10 inspiring books for kids that will make you Parent Of The Year
Meet the 110-year-old marathon runner, a woman who lived with chimpanzees and our favourite Bond (it’s not 007)
Imagine comic book superheroes living in the real world. Peter Parker getting bitten by a souped-up spider would have sent him to Kokilaben Hospital to be flushed with antibiotics, not given him superpowers. Tony Stark’s wife would be complaining to her therapist that his metal heart had made him emotionally unavailable. And Wonder Woman would definitely have launched her own line of anti-ageing products.
No, we’re not having an existential crisis. The point we’re trying to make is that while these imaginary heroes have been saving the fictional world for decades, we wish young minds learnt more about the real-life heroes, operating in our midst, whose powerful actions and smart choices have actually sparked change.
We know how heavy and, sorry to say, boring ‘non-fiction’ sounds. Almost takes you back to your school history classes that never seemed to end and the 325 dates you had to mug up for the exams.
We believe that an easy way to alter this perception for your little kitaabi keeda is by looking at them as real-life stories.
Also, it turns out that while we adults may find reading non-fiction a bit of a drag, a study by psychologists found that children prefer non-fiction books to fantasy.
Through over non-fiction books for kids, they read about the lives and escapades of real people whom they can look up to and be inspired by. They get to learn about the many challenges of life and how people overcame these obstacles, even when all the cards are stacked against them.
Through non-fiction books for kids, they can journey to Antarctica on Ernest Shackleton’s polar expedition. Travel to West Africa and learn how a young boy managed to build a windmill with scraps and bicycle parts to bring water and electricity to his small village for the first time. How a young girl and her placard kickstarted a global movement to hold governments accountable for their inaction to combat climate change.
We’ve curated a selection of some of the best non-fiction books for kids aged 6-10. These will excite them with engaging stories, inspiring deeds and vivid illustrations.
Non-fiction books for kids to light a spark in their young minds
Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Plane by Valentina Camerini
You can never be too young or too small to make a difference in someone’s life. In Greta Thunberg’s case, her environmental activism has inspired young people around the world to stand up and speak up for our future.
The image of 15-year-old Greta, wrapped up in a yellow jacket, holding a sign while standing outside the Swedish Parliament is one of the most memorable moments of 2018, if not the decade.
Written by Camerini and illustrated by Veronica Carratello, this book reveals how a young schoolgirl inspired a global movement that’s forced world leaders to sit up and take notice, and hopefully, pushed them to take climate change more seriously. Young readers will be taken back to Greta’s school days, the questions she began to ask and how it led to her fiery speeches. Inspiring not just little ones, but adults the world over.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh
Fauja Singh was in his 80s when he ran his first marathon. His is a real-life story of determination and grit to overcome the obstacles life presents us with. The Turbaned Tornado, as he has been dubbed in pop culture, wasn’t born strong.
We learn about how he built his strength over the years, overcame childhood bullying because of his sickly form to follow his passion for running. Through Baljinder Kaur’s delightful illustrations, readers get to travel along with Fauja Singh on his journey from a young boy living in a village in Punjab to an adult living in the UK and going on to break world records at the age of 100.
Fauja Singh gives us these pearls of wisdom in the forward of the book, saying, “All my life, people set limitations on me. They said I would never walk…They certainly never thought I would set records with my running. No matter what people said, I always believed in myself…I never gave up. And I always held on to hope…”
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark
When they get older young kids will get to learn the works of poet Lord Byron in English class. We think right now is the perfect time for them to be introduced to his genius daughter, Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer.
It’s thanks to the foundation stone she put down that today we get to quickly Google the best movies to watch with kids when you think it’s time for a break from cartoons.
Lovelace was a mathematician who used her creativity and critical thinking to come up with what is considered the first machine algorithm to process computational data at a time when even computers didn’t exist.
At a time when diversity and representation are still lacking from the STEM space, Ada’s story inspires mini readers to continue breaking the glass ceiling in whichever field their desire. Whether it’s by opting for a course people may say is ‘unfit’ or just by throwing a computer at it to create a path for yourself.
When I Grow Up I Want To Be… Book 2 by Tweak Books
Our second children’s book features local heroes — like your next-door neighbour’s son who rescued and rehomed more than 300 stray puppies and kittens, or a school teacher who changed education in Indian villages.
Young readers will get to read about how a man encouraged people to clean up a beach by teaching kids how to surf. They’ll meet a loving mother of 60 daughters (yes, you read that right) and a genius who turned air pollution into ink.
Their experiences of overcoming challenges are told in language simple enough for children to understand but vivid enough for you to also enjoy story time — transport your mini-mes into a world of endless possibilities.
I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltze
Dr Jane Goodall, who spent years living with and studying chimpanzees, is Mowgli come to life for young readers. It’s through her research that we got to learn so much more about our primate brothers.
Christopher Eliopoulos’ illustrations show young Goodall falling in love with animals and turning that passion into a lifelong career and effort to protect wildlife.
From the fact that they can make tools to their eating habits – Goodall’s contribution has been tremendous when it comes to better understanding and coexisting with not just chimpanzees, but all animals.
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Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill
Let your children embark of an icy adventure through the story of polar explorer Earnest Shackleton’s expeditions to Antartica.
Your young explorers get to learn about the wilds and wonders of the icy continent, what went into Shackleton’s preparation for these incredible expeditions – putting together the crew, finding funds and making travel arrangements– to caring for their companion snow dogs as they navigated the expansive and harsh white landscape.
Grills’ detailed drawings weave in engaging storytelling and facts about the real-life journeys.
Grills gives readers a history lesson without the mundane diagrams and ‘did you know?’ fun fact boxes.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
A young William Kamkwamba’s incredible journey of innovation gave his village a second chance at life. His biography is a worldwide best-seller, but this young reader’s edition will connect with little ones the world over.
A terrible drought had hit his small village in Malawi, East Africa. He started digging through the science books in the village library and discovered windmills. Then realised he could make one on his own using scrap metal and old cycle parts.
He got scolded by the elders in the village, many people even called him crazy. But at the end of it, his homemade windmill managed to bring electricity to his tiny village.
Amrita Sher-Gil: Rebel with a Paintbrush by Anita Vachharajani
If your child’s favourite possession is their colouring book, then Vachharajani’s account of India’s enthralling painter will be a thrill for them to read. Amrita Sher-Gil fought back against many social norms that were imposed on young women at the time. She created a path of her own to become one of India’s first professional female artists.
Kalyani Ganapathy fills the book with her illustrations of Sher-Gil’s life, as well as photographs taken of the painter by her father Umrao Singh Sher‑Gil and her incredible paintings. Join the Sher-Gil family on their cross-continent travels, explorations with art and more.
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick
From a very young age, Malala Yousafzai was taught to stand up for what she believes is right. She loved more than reading and going to school. But things seemed to be changing when the Taliban announced the shutting of her school. She was only 15 years old when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking up for girls’ education.
But their cowardice was no match for Malala’s strength. Despite being dealt this almost fatal blow, she has continued to campaign for girls education around the world. Setting up the Malala Fund with her father, they continue to advocate for quality education for women, including building a school in rural Kenya and funding supplies for schools in Pakistan. She also built a school in her home, Swat Valley in Pakistan, where she was shot, using the money she got from her Nobel Peace Prize.
These Are A Few of My Favourite Things by Ruskin Bond
The real Bond of Indian childhoods is Ruskin, not 007. The beloved author has given us gems like The Blue Umbrella and Crazy Times with Uncle Ken.
With this Bond fans get a non-fictitious glimpse into the life of the writer. This is more like an activity book to engage your mini-mes that shares with them aspects of their favourite author’s life and answer some of their pressing questions.
Who is Mr Bond’s favourite writer, what does he like to snack on at 4 PM and does he watch cricket? The book encourages you to appreciate the smaller things and special moments of life, just as Bond himself does, as well as getting readers to share their own in their slam book format.
An entertaining little booklet for fans of Bond, young and old alike.