One of the recommendations that I have been asked to make recently is for good encyclopaedias. I'm assuming that lots of parents ...

Encyclopaedias & Anthologies

Saturday, April 25, 2020 BookBairn 2 Comments

One of the recommendations that I have been asked to make recently is for good encyclopaedias. I'm assuming that lots of parents are looking for them in response to the lockdown and people needing to home school and home educate their children and encyclopaedias are a great way to get lots of information on multiple topics all in one place. I know as a child I loved the two encyclopaedias that we had and I can vividly remember their covers as well as revisiting the same favourite pages over and over. We don't have a huge number of encyclopaedias as yet because the bairns are only 5 and (almost - this week!) 3 so there aren't many that are age appropriate. However, BookBairn has recently become fascinated by the anthologies we have, which are both big hefty books like encyclopaedias but are all on one theme - nature or animals in these cases. She loves flicking through them and identifying the images as well as letting us read aloud some of the facts for her to absorb. I have been keeping some for BookBairn to 'grow into' in my book archive (storage boxes in our shed!) as couldn't justify the shelf space until she got a little older so think I dug those out and collated a list as well as restocked our bookshelves.

As I've mentioned my kids are only little so I don't have many encyclopaedias for older children, however I have done as extensive research as is possible without having access to a bookshop browse or library collection and created a list on my amazon shop which is tagged at the bottom of this post.

I've also done something I rarely do and pop an age recommendation on the end of each review but do remember that many books aimed at older readers are accessible to younger children in different ways - either with parents reading aloud or through exploring the illustrations which can be just as (and more) valuable as reading the text.

Slow Down by Rachel Williams & Freya Hartas 

All around us nature is working wonders. Every day magical transformations are happening right in front of you and now is your chance to learn to stop and see them. They are feasts of wonder, fantasies brought to life, miracles in the making. This book will remind and encourage little ones, and grown ups, to continue to see the little things. With 50 different nature stories, slowed down so that you can appreciate their miraculous nature: the way a sunflower tracks the sun across the sky, or how an ocean wave forms , crests and breaks, or the snail leaving it’s trail, a ladybird takes to the air. All things that we often allow to go unnoticed. This book is beautiful illustrated and with each story written across two pages it’s one to enjoy dipping into the pages of and then putting down again to go outside and see what you find when you take the time to slow down. (5-8 years)

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals by Ben Hoare

I think animals are one of the most fascinating things to learn about and I know this is exactly the sort of book I would have loved as a kid! With over 100 species, each page features fun animal facts and detailed close-up photographs that children will pore over. Featuring favourites, such as dolphins, tigers and butterflies, as well as more unusual animals like the quokka, there's something for everyone. BookBairn loves finding her favourite animals as well as looking at all the animals throughout. This is probably the book that she picks up most often! Once she's older she will love reading about the lives of these creatures too. A perfect book for children who can't get enough of animals, wildlife and nature! (7-9 years)

Wonders of Nature by Ben Hoare

From the same creators who develop An Anthology of Intriguing Animals (above), we also love this book which is about the wider wonders of nature. It includes a section on animals at the end of the book but there are also sections on plant life and minerals as well as smaller microorganisms. BookBairn finds the photographs of those particularly interesting and as a result has become  fascinated by ammonite fossils. It doesn't take much to spark the fascination of children so this sort of book is just a perfect launching pad into learning! And the photographs are truly spectacular. (7-9 years)

Encyclopedia of Animals by Julie Howard & Jarom Vogel

When I first realised this book had been released but we had missed it I was gobsmacked and so annoyed ta myself because we really love the Dictionary of Dinosaurs from the same team. I actually gave away our copy as a gift but am now regretting that and it's back on the wishlist. But back to this book. This is a more stylish and graphic style making the illustrations appealing for younger ones but also cool enough for the older readers. BookBairn has also taken to this book and loves flicking through its pages. I love the way that it is divided up into sections - mammals, fish, reptiles etc and has colour-coded tabs on the edge of each page meaning you can see the different sections on the sprayed edges of the book making it easy to locate your favourite creatures. Packed full of facts this one will have a broad appeal to animal lovers and is suitable for a wide age range due to the clever design making it a great encyclopaedia to invest in. (7-11 years)

Clever Encyclopedia: First Animals

This is the perfect first encyclopaedia for very little readers. Firstly it's focussed on animals which is one of the things that they love the most! And this book is filled with curious creatures. Divided by different 'habitats' (house and backyard, out and about, in the wild, and sea life), this book is an incredibly entertaining first encyclopaedia packed with games as well as over 500 things to learn. I love the blend of using photographs alongside illustrated graphics and the use of text boxes and labelled diagrams makes it just like a grown-up encyclopaedia but much more accessible. Curious little minds will love exploring this one and discovering lots of facts about the creatures they love best! A perfect first encyclopaedia! (2-5 years)

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things

Very Important Things is a more traditional encyclopaedia with facts on a much wider variety of subjects meaning that children can expand their general knowledge. Covering things such as the tallest buildings, how time works as well as historical areas of interest like the Egyptians and learning more about how our body works as well as animals and their habitats this book has information for everyone. I also love that it's laid out like a traditional encyclopaedia and has a mixture of illustrations and photographs as well as labelled diagrams, charts and lists. It's the perfect started encyclopaedia. (Also available: Very Important Animals, Very Important Dinosaurs and My Very Important World but these are more subject specific.) (5-9 years)

Hello World: Animals by Nicola Edwards

"An Amazing Atlas of Wildlife", Hello World Animals will have little readers discovering some of the most incredible creatures on Earth! BookBairn enjoys lifting the flaps scattered across each page and have me read about the animals they feature, so it's great for younger readers as well as for readers who might absorb more of the facts. Discover the animals of each continent through the beautifully crafted pages, bitesize facts and stunning illustrations. With over 180 animals to learn about this one will keep kids busy, and fascinated, for hours! (Hello World is also available which is a global exploration of all the different ways to say "Hello" in the many languages of the world.) (6-9 years)

The Big Book of ... [Multiple Themes] by Yuval Zommer

We have only just started collecting this fantastic series which places incredible illustration at the heart of learning. With wonderful facts about a variety of different subjects, the book we have is focussed on birds and shares a flock of different feathered friends from flamingos to albatrosses and shares quirky facts about each. It also looks at conservation and encourages children to become bird spotters out in the wild as well as creating a bird-friendly garden. But for me this one is mostly about the incredible artwork which is second-to-known and will capture children's imaginations. (Also available: The Big Book of BugsThe Big Book of BeastsThe Big Book of Blue and coming soon The Big Book of Blooms.) (4-8 years)

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland & Philip Giordano

An Anthology on a slightly different, yet still nature-based theme, this, fantastically titled book, celebrates the incredible world of plants! This book is just so comprehensive on the world of plants covering everything from the parts of the plant through to conservation. I love that it celebrates the rays of the sun powering plants to create everything from rubber to honey and opens up worlds for children into plants that are used in their daily life such as mint in their toothpaste or floral names of their friends (Primrose, Ivy, etc). It also has DIY experiments so young readers can bring to life the facts that the book shares. There's no better learning than learning by doing! The vibrant graphic illustrations make this book an absolute beauty to have on the shelf and really it's a magic door into the world of plants. Utterly enchanting and I know we will have lots of fun with it! (7-11 years)

I hope you found this useful and have found a book or two that might grab your little one or bigger one's interest and help with your home education journey. Encyclopaedias can be expensive but they are a worthwhile investment as you will get years and years of use out of them. If you're looking for one of these or one of my other suggestions, check out my Amazon shop and click on the section for Encyclopaedias and Anthologies.

You can also find many other suggestions of great non-fiction books in my list Fantastic Non-Fiction here on the blog.

Happy learning!
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: We were sent some of these books free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


  1. What a collection of fabulous books! I can see BookBairn loving some of these and, ok, I’m off to find out what a quokka is. Never heard of it. What I need is a good encyclopedia.

    1. Haha! I think you probably still have my old ones - I'd be surprised if I parted with them!