BookBairn's latest interest seems to be flying at us from left, right and centre. It started when she became fascinated by hearing and spotting aeroplanes in the sky - gliders and military planes (we live relatively close to a former airforce base and they still practise lots of maneuvers) as well as commercial planes at the airport when we drive to her granparents' house. Then I picked up an engineering kit where she can remove the screws from a toy plane with a little electric drill. And in the last few weeks alone she's insisted I make paper aeroplanes, run around the garden with her arms out to the side making jet engine noises and we had our first pyjama movie morning watching Disney's Planes.

And we got some book post that compliments all these interests! So I thought I'd share some great books about little girls (which seems to be a theme of books at the moment) that can fly!

Little People Big Dreams: Amelia Earhart by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Mariadiamantes

Amelia Earhart is probably the most famous female pilot in history setting world records for her flying skills and then mysteriously disappearing during her last flight in an attempt to fly around the world. But it all started when she was young when, like BookBairn, she stretched her wings and imagined she could fly. This biography is a great story for younger readers, introducing them to a mighty girl we can all admire. And the illustrations are adorable! I reviewed this one some time ago but you can find the link here.

Emma Jane's Aeroplane by Katie Haworth and Daniel Rieley

This is a brilliant story for little adventure-lovers! Emma Jane zooms off in her aeroplane visiting cities around the world - London, Paris, New York, Beijing and Sydney - making new friends along the way. Her new friends immediately hop aboard which is a good thing too as Emma Jane's aeroplane gets into trouble along the way and they help her get flying again! Told in a rhyming narrative this is such a great read aloud story, though I would say it's slightly on the long-side for us as we do several stories at bedtime, although BookBairn doesn't mind - it's just us parents keen to get the bairns to bed! The illustrations are so clever too with each character beautifully captured and coloured to stand out from the page. It makes me want to join Emma Jane's crew! I love this one! And Emma Jane make s brilliant, plucky protagonist that I hope BookBairn admires amongst her Mighty Girl role models.

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane by Caroline Baxter and Izabela Ciesinska

What a great caper this book is! Jane and her plane Rose fly all around the world having lots of fun, declaring "girl power forever" at the end of their little team song. But when Rose is taken poorly and the Queen requires flying to a party Pilot Jane must step up and fly Mitch the mean flying machine (the biggest plane that Jane has ever seen) the course does not run so smoothly as it does with Rose. Mitch takes a dislike to this mighty little female pilot declaring that she must be a scaredy cat because she is a girl pilot! What nonsense says Jane! But Mitch swoops and he soars making things rather uncomfortable for the passengers and making keeping control very difficult for Jane. But Mitch isn't so brave when he encounters a storm! Can Jane save the day and land the plane safely? Or course she can - she's got girl power! And thankfully she gets reunited with Rose after enjoying afternoon tea with the Queen as a reward for her flying skills. This is also written in narrative rhyme and rolls of the tongue as you read. I love the personification of the planes - it's a magic that can only occur in children's books and the illustrations really bring them to life. Though my favourite illustration has to be of the Queen snoring, mouth open, on the flight - it really made me laugh out loud. I find the part where Mitch makes fun of Jane a bit uncomfortable to read and I prefer my Mighty Girl books to be a bit more subtle in their approach but I suppose it's good for children to occasionally be confronted with outright sexism and see how to handle it too. Perhaps if BookBairn was older I might appreciate it a little more but for the moment I don't even want it to cross her mind that because she's a girl society has certain expectations of her. But Jane is certainly a girl she can admire and this is a great story.

Bessie, Queen of the Sky by Andrea Doshi and Jimena Duran with illustrations by Chiara Fabbri

This is the first book in a new series that take stories of real women and turns them into fairy tales to inspire girls to follow their dreams. This one is the story of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to hold a pilot's license in the world. But as I said this isn't a typical biography - it's been made magical! When Bessie is growing up, no one can imagine that she will do anything more than pick cotton from the cotton clouds. Bessie dreams of flying. She tells her sisters stories about flying. She has a best friend who is a bird that she sings to about flying. And as Bessie grows older her desire to fly just grows stronger. She works hard until she has enough money to go to pilot school but even then she is told girls are not welcome at pilot school. Well, all except one, in the City of Lights. She even has to learn a new language to go there but ever chasing her dream she conquers this other hurdle until she eventually gets to fly a plane with her bird friend racing alongside her! This really is a magical fairytale and it's hard to imagine that it is based on a real story! But it is and it's so beautiful. The illustrations are soft and add to the fairy tale magic of the story. This is a great read for little mighty girls who need inspiration to chase their dreams no matter what the hurdles. This publisher also follows a One for One Model, where for every book purchased, another will be donated to organisations that empower girls and fight illiteracy. You can read more about it on their website here.

AFC-book-mockup_4-1-17.jpgAnd a special mention also goes to Amelia the Flying Cat by Nikki Floreno which isn't available for purchase yet and is being launched using Kickstarter but we've had a sneak preview and it's adorable! Amelia is an irresistible little kitten who wants to fly like her bird parents and family but she can't because she's a cat! She even tries to fly a plane but cats just can't fly. Don't worry it has a happy ending but I don't want to give it away! This is an adorable story about picking yourself up when you fall, perseverance and the love and support of family and friends. And Amelia and her birdy friends are just too sweet. Keep an eye out for this one or look up the Kickstarter page here.

I really hope BookBairn will dream she can fly. Though maybe not literally if that's not her thing! I just hope she will chase her dreams and be whatever she want to be!

Little Girls Can Fly!
Mummy and BookBairn xx

BookBairn - Books About Girls Who Dream They Can Fly

Going to School

I can't believe that schools go back next week (in Scotland)! Normally I track the summer frantically prepping for a new class but thi...

BookBairn: Books About Going to School
I can't believe that schools go back next week (in Scotland)! Normally I track the summer frantically prepping for a new class but this is my second summer on career break so I haven't paid any attention to the dates. But my best friend's little boy starts primary school next week and I have gathered a little bundle of books for him as a 'your a big school boy now' gift. These are books we have been sent from publishers but BookBairn isn't really old enough to appreciate and I'd rather they went to a good home! But there is one that I just had to share on the blog because it is just brilliant! Perfect for introducing children to school through simple story telling and great illustrations.

Generally I don't find "my first.." sorts of books to be all that exciting. Useful, practical, but not exciting. Not true for "Going to School" by Rose Blake. This is really brilliant. It is an exploration of a day in the life of a little girl at school following her all day from her journey to school to when she gets picked up at the end of the day. And it highlights almost every important feature of the day! We also meet a whole cast of her classmates for vary in all shapes, sizes, colours and ambitions!

The day starts with everyone walking, scooting, cycling, busing, driving... to school and entering the classroom to hang up their coats and bags at the pegs. And this page is perfectly depicted (except the cloakroom is a lot tidier than I have ever seen one). Miss Balmer has written the timetable on the whiteboard and discusses the plan for the day with the children and then they are off on a journey of fun learning! The book shares some of the main subjects taught in school from geography, PE, science to maths and literacy but it also shows multiple activities on each page so you get a feel for various sort of science lessons that Miss Balmer has done with the children or a selection of activities that the children use the computer for. Similarly at play and lunch times the children are all doing different things so you can get a feel for the variety that happens in school.

And this is the charm of the book. Whilst it is told from the viewpoint of one character, there is so much going that you can discuss! So even if you don't ride your scooter to school you can spot a child getting there the way you do. Or doing an art activity that you enjoy. Or acting out one of the many jobs the children want to do when they are older. You can easily find yourself, or your child in this book. I would love to think that I was a little like Miss Balmer when I was teaching - she just seems awesome and it's no wonder her class adore her.

The illustrations are striking, colourful and so full you could easily spend hours looking at them. Have a look at the video below to get a feel for them.

And I just want to have a special mention to the text about reading time because it sings to my soul: "Your imagination can take you to lots of exciting places when you're reading!" Could this book be any more perfect?

I hope our big boy friend loves it as much as I do! And we hope he gets on well when he starts school next week. We cant' wait to hear all about his new adventure.

Good luck Brodie!
Love, Kim and Lottie and Harvey xx

*DISCLAIMER* We were sent this book for review by the publisher, all words and opinions are my own. And we are gifting this one rather than adding it to our own library.

KidLit Picks July Round Up - Little Kids Big Emotions

Did you know that reading with your kiddos supports the development of emotional intelligence? Well it does! By enhancing vocabulary, cr...

A great list of picture books from the @KidLitPicks team on the theme of Little Kids Big Emotions.
Did you know that reading with your kiddos supports the development of emotional intelligence? Well it does! By enhancing vocabulary, creating an openness to experience, and providing safe space for empathic imagination, books open our children to the world of emotions in pretty powerful ways. This month, the #kidlitpicks theme is Little Kids, Big Emotions and we are excited to share some great picture books that address your children's big and budding feelings! Some books will aim directly at helping kiddos understand and express themselves (a major tantrum-busting skill) by featuring an array of emotions, illustrations, and feeling words. Other books will feature stories that give children the opportunity to imagine themselves in interesting narratives about sadness, hope, joy, fear, angry, and all the rest.

This month’s @kidlitpicks theme was chosen and introduced by @afriendlyaffair, with a special message: As a clinical psychologist, I feel strongly about the importance of giving your kids a plethora of ways to express themselves. Hopefully your feed will be full this month of books that help us all along the way of building a good base of knowledge, play, and imaginative experiences so that our kids can understand the world around them and be resilient.

Places To Be, by Mac Barnett and Renata Liwska
"All the ups and downs in life, the zigzags and u-turns, can be difficult to navigate, but with a friend at our side in all those places to be, we’ll get through." -- Summer from @readingisourthing

Feminist Baby, by Loryn Brantz
“She's a force to be reckoned with!" -- Mel from @spiky_penelope

Niko Draws a Feeling, by Bob Raczka and Simone Shin

It is wonderful for opening discussions on feelings, friendship, diversity and, of course, abstract art..” -- Clarissa from @book.nerd.mommy

Tiny Tantrum, by Caroline Crowe and Ella Okstad
“We all know a little girl like her!” --  Kim from @bookbairn

Brave, by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
“This primer is a perfect introduction for kids and a great refresher for their grownups.” -- Miranda from @bookbloom

In My Heart, by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey
“The die cut hearts are one of the many appealing features of this book.” -- De from @books_and_babycinos

The Forever Garden, by Laurel Snyder and Samantha Cotterill
“A wonderful story about friendship and gardening! ” -- Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

Emily’s Blue Period, by Cathleen Daly
“For families going through separation or divorce, Emily’s Blue Period is an especially compassionate and helpful book…be sure to have some art supplies ready to make your own collage afterward.” -- Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

My Brother, by Dee Huxley
“Older children will appreciate this metaphorical story that is a tender exploration of loss and grief from a sibling’s perspective.” -- Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

A Book of Feelings, by Amanda McCardie
“What sets this book apart is that it not only focuses on different kinds of emotions but also how those emotions may affect them and how to identify and understand them in other people.” -- Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

I'm New Here, by Anne Sibley O'Brien
“I think this book is great for both welcoming children to classrooms and also providing American children with an understanding of what it feels like to be new and learn how to speak and write a new language..” -- Charnaie from @hereweeread

The Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus, by Edward Hemingway
"It was a great reminder for me that there are times to be firm and strict but there are just as many times to show empathy. Both are important." -- Wendy from @homegrownreader

Everyone, by Christopher Silas Neal “A beautiful and hopeful look at understanding emotion.” -- Heather from @kidlitbookbits

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings, by Anna Llenas
"The Color Monster is the perfect emotional primer for young kids. It explores the range of emotions children experience -- all through amazing pop-up pages bursting with color!" -- Anna from @kidlitcrafts

Today I Feel, by Madalena Moniz
Today I Feel fits in perfectly with the theme. It's an Alphabet book of feelings.” -- Mel from @kids.books.we.love

Annie's Chair, by Deborah Miland
“In a deceptively simple way, it taps into some of the BIG preschooler emotions around sharing and space..” -- Shannon from @ohcreativeday

Grumpy Pants, by Claire Messer
“A great door to talk to kids about these grumpy feelings and learning how to deal with them.” -- Michelle from @the.book.report

Our theme for August is Traditional Stories and Fairy Tales, hosted and introduced by Wendy @homegrownreader

Whether they are called fairy tales, legends, tall tales, fables, folklore, origin stories, or mythology, each of these stories carries pieces of history and cultural connections that draw lines of similarities between those separated by distance and time. They give us insight into the morals, principals, and beliefs of those who came before us, creating history lessons through drama and cultural lessons with plot. These stories provide a testament not only to who we are but how we've grown and what we've achieved throughout the years. They are ways to teach our children patience, perseverance, hope, love, kindness, bravery, and the importance of wit.

So, no matter if your tales are of a Grimm version, told through song, or related by a coyote or a spider, we look forward to hearing them. They are a celebration of heritage and history from around the world, showcasing that which we hold important and dear. Our world is a fast moving place, in which we constantly see shifting changes, especially in literature. But these tales, these have withstood the test of time.

Celebrate with @kidlitpicks, by gathering your most beloved books on the theme of 'traditional tales and fairytales' and tagging them  #kidlitpicks_fairytales throughout August. 

Happy reading!
Mummy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xxx

Let's Care for Baby

BookBairn has become such a helpful big sister! She is particularly happy to help out now that The Wee Page Turner has a bedtime and gets ...

BookBairn has become such a helpful big sister! She is particularly happy to help out now that The Wee Page Turner has a bedtime and gets his bath just before we all cuddle up for story time and bedtime. She just loves helping with his bath - though I'm not entirely convinced that he's as enamored with being drenched!

We recently received a copy of 'Let's Care for Baby' by Geraldine Krasinski and Amy Blay and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Not a story book, nor a non-fiction text I'd describe this one as a lifestyle or a real-life book. It simply (though, not simply, I'll explain...) shows children how to look after a baby. Over the four pages, children can see different things that babies need like nappy/diaper changes, making up a bottle, feeding them and getting them dressed or ready for bed. Expect, not so simple I said. This book has fifteen movable parts so that little ones can actually practise doing these things. The series is called 'play learn do' and it couldn't be a better description: children learn best when they interact and can have hands-on learning.

Hands-on this book is! You can put the baby's socks on, and cut it's nails, brush its hair and wash it's face, check it's temperature and change it's nappy, get it dressed, clean, fill and feed the baby it's bottle, find it's favourite toy, put it in it's sleep-bag and give it it's dummy. The baby is gender-neutral making it perfect for new siblings and siblings-to-be, especially where parents' haven't found out the gender. The illustrations are also scattered with a few keys words and phrases or instructions but it's more of a book to play with and discover than to read.

I love the colour palette of the book with predominantly complimentary colours of turquoise and orange. The baby is very sweet but not overly detaillled which places the focus on all the objects and things that you can do with the baby rather than what any particular object looks like. I should also mention that it is made of super-thick board making it very sturdy for all that play and rough use that toddlers are known for. We haven't had it very long so I can't say that it is indestructible but it's definitely been thought-out for rough handlers!

This is a perfect books for encouraging hands-on learning and helping children develop a sense of responsibility for younger siblings. BookBairn has had so much fun with this one. She loves that it has a handle and can easily take it from room to room. She loves playing with the baby and putting it's dummy in - something that she is now getting good at in real life too. But her favourite part is definitely giving the baby it's bottle.

If you check out our Instagram link below you will see some of the moving parts in action!

This is a great book for new big brothers or sisters! And we would highly recommend it. I wish we had had this before The Wee Page Turner was born. But we have it now, and she can practise her big sister skills and learn on the job! If you're expecting a new baby soon you might want to check out some of our other recommendations by clicking here.

Happy book-play learn do!
Mummy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xxx

*DISCLAIMER* I was given our book for free for review purposes, however, all words and opinions are my own.

First Explorers

BookBairn really loves dinosaurs! She's fascinated by their different sizes, shapes and colours. And one of our local bookshops has po...

BookBairn really loves dinosaurs! She's fascinated by their different sizes, shapes and colours. And one of our local bookshops has pocket money toys and she always chooses a new wind-up dinosaur. On a recent day of torrential rain I was crazy enough to brave the weather and go to the shops to get BookBairn new shoes and to spend my book token on something for me. But you won't be surprised that I also picked up something for BookBairn!

I figured it was raining so 1000 stickers wouldn't go wrong! So we chose a dinosaur sticker book to go with the latest in the collection of dinosaurs and then I saw a book I just couldn't resist. We love Campbell books for toddlers - they are bright and brilliant - and I love their 'First Stories' series. And when I saw this book and realised that they have a new series called 'First Explorers' I had to pick it up!

First Explorers: Dinosaurs by Campbell Books with illustrations by Chorkung is a truly fascinating first information book. Each page features several dinosaurs with a short statement about the dinosaurs that are starring on that particular page. It also has bullet points asking questions and adding additional facts in a way similar to non-fiction books aimed at older children do. But one of my favourite parts is that each page has a little 'Can You See?' list with the names of the dinosaurs (meaning I have to use my phonics knowledge and sounding out skills to pronounce!) and a little illustration. It turns the page into a little game.

The illustrations in this series are absolutely brilliant! So colourful! And whilst there are several dinosaurs chosen to feature on each page the illustrations reveal so so much more! The dinosaurs manage to be cute without being cutesy and the sharp teeth and claws are fierce looking without being threatening. The illustrator has found a really good balance. I would certainly look for more work by this illustrator now that I have found the name hidden on the back.

But the part that really gets little ones engaged is the interactive paper mechanisms that they have to push, pull, slide and turn to reveal baby dinosaurs inside their eggs, or long-necked dinosaurs reaching above the treetops, or spinning fish into a dinosaurs open jaws, or (the best part) making T-rex's teeth chop by opening and closing them! BookBairn can't get enough of these mechanisms! She loved them in the First Stories books too. And similarly they are super sturdy and pretty indestructible (depending on how rough your children are but these are pretty strong in comparision to other books of a similar style). My only criticism of these books is that they are only four pages long and I'd love more! But at £4.99 they are such a bargain!*

You can see how much fun BookBairn has with this one in the videos below.

There is a whole series of books like this - Night Animals, Sea Creatures, In the Jungle, My Body, Brilliant Bugs and Astronauts - and I can see us collecting a few more! I particularly like the sound of Brilliant Bugs and would like My Body as we don't have many books on this topic yet. (Let us know of any good ones that are age-appropriate). I mentioned on my social media accounts recently that there are a lot of good new non-fiction books out for toddlers and preschoolers at the moment and I have promised a blog post sharing these soon. But in the meantime I have collated all the ones I have reviewed in the past under the label 'Fantastic Non-Fiction' and you can find them all by clicking here.

Happy fact-finding little explorers,
Mummy and BookBairn xx

*DISCLAIMER: I shelled out the £4.99 myself!