At Hippocampus, we often sit around and dream about the day when teachers in India start taking ‘non-textbook’ books to class to supplement their teaching. Imagine reading out a story on division before introducing it in class. To be fair, there are many educators who are working towards making this happen. Fortunately, there seems to be an increasing number of imaginative information books that are being published and access to these have become easier.
We are also constantly hunting for books that manage to gracefully blend fiction and fact. These are usually perfect for young readers (ages 3 to 12) and especially for those who typically stay away from non-fiction. Although there is a general notion about non-fiction being more relevant for older children, we at Hippocampus feel that’s not true at all. Here’s a list of information books that we’ve put together for parents and teachers. We’ve included only books that we feel are likely to appeal to children. So if you have been putting off introducing non-fiction to your little one, look no further!
Recommended information books for young readers
For children between the ages of 3 and 5
1) How to Hide an Octopus & Other Sea Creatures by Ruth Heller
2) Let’s Go by Anthara Mohan
A counting book that explores numbers and different modes of transport both at once. Detailed illustrations by Rajiv Eipe are certain to keep children hooked.
3) If I Lived in a Tree House by Kalpana Subramanian
In this book, a little boy named Vir and his sister Anahi search for a perfect home of their own. Along this journey they discover all kinds of animals and their unique homes. This is the perfect book to introduce preschoolers to different habitats.
4) Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow
A little girl is wondering what to buy her mother on her birthday. And who better to ask for advice than a clever, chatty rabbit? A charming book which explores the theme of colours through rather witty conversations between the girl and the rabbit.
5) 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea by Katie Daynes
Children who haven’t yet begun to read will be fascinated by the visual details of this book. A great book for keen spotters!
For children between the ages of 5 and 7
6) Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
How big are the eyes of a giant squid? Can you imagine a tongue that is two feet long? Get your children to measure their body parts against that of the creatures in this wonderful book. This has to be one of the best information books for children that we’ve ever come across.
7) Everything Looks New! by Mala Kumar & Manisha Chaudhry
Although there have been several books published abroad on seasons, there are very few that are actually relevant to Indians. This title is part of a larger series on seasons called Rituchakra published by Pratham Books. Look out for all the other titles in this series as well! Hot tea, kheer, pakodas – they’ve got it all!
8) The Sea in a Bucket
Published by Eklavya as part of their Avehi-Abacus Project, this book explains how the water cycle works in a simple, engaging manner. Don’t miss the delightful poster that comes along with this book.
9) The Big Dipper by Franklyn M Branley
Use this book to explore stars and constellations with your child. Before you know it, you’ll have a young stargazer dragging you off to watch the night sky.
10) Biblioburro: A True Story From Colombia by Jeanette Winter
The stories of ordinary heroes often remain unheard. Here’s the inspiring story of Luis who travelled far and wide to bring treasured books to book-hungry children in rural Columbia.
For children between the ages of 7 and 9
11) Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There is? by Robert E Wells
Now here’s a book that you can use to teach your child about size, measurement and relativity. Wait, did that seem boring to you? Then you ABSOLUTELY have to get your hands on this book to see how much fun it actually is. Perfect for classroom libraries!
12) Postcards From Ura by Savita Rao
A perfect blend of fiction and fact, this book gives us a glimpse into the lives of people living in Bhutan through the heartwarming letters exchanged between two young boys.
13) My Name is Amrita… Born to be an Artist by Anjali Raghbeer
There aren’t enough biographies based on the lives of Indian women. Nor are there enough biographies on Indian artists. Reading like a diary, this important book gives us a peek into the childhood of Amrita Sher-gill, one of India’s iconic painters.
14) Plants Bite Back! by Richard Platt
There are plants that prickle, sting or even munch insects for lunch. So never bite a strange plant. What if it bites back? An interesting read for children who enjoy straightforward non-fiction books filled with photographs and intriguing trivia.
15) Icy Escape! by Mary Pope Osborne (from the Magic Tree House series)
“Even though polar bears can weigh as much as 450 kilograms, they can walk on ice that is too thin to hold a person.” This is the astonishing fact that got the author excited about researching the Arctic and writing this book. An Arctic adventure that is certain to thrill children who are comfortable with chapter books.
For children between the ages of 9 and 12
16) Fantastic Mr Dahl by Michael Rosen
How did a young boy from a small town in Wales grow up to become one of the world’s greatest storytellers? Award-winner author Michael Rosen traces Roald Dahl’s journey to discover what made his writing so rich.
17) Find the Constellations by H A Rey
An essential read for children and adults who are interested in astronomy.
18) My Facebook Friends by Kavita Singh Kale
Inspired by social networking, this beautifully illustrated book is certain to bring the world closer to any young reader. Get your map out and listen to diverse stories from all over the world.
19) Let’s Go Time Travelling! Life in India Through the Ages by Subhadra Sen Gupta
It’s not easy to encourage children to discover the history of their home country until they realize that they can have fun while at it. Well, here’s the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Travel through the alleys of Indian history and take a tour through the various ages from Harappa to the Maurayan, Mughal to the British.
20) Bulging Brains by Nick Arnold (from the Horrible Science series)
The Horrible Science series is a great example of how to make science appealing to children. Discover why ice-cream gives you a headache, how chopping your brain in half needn’t be fatal and whether girls or boys are the real masterminds, in this book about grey matter.
This is part of the August Read With Me special series on children reading for a better tomorrow. This article comes to us from our Reading Partners, Hippocampus.
Hippocampus was founded in 2003, with the vision to inspire children to read more. The first of its kind Children’s Experience Centre in Bangalore– a unique concept- was set up with the idea of creating a fun place for children filled with books and activities, so as to promote ‘reading for joy’.
Ten years later and having added a branch in Chennai it continues to be a library and activity centre hosting events that promote reading among children from 0-12 years and strives to increase awareness about the importance of reading among parents through specially designed workshops and regular one on one interactions.
The School Services Program collaborates with educational institutions to create Active School Libraries with the help of specialized offerings such as book curation, library and curriculum centric activities, librarian workshops and annual networking events all aimed at making school libraries ‘active reading and learning spaces’.