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Check out our favourite factual titles for National Non-Fiction November

Written by · Published Nov 1, 2019

Rebel Dogs, Anatomicum, Earth Heroes

National Non-Fiction November highlights and celebrates factual books for children and encourages even the most reluctant readers to find something they like. We’ve picked out some of our favourites from 2019 to mark the occasion.

We can be heroes

Children Who Changed the World, by Marcia Williams

“Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Rights of the Child and the amazing children who have stood up for them all over the world. From the heroes familiar to everyone, such as Malala Yousafzai, to the amazing activists you might not have heard of, like Baruani Ndume, the teenager who gave a voice to fellow refugee children in Tanzania, discover the incredible true stories of child activists.”

Rebel Dogs! Heroic tales of trusty hounds, by Kimberlie Hamilton & Allie Runnion

“Get your paws on the stories and secrets of some of history’s most heroic hounds! An engaging collection packed with over 30 real-life dogs.”

Groundbreaking Guys: 40 men who became great by doing good, by Stephanue True Peters & Shamel Washington

“Our history books are full of great men, from inventors to explorers to presidents. But these great men were not always good men. It’s time for our role models to change.

“This book pays tribute to Mr. Rogers, Barack Obama, Hayao Miyazaki, and more: men whose masculinity is grounded in compassion and care. These men have varying worldviews and are accomplished in a range of fields, but they share important commonalities. They served their communities. They treated people with respect. They lifted others up. And they went on to create change, inspire others, and, indeed, do great things - not in spite of their goodness, but because of it.

“These men’s stories will educate, entertain, and encourage the next generation of writers, activists, entrepreneurs, and other leaders of all genders to do better and be better - to be truly groundbreaking.”

Heroes: inspirational people and the amazing jobs they do, by Jonny Marx & Gerhard Van Wyk

“Not all heroes wear capes. But some do have impressive costumes, amazing masks and astonishing super-human abilities. This book showcases more than 100 real-life superheroes, bona fide boffins, awe-inspiring athletes and sublime scientists and celebrates their astounding accomplishments. From the fearless firefighters who tackle blistering blazes to deft doctors that save lives on a daily basis, the world is crammed full of incredible people and the staggering things they’ve achieved can inspire us all.”

Earth Heroes, by Lily Dyu & Jackie Lay

“When faced with climate change, the biggest threat that our planet has ever confronted, it’s easy to feel as if nothing you do can really make a difference. Proving how individual people really can change the world, this book contains 20 inspirational stories celebrating the pioneering work of a selection of Earth heroes from all around the globe, from Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Yin Yuzhen and Isatou Ceesay.”

Little Leaders: exceptional men in black history, by Vashti Harrison

“This beautifully illustrated volume educates and inspires as it relates true stories of black men in history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible full-colour art bring to life both iconic and lesser-known figures. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop culture icons. The men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, photographer Gordon Parks, diplomat Kofi Annan, comic book author Dwayne McDuffie, and musician Prince.”

Queer Heroes, by Arabelle Sicardi & Sarah Tanat-Jones

“A beautiful, bold book of biographies celebrating the achievements of LGBT people through history and from around the world.”

Heroes: incredible true stories of courageous animals, by David Long & Kerry Hyndman

“For as long as there have been wars, animals have been out there saving lives. Courageous dogs, cats, birds, horses, and even a bear have shown courage and devotion, and this book tells you their extraordinary stories. This collection includes the story of Jet the Alsatian who became a hero of the Blitz, pulling survivors from burning rubble, night after night, Gallipoli Murphy, the donkey who served as an ambulance, Simon, the cat who saved his crew and many, many more. These animals help us to remember that not all heroes are human.”

Dream Big: heroes who dared to be bold, by Sally Morgan

“This empowering guide introduces fearless men, women, boys and girls who have spoken out and changed our lives for the better. They did it, so why can’t you? From Emma Gonzalez to Peter Tatchell, Adwoa Aboah to Muhammed Ali, this book celebrates sung and unsung heroes, reaching across all areas of life and to all four corners of the globe. Each personality is given a short biography detailing the inspirational things they have achieved by speaking out, highlighted with striking colour illustration.”

Character encyclopaedias and visual dictionaries

Essential reading for fans of all ages.

Disney Pixar Character Encyclopedia, by Steve Bynghall

“Do you know your Mike from your Mater? Or your Evelyn from your Eve? Dive into the wonderful world of Disney Pixar with this colourful, fact-filled guide to your favourite Pixar characters. Find out more about the greatest and funniest heroes, villains, sidekicks, and oddballs from across all 21 movies - including the newest characters from Toy Story 4. Whether your favourite character is Woody, Dory, Lightning McQueen, Edna, Bing Bong or Dante, this encyclopedia lets you relive their best movie moments and latest adventures, discover special ‘did you know?’ facts, and much more.”

Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, by Simon Beecroft, Elizabeth Dowsett & Pablo Hidalgo

“Want to know how tall Snoke is? Or learn where Maz Kanata is from? This character encyclopedia is full of fun facts and intriguing information that’s guaranteed to enthrall fans of all ages. With plenty of lesser-known details, even die-hard fans will learn new facts about iconic characters.”

Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia, by Adam Bray

“Learn the facts, figures, super-powers and origins of your favourite characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). From the Avengers and Ant-Man to Black Panther and Doctor Strange, this book spans over a decade of action-packed Marvel Studios movie releases. Filled with interesting facts and key information, whether your favourite hero is Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, the Wasp, Iron Man or Gamora, you’ll be able to find out all about their story, super-powers, weapons, and much more.

“It isn’t all heroes though; this book includes powerful villains and their followers, sinister spies, brave soldiers, and even ordinary people who find themselves caught up in epic battles!”

DC Ultimate Character Guide, by Melanie Scott

“Is Superman the strongest Super Hero alive? Where is Wonder Woman from? Is Darkseid the most evil Super-Villain ever? Who is the fastest man alive? Who are Batman’s allies? Have to know the answers to these questions? Look no further than the DC Ultimate Character Guide. Written by DC Comics experts, this illustrated encyclopedia features more than 200 incredible characters and Super Hero teams, including Batman, Harley Quinn, Justice League, and so many more.”

Lego Ninjago Visual Dictionary, by Hannah Dolan & Arie Kaplan

“This visual dictionary is packed with all the exciting LEGO Ninjago minifigures, including great heroes, mortal enemies and amazing weapons. Explore dramatic story lines from LEGO Ninjago episodes and movies. Discover everything there is to know about the LEGO Ninjago universe with this comprehensive guide.”

Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary

“Explore the Lego Star Wars galaxy with this visual guide to the minifigures, vehicles, and sets from the entire ‘Star Wars’ saga. Discover every detail of the Millennium Falcon, look around the Death Star, examine Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter, and find out about all your favourite Lego Star Wars minifigures - from Rey to Darth Vader.”

World-class adventures

Rescue: daring missions from on, under and above the Earth, by David Long & Kerry Hyndman

“How far would you go to save a life? Scrambling from the wreckage of his school after an earthquake, a nine-year-old Sichuan boy rescued two unconscious friends. ‘I was hall monitor,’ he said afterwards. ‘It is my job to look after my classmates.’ Whether dragging a friend from a blazing car, masterminding a search far below the earth’s surface, or recovering astronauts from an aborted space mission, Rescue reveals the ingenuity, courage and doggedness of the human spirit all over the world.”

Epic Tales of Triumph and Adventure, by Simon Cheshire & Fatti Burke

“Prepare to meet 66 exceptionally brave adventurers in this celebration of monumental achievements from around the world. These are the astonishing true stories of just a few of the world’s most daring men and women who defied all odds to achieve their goals and make their dreams come true.”

Incredible Journeys: discovery, adventure, danger, endurance, by Levison Wood & Sam Brewster

“Alongside real-life explorer Levison Wood, travel around the world, meet some of history’s most daring pioneers, and be inspired to go on your very own adventures! Embark on 20 epic expeditions alongside Levison Wood, from the Silk Road and medieval pilgrimages to the Holy Land to Nellie Bly’s trip around the world, and recent missions to the Moon and the Mariana Trench. Along the way, Wood shares his own insights into adventuring, telling you what it’s really like to follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great.”

Everest: the remarkable story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, by Alexandra Stewart & Joe Todd-Stanton

“In the late morning of May 29th 1953, the sun was shining brightly on the roof of the world, a gentle breeze was blowing and two men were there to witness it for the first time ever. Their names were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and the roof of the world was Everest.

“This is the story of how two very different yet equally determined men battled frost-biting temperatures, tumbling ice rocks, powerful winds and death-defying ridges to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain. Join these two unlikely heroes on the most amazing of adventures and discover the impact of hundreds of men and women that helped Hillary and Tenzing achieve their goal. But triumphs can be marred with tragedy, as not everyone who climbs Everest survives.”

The war against plastic

A Planet Full of Plastic, by Neal Layton

“Everything is made of stuff. Some things are made of paper, like this book. And some things are made of plastic. If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. Even in places where it’s not meant to be. If it drops to the ground, it doesn’t rot away - it sticks around for ever. Our world is drowning in plastic, and it’s a big problem.

“Award-winning author-illustrator Neal Layton is here to explain where plastic comes from, why it doesn’t biodegrade, and why that’s dangerous for animals and humans alike. But he’s also full of ideas for how you can help!”

Kids Fight Plastic, by Martin Dorey & Tim Wesson

“Have you got two minutes? That’s all the time it takes to become a #2minutesuperhero. Plastic is everywhere. It is in the rivers and it is in the sea. We need superheroes to fight plastic and help save our oceans. Read this essential book and find out how you can become a #2minutesuperhero by completing 50 missions to fight plastic at home, school and on your days out.”

Plastic Sucks! You can make a difference, by Dougie Poynter

“Plastic is everywhere and it sucks. It fills up our oceans, endangers our wildlife and never goes away. So it’s time to take action, find ways to cut down our plastic use and help protect our environment. Together we can make a difference!”

Big beautiful books

Mythologica: an encyclopedia of gods, monsters and mortals from ancient Greece, by Stephen Kershaw & Victoria Topping

“An illustrated encyclopedia of Greek mythology like no other, Mythologica features startlingly beautiful and exquisitely otherworldly portraits of mythological characters in eye-popping colour from artist Victoria Topping and authoritative text from Classics scholar and Greek mythology expert Dr Stephen Kershaw. Uncover the colourful lives of 50 powerful gods and goddesses, earth-dwelling mortals and terrifying monsters as you journey back in time to ancient Greece.”

Anatomicum, by Jennifer Z. Paxton & Katy Wiedemann

“Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore. Step inside the pages of Anatomicum to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home. This book guides readers through the human body, from the muscles we use to show emotion, to the delicate workings of the brain.”

The Big Book of Birds, by Yuval Zommer

“Why is a flamingo pink? Can a parrot talk? Is a bald eagle really bald? This book answers these questions and many more.”

Sophie Green

Sophie Green

I work for the Suffolk Libraries stock team. I also write children’s fiction, short stories and comedy. Visit my website.