Top Ten Children's Non-Fiction Books of 2016

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We really struggled to pick just ten of the wonderful children's non-fiction books which we've seen this year, but here they are, in alphabetical order by author.

The Great Fire of London: 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of 1666 by Emma Adams and James Weston Lewis

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While the average primary school child may not quite be able to fathom the importance and actual length of 350 years, it is no reason not to put a book out looking back that distance of time to major historical events. But it has to be a good book to justify the mental time travel that entails. And you have to hit on a remarkable subject, something that will open the young eyes to the danger, tragedy and drama of our history. Something like the Great Fire of London, as seen in this large hardback, which when it comes down to it, and for many reasons, is a very good book indeed. Full review...

The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig

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I grew up in the immediate post war period. Growing your own vegetables had been a necessity in the war and it was still a habit for those who had a bit of garden, so The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook was a real pleasure for me, as well as a touch of nostalgia. The principle is very simple: show children how to grow their own vegetables and then how to transform them into delicious food. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it might come as a surprise, but it is! Full review...

The Nature Explorer's Scrapbook by Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington

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An activity book, but not as you know it is what it says on the back cover - and I have to agree. Here at Bookbag we tend to avoid 'activity books' as they usually have soft covers, lots of stickers and they're the sort of thing you pick up at the supermarket checkout in the hope that it will buy you an hour or two's peace in the school holidays. The Nature Explorer's Handbook is a different beast altogether. It's part album in which you're going to collect and store your own finds, part explanation of the best practices of how you should go about this and part nature guide. It's a substantial hardback book with an elastic band to keep it shut - as it's really going to get quite bulky when your collection grows. Production values for the book are high - this really is something which will be treasured for years. Full review...

The Arty Book by Nikalas Catlow and David Sinden

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Arty is your creative friend. He is the star of this art activity book from Nikalas Catlow and David Sinden. He's a bit brusque on the first page. This is Arty announces a big, black arrow. And Arty commands, Colour me in. Who could resist? Because Arty is a winsome little figure with nutty, curly hair and great big red glasses. On the cover, those red glasses spell book and they look unruly and exciting, don't you think? Full review...

Build Your Own Website: Create with Code by CoderDojo

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The Nanonauts want a website for their band, and who better to build it for them than the CoderDojo network of free computing clubs for young people? In this handbook, created in conjunction with the CoderDojo Foundation, children of seven plus will learn how to build a website using HTML, CSS and Javascript. Don't worry too much if some of those words don't mean anything to you - all will be made clear as you read through the book. There's also information about how to start a CoderDojo Nano club with friends - which has great benefits in terms of harnessing creativity, learning how to code - and the benefits of teamwork. Full review...

Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson

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The number of young people suffering from mental ill health is increasing year-on-year. Yet we still find it difficult to talk about. And mental health still hasn't achieved parity with physical health in terms of services and healthcare available. Enter Mind Your Head. Full review...

Angry Birds Playground: Atlas (Angry Birds Playgrounds) by National Geographic Kids

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Angry Birds Playground is a new educational book series based on a geographical theme. Rovio - the team responsible for the popular game - have teamed up with National Geographic Kids to create a stunning set of books that perfectly blend the cheeky humour from the game with informative text and breathtaking real-world photography. The series will appeal to young fans of the game and anyone who has an interest in the wonders of the natural world. Full review...

My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson

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If you happen to have two children, born five years apart, you can count on having to live through practically four full years of school holidays – and that doesn't include Bank Holidays or teacher training. Weather permitting, that's well over 1,400 days where the impetus is on to take them somewhere, or spend money. So what better and cheaper place to take them than their own imagination? And if you can't quite unlock the door that leads there, we can certainly suggest this book. Full review...

This Book Thinks You're a Scientist by Harriet Russell

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This Book Thinks You're a Scientist takes children through a whole world of scientific areas: forces and motions, light, matter, sound, electricity and magnetism. It encourages children to look, ask questions and a have a go. This science-based activity book, published in association with the Science Museum, will stimulate and inspire young minds. Full review...

Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey

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Curiositree is a book that delights in the wonders and mysteries of the living world. It's a book for dipping into, with 67 stand-alone charts that examine subjects as diverse as birds' beaks and feet, the food chain, leaf shapes, eggs, habitat, metamorphosis, classification... There's a list of contents at the front and the book also has a helpful colour coding system, in case you don't know which chart to look at first. Yellow for charts on habitats, orange for species, and blue for special adaptations. Full review...

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