To celebrate National Non-Fiction November I have chosen some fantastic fact books featuring inspirational people who have each in their own ways made their mark on history. From philanthropic footballers to flamboyant play-rights to those who have risked their lives for the greater good. In this varied collection there is hopefully an individual whose ideals a child can look up to and someone whose reality reflects theirs represented within these pages. Amongst a wealth of brilliant non-fiction titles published this year for me these really stand out for their quality of information and striking illustrations. All of these books would make a wonderful addition to any school library.
Featuring 34 disabled role models from around the world and through history, ‘I Am Not a Label,’ is one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I’ve read this year. Cerrie has chosen a wonderful collection of individuals who have shown the world that living with a disability is not the thing that defines who they are but just one part of their lives. From more familiar faces like artist, Frida Kahlo and physicist, Stephen Hawking, to less known figures athlete, Terry Fox and software engineer, Farida Bedwei this is an intriguing and informative insight into their unique contributions in the world. I particularly liked how it highlighted mental illnesses and hidden disabilities, there is a real lack of understanding in society about the effect these can have on individuals so it’s importance for children (and adults) to see that they exist. It will make you think and challenge any preconceptions or misunderstandings you may have and allow you to see how people are discriminated against because of society chooses to label them. Beautifully told and illustrated with the most sublime spreads, this book is an absolute joy.
‘Have Pride,’ is a comprehensive insight into the LGBTQ+ movement around the world, focusing on significant events that changed the course of history and profiling leading figures from within the community. Truthful and thoughtful in equal measures it shows the horrific discrimination and persecution that has taken place throughout history and the struggles to achieve equality which still continue today. From the concentration camps in Germany to the Stonewall riots in New York, this book focuses on a mixture of terrible and hopeful events that marked real changing points in the movement. It’s honesty is a real insight for children today who may not be aware of the social barriers that people have worked tirelessly to break down in the fight for acceptance. By choosing to feature messages from young, modern day members of the LGBTQ+ community about why they are proud of who they are it teaches the reader to accept not only themselves but others regardless of their sexuality. Inspiring and educational, this is definitely a book that I would urge every teenager (and adult) to read.
Although there are a lot of incredibly famous footballers in the world, there is one young man whose name has dominated the media in the last few months and it’s not for his skills on the pitch. Marcus Rashford has become a national hero by standing up and demanding protection for those who live in poverty, convincing the government to overturn their stance on free school meals and most recently his announcement to support literacy and access to books. This book is part of the, ‘Football Superstars,’ series, highly visual and informative biographies perfect for younger readers with it’s accessible text featuring stats and expert tips about today’s biggest football heroes. I love how it mixes illustrations and facts so that young or reluctant readers can find out information without being overwhelmed by text. A really useful addition for a primary school library or classroom, Teachers and librarians can find resource packs here.
The Black Lives Matter movement has featured in many headlines this year, the death of African American George Floyd in police custody this year sparked worldwide protests and my experience is that it’s made children think about Black history more so than ever. ‘Timelines From Black History,’ encompasses a wealth of history from the wonders of ancient Africa kingdoms, the legacy of the US Civil Rights movements and features the lives of prominent Black people who have made crucial contributions to the world while encountering racism and inequality in their daily lives. In a world where the contribution Black people have made has been minimised, this celebrates key figures allowing the reader to discover more about fascinating and influential leaders all the way from Mansa Musa in the 13th century to Barack Obama in the 21st century. Produced in an engaging and interactive format and packed with vibrant illustrates it allows the reader to gain clear insight into Black history with a treasure trove of facts and information.
2020 will be remembered for many reasons as we are in the midst of a global pandemic but amongst the worry and the stress there was a tiny amount of positivity as the nation came together every Thursday night at 8pm to Clap for Carers. I’m sure this will stick in my children’s minds as neighbours gathered on doorsteps banging pots and pans and cheering on the heroes who were working incredibly hard. This books is a celebration of healthcare workers past and present who have put themselves on the front line and helped to take care of people in need. From Florence Nightingale, to unsung heroes whose names we might not recognise. this book is truly joyful and allows us to meet some wonderful people who are making a real difference to people’s lives. Featuring the most heart-warming and inspiring true stories of courage and dedication from those who don’t see anything extraordinary in the work they do. A really humbling and thoughtful read.
Thank you to DK Books, Simon and Schuster, Wellbeck Publishing and Wide Eyed Books for sending me gifted copies of these books. You can buy copies of these books now online (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local independent bookshop you can find your nearest one here.