Non fiction for under 5s

Did you know that November is National Non-Fiction Month? It’s a great chance to explore the wealth of non-fiction books available for children, often we don’t place as much importance of interest in them as we do fiction. But there are some wonderful books out there deserving of our attention. It’s easy to assume that non-fiction is something for older children, but under 5s are well-catered for too. After all, some of the first books we read with them can be counted as non-fiction, who hasn’t had a book along the lines of Baby’s first words? At 3.5 Bagl is most definitely interested in how the world around him works, so here are some of our favourites:

Usborne train books

Usborne Look Inside Trains

This was given to Bagl as a leaving present from his last playgroup. We actually have a version of it aimed at older children but this one is perfect for Bagl. It includes lots of lift the flaps and plenty of illustrations with clear and easy to understand information about trains. Bagl can now tell you about signals, names the parts of the steam train before I can and is fascinated by the world’s longest train in Belgium.

Big Book of Words and Pictures

The Big Book of Words and Pictures by Ole Konnecke

A beautiful and large board book full of words (note some terms are North American), it’s fun to go through and talk about all the different scenes, things like in the house, at the park, playing sport etc. There are also spreads with the alphabet and numbers. It’s the sort of book where you notice something new each time you read it.

One Day on Our Blue Planet

One Day on our Blue Planet: In the Savannah by Ella Bailey

Is this strictly non-fiction given it tells a story? Yes and no, the story gives information and the endpapers are a guide to the different animals found in the Savannah (one end for day and one for night). Bagl enjoys it (especially the Senegal bush baby for some reason) and the illustrations are stunning.

Lift the flap colours

Usborne Lift-the-flap Colours

A fun board book full of flaps to lift, with various different scenes and puzzles all about colours. Bagl has enjoyed it for a while, especially the scenes involving toys and vehicles.

Bagl currently has a book about home safety from the library but it is possibly one of the most joyless books ever (a family prepare for a party and during the entire book none of them ever smile) and must be out of print by now so I won’t tell you what it is. But he has asked us to read it several times a day so it has obviously made an impact on him. It’s got him exploring the non-fiction books in the library too, opening up a whole new world of knowledge to him. Some are hits, some he briefly looks at and forgets about (the joy of the library is that this hasn’t cost us anything, and maybe we’ve unearthed something we might never have known about otherwise). He had a brief phase of being interested in the periodic table thanks to They Might Be Giants (now there’s a band you can link into your non-fiction), and after asking fellow book lovers on Twitter I found a book in the library about the periodic table that I thought he might like. He wasn’t that taken with it (possibly because he is only 3, possibly because there were a lot of cartoony illustrations that didn’t look anything like the periodic table on the They Might Be Giants DVD), but I thought it was worth a go.

What non-fiction do your under 5s like?


One thought on “Non fiction for under 5s

  1. I’m rubbish at getting non fiction books for Eleanor, I just find stories easier to read! But she is really getting into science now so I’ve been looking out for some non fiction books relating to that. I know my family have got her some Usborne books about space, the world etc for Christmas so I think she’ll really enjoy those. We also borrowed a book from the library about the human body and she demanded we read it over and over! Maybe my insistence on stories is limiting her!!


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