I adore illustrated non-fiction and think that it makes a wonderful gift for adults and children alike. I love learning new things and alway...

Factastic Non-Fiction Christmas Gift Guide

Friday, December 11, 2020 BookBairn 1 Comments

I adore illustrated non-fiction and think that it makes a wonderful gift for adults and children alike. I love learning new things and always turn to children's illustrated fiction when I am looking for a place to start as it gives you all the information you need in a beautiful format and without being overwhelming. It's also a great way to support your children in their passions - be in nature, vehicles, space, cookery, ballet, the list goes on. There's a non-fiction book for topic and therefore for everyone!

Before I share, I just want to say that there are many many great books out there but these are some of my favourites that I have discovered this year. It would be impossible to compile a fully comprehensive list so this is more of a highlights guide. If you want to see our gift guides from last year, or any of our other gift guides from this year you can find them all linked here. I've tried to include a variety of books so that there is something for everyone.

Be a Super Awesome Artist by Henry Carroll & Rose Blake

This is by one of my favourite illustrators, Rose Blake, along with writer Henry Carroll (who write Be a Super Awesome Photographerwho better to help guide you through twenty fantastic art projects to channel your young readers’ artistic genius?! Using real examples of art for inspiration, you’ll be helping to create the newest generation of Pollocks, Duchamps and Kahlos! Including spreads on a variety of art materials and nifty tips and techniques, this is great starter guide to becoming an artist and would make a lovely gift with some accompanying art materials. I love the way this book encourages creativity and shows children that being an artist is accessible to all and we can all create our very own masterpieces!

Trucks! (and other things with wheels) by Maria Brzozowska

Everybody knows a kid who likes trucks and vehicles right? Filled with hundreds of different trucks and other vehicles from around the world, this book will entrance any avid transport fan! With a mix of spreads featuring different themes of wheeled vehicles including emergency vehicles (always a favourite), construction vehicles (again a favourite), cars, trains, motorbikes and more. There are some pages which feature dozens of vehicles in one spread and others which focus on particular scenes - petrol station, airport, as well as 'inside' some vehicles like fire engines and ice cream vans. So there's a lot of variety! And one of the things that I love best about this? It features an electric car! Our car is electric but so far we only have one other book that shows one, and this book goes further by showing it plugged in and charging! Hurrah! Perfect for little vehicle lovers!

Teatime Around the World by Denyse Waissbluth & Chelsea O'Byrne

Cup of tea anyone? In the UK, we are quite well known for enjoying the virtues of a good cuppa. But there are traditions surround 'tea' from all around the world and this lovely poetic picture book explores that. Go on an adventure across the world to discover new cultures  and make friends over cups of tea. Told through a poem but with accompanying facts this is a very readable non-fiction that can be enjoyed in a story-format making it a lovely book to enjoy over a cup of tea. 

Welcome to Ballet School by Ashley Bouder & Julia Bereciartu

Giving books which support children's passions is what illustrated non-fiction is really all about and ballerina BookBairn has really enjoyed visiting the ballet class through the pages of this book written by real life ballerina Ashley Bouder. Written in a narrative which makes little readers feel like they are stepping inside the pages into the ballet class, but also providing basic children’s ballet steps, this lovely book will really help her to keep on her toes (pointes! - not really she’s only five after all!) with her skills. With great visual aids, you can learn five basic lessons through the pages before exploring the theatre from the costume rooms to performing sleeping beauty on the stage. This is a book to be read in your tutu with your ballet shoes on! And - endpaper love!!!

How Many Spots has a Cheetah Got? by Steve Martin & Amber Davenport

Mostly this a fantastic book to flick through, pick a statistic and fascinate the people around you with it. But I’m such a number factoid geek, I may have consumed it all in one sitting! My favourite facts include:
500,00kg - the average weight of a cloud
4,500km - the distance monarch butterflies migrate
20,000 - the number of species of bee live on Earth
200 - the number of jobs Barbie has done
And many many more! It’s beautifully illustrated and the bright illustrations will draw readers in - prompting them to ask “what does this say?” Whilst reading the numbers they can see. For older readers it packs a huge collection of number facts that they can astound grown-ups with!

I am a Bird by Isabel Otter & Fernando Martin

Isn’t this cover just glorious?! That fluorescent orange is just joyful and it’s continued throughout the book! With fascinating facts for young readers including why birds sing, learning all about migration (BookBairn’s newest fascination) as well as looking at different beak and nest shapes this book covers the smallest and the biggest birds on Earth. This book could not be more perfect for my bird-brained bairns and we look at it ALL THE TIME! It’s also incredibly beautiful and it’s artwork is truly stunning with a quirky style that is both true to the birds real-life shapes and colourings but also fun and relatable characters for children. It’s a new favourite! I can’t really give it higher praise than that (the bairns are quite astute in their taste and don’t hand that label out regularly!).

My First Cook Book by David Atherton & Rachel Stubbs

Get kids inspired to get cooking with this brilliant first collection of recipes from the 2019 winner of The Great British Bake Off. (I'll be honest I don't watch Bake Off so the reason I'm including this is because I think it's a really great first cook book!) Packed full of easy child-friendly recipes, there is so much imagination in this book about how to engage children with preparing, cooking and enjoying their food. With beautiful illustrations and clear step by step instructions, this is a book that is bound to set children off on their first cooking adventure!

Slow Down by Rachel Williams & Freya Hartas

The world may have finally been forced to slow down this year. But all around us, nature has been 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. Every wonder why children spend hours gazing in wonder at the little things, the little moments? It’s because they haven’t lost the magical childhood ability to see that those things aren’t actually little. They are feasts of wonder, fantasies brought to life, miracles in the making. This book will remind you the grown up, and encourage little ones 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. 

An Amazing Animal Atlas of Scotland by Anders Frang

This is one of the books that I was most excited about this autumn and it’s more amazing than I ever dreamed it could be. My bairns love an animal atlas/encycolpedia/anthology and as we live in Scotland they love to see the creatures that they know so well taking the centre stage in this new book! From the coasts, to the mountains, to the rivers and lochs to grasslands, no corner of our bonnie country is left unturned exploring all the wonder fauna that we call our neighbours. Although this book is full of fun and fascinating facts (and it surely is!), it is the illustrations that have truly drawn us in! They are the perfect balances between realistic and child-friendly with a natural colour palette that shows animals wonderful ability to camouflage but also makes creatures such as the kingfisher shine in all it’s iridescent glory.
The blurb of the book states: “Welcome to Scotland, home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and wildlife in the world.” And despite the huge challenge that this book could have doing Scottish wildlife justice, it really does bring to life that awe-inspiring world that is right on our doorstep. 

The Butterfly House by Katy Flint & Alice Patullo

Did you know a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope? And that they, along with moths, make up 7% of all life forms on earth with 180,000 different species. Butterflies and moths are beautiful. Written in a format that takes you through different “rooms” in the butterfly house you can visit the hatchery, feeding stations as well as different types of butterflies and moths (there are 10 times more species of moth than butterflies). BookBairn loves stroking the pages of the illustrations of the butterflies and I read aloud the facts which are written in short narratives on each page so are easier to read aloud than other non-fictions which often have different ‘sections’. She also likes hunting for the butterflies listed on the first page and also identifying the illustrations on the final page by going back through the book and finding the corresponding illustration giving this book an interactive element too. A beautiful gift to book!

Wild City by Ben Hoare & Lucy Rose

“Over half of all the world’s people are urban. But in the urban jungle, you’re never far from wildlife.” This is a subject that has fascinated me since I first saw a nature documentary about it - animals living in cities. And one of the things that I find fascinating about it is that humans live alongside these fascinating creatures, seeing them so often that the become part of the background (or at least people become so acclimatised by seeing them that they forget to be astonished!) And this book really is a celebration of all creatures, big and small, common and rare that roam or cities streets or fly across city skies. Looking at a variety of different cities around the world and full of fun facts on how wildlife has adapted and learned to thrives in a city habitat, this is such an inspiring wonder of a book. I adore it! 

I am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell & Lauren Mark Baldo

Cerrie Burnell writes in the introduction: “when I was younger, I wanted to be the child who flew to Neverland, or a magical creature, or a princess in a tower under a spell of a spindle, or have hair so long and tangled that people could climb up it.” But she didn’t feel like that was possible because none of the children looked like her. So to combat the lack of diversity in children’s books showing children disabled protagonists having daring adventures, so she has created one. A picture book anthology of disabled characters overcoming challenges, showing grace and resilience, facing judgment and rising with empowerment and with humour throughout. And to make that even better: it’s the stories of real life disabled artists, athletes, activists, thinkers, writers, performers and dreamers. From Beethoven to John Nash, and Paralympic heroes to so many people whose names I didn’t know and whose stories have now inspired me so much. This book has a new hero for everyone. And importantly it achieves that goal that Cerrie set out towards - it’s beautiful storytelling set alongside crisp graphics and stunning portraits. “Everyone deserves to live in an inclusive and accessible world and feel like they belong.”

Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity by Carl Wilkinson & James Weston Lewis

This one is perfect for the 'boffin' of the family (not really - in fact it's very well written so everyone can understand it)! Designed as an accessible guide to the concept of relativity and the impact of Albert Einstein's world-changing discoveries and words. Understand how Einstein came to write the most famous equation in history and see how the world was changed forever. Broken into bit-sized chapters, taking you through Einstein's mind, this is perfect for budding scientists everywhere. With bold and striking artwork to accompany, this is such a modern and exciting take on Einstein's life and work!

And I now realise that I missed out on of my favourites so I'm linking to the review I did of it on Instagram! So I'm popping that below so you don't miss out on a favourite!

I hope that helps you find something for any bookworms in your life - grown up or children alike! And if you want any specific recommendations please feel free to get in touch! All our social media links are in the header at the top of the blog - or you can just search 'bookbairn' to find us!

I have also added this list to my Amazon shop so you can find the links easily, just click on the new section for Non-Fiction recommendations where you'll find these books and many others.


This year I've also signed up to be an affiliate for Bookshop.org.uk where you can shop online whilst still supporting local independent bookshops! 

And of course you can always take a note of the books titles and go to a local bookshop or place an order with them.

Happy Christmas Shopping,

Kim and the elves xx

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 affiliate linked stores above and you choose to purchase on amazon.co.uk, amazon.com or bookshop.org.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20p-£1.50 per book) from those sites 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 comment:

  1. Another great selection of books for Christmas presents. I think I’ll get BookBairn’s Uncle Al “My First Cook Book” for his Christmas. 😜