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Teachers Reading Challenge

Spark children’s curiosity in reading for pleasure with non-fiction

By Georgina Dee, Publishing Director – Travel, DK Publishing

If you look up ‘curiosity’ in the dictionary, you will find a description of what we want for every child going through our education system: ​“the desire to know or learn about anything; inquisitiveness”​. Children are naturally curious about the world around us, with this enquiry into everything ​starting the moment they are born.​ A 2015 study​ found that children aged 4 to 7 were significantly more likely to prefer fact over fiction, more often selecting factual stories over make-believe ones.

We know that reading for pleasure is a really important gateway to educational attainment, better mental health and children’s understanding of the social and natural world. ​Over recent years we have seen a noticeable rise in the inclusion of non-fiction books in the curriculum as researchers globally recognise the increased value of these books as a pathway to learning. But what is important to remember is the role ​non-fiction books have in broadening children’s access to reading for pleasure.

At DK, we think of our books as being portals to the world of your passions. Through non-fiction, a child can tap into the interests they already have, but also broaden that interest through feeding their inquisitiveness; sparking the curiosity to learn more, read more and unlock their own potential. 

Children are simply curious about the world

Non-fiction brings alive subjects in a truly unique way with a wonderful combination of  words and images, engaging and stimulating children at all ages and abilities; enticing and capturing attention in a way that fiction often cannot. Non-fiction intrigues curious minds and improves reading skills simultaneously. Not every child is a confident reader and non-fiction books can provide a hands-on approach to learning, such as with fun experiments or activities that can be done in the classroom or at home, taking learning to a whole new level.

The Wonders of Nature
Super Simple Chemistry
The Book of Brilliant Bugs

Kids can learn contextually through illustration

Ground-breaking computer-generated images, state of the art photography, illustrations and easy-to-read layouts are used to ensure non-fiction books can captivate even the most reluctant learner. Gone are the days of non-fiction heavy text-based books, and the ‘infographic’ approach allows children to learn contextually; the written message no longer needing to be the gateway to bring the subject to life. Indeed, the smaller nuggets of text in a DK book give children the opportunity to stretch in their reading ability by choosing how far to take it without risking misunderstanding the whole book. Images also help make topics relevant, relating any subject to daily life and making more complex ideas and events accessible.

Robert Winston Science Squad Explains
What’s the Point of Maths
Knowledge Encyclopedia

Making sense of today’s world

Children want to understand what is happening around them and are incredibly engaged in many local and global issues. Enabling them to discover for themselves the issues they are passionate about, or want to understand, through trusted and well-researched sources is crucial for parents and teachers alike. Non-fiction books really help to ground difficult subjects for children in age-appropriate terms, not rushing their exposure and offering a safe platform to discuss and learn more. Our children are growing up in a world facing big issues that need big solutions. Sparking their curiosity and passion, through an inspiring collection of books in your classroom library, may not only unlock an interest that  surpasses the boundaries of the school curriculum but may inspire a future career that could truly make a difference.

Climate Emergency Atlas
What is an Election
Great Leaders
How to Make a Better World

The importance of choice 

If we want our children to read for pleasure, they have to be able to find books that spark their curiosity. We know that an important factor in reading for pleasure is choice. Having books available that reflect what children recognise from the world around them and tap into their interests already means they are more likely to want to pick them up and take them home. Even more importantly, they are more likely to take them out of their school bag and actually read them. Non-fiction books reflect the world through accessible text and images to engage all children. Children intimidated by the reams of text in the novels their friends are reading find knowledge and confidence in the non-fiction approach. If our libraries and schools are too weighted towards fiction, some of our children are less likely  to truly ​choose​ the books available to them.

What’s Weird on Earth
The Big Book of Dinosaurs
The DNA Book
Science is Magic

About DK

We believe in the power of discovery. That’s why we create books for everyone that explore ideas and nurture curiosity about the world we live in.

Classroom resources

Please feel free to use anything relevant from our ​hub​ – we have pulled a few examples for you below.

Behind the scenes in the museum
Stargazing beetles
Be a soil scientist
Bugs activity pack
Practical Science activity pack
What a Waste