By Pauline Bird, Emily De Vogele and Cameron Phillips
With school starting again in a few weeks, we wanted to share some of our favourite non-fiction titles from the past few weeks, to get you in the mood again for education and the upcoming autumnal season.
My Football Hero: Harry Kane: Learn All About Your Favourite Footballing Star: Biography for Kids by Rob Green, narrated by Steve King
Why do you read and what prompts your book choices? For me, reading – whether reading or listening to a book – is all about escapism. This means I’m often drawn to historical fiction or fantasy genres that transport me to another world away from my everyday life. However, reasons for reading can vary from person to person. Some want humour while others want to learn. We can even find that our own choices differ depending on the context. For many children however, the motivation to read can be both intrinsic (like my examples) or extrinsic e.g. a desire to please parents and carers or teachers. If we want children to enjoy reading for pleasure (and enjoy the numerous life-long benefits associated with this) then it is the intrinsic motivation which we need to encourage.
One way to support this is to provide texts which children enjoy reading or listening to. Audiobooks come in a wide range of genres and this includes a vast non-fiction collection. For me, this would not be my go-to choice. However, my eldest son loves non-fiction – particularly biographies. As he is an avid football fan, I thought a biography of a football player might be a great listen for him. I discovered a series entitled My Football Hero and I selected the most recently published – the Harry Kane one for him.
It proved a great choice. It was a short listen – about an hour – and is divided into easily digestible short chapters which takes us through Kane’s life. I liked that it clearly demonstrated the hard work Kane put in to achieve his success. I felt it could be quite inspirational for our young people who enjoy football and want to improve their skills. My son also enjoyed it and is requesting more from the series. Always a winner in my book!
Know My Name, by Chanel Miller, narrated by Chanel Miller
If you’ve been reading our magazine for a while, you know historical non-fiction is usually my go-to. However, there’s one non-fiction audiobook that listened to outside of my comfort zone that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, and that’s Know My Name by Chanel Miller.
Chanel Miller was previously known as Emily Doe, her victim impact letter went viral online after the trial of Brock Turner where he was found guilty of sexually assaulting her. However, much to society’s uproar, he was only sentenced to six months in jail. Her letter changed California law and was read on the floor of the US Congress.
After years of living in the shadows and keeping her identity a secret, Miller came forward to reclaim her name and her story.
I knew this would be a heavy listen going in, but nothing prepared me for the emotional impact this would have on me. Miller narrates her own book, which makes it feel all that more personal to the listener. She walks us through the night and the incident, traumatic detail by traumatic detail. She doesn’t shy away from the brutal horrors and awful experiences she faced in the wake of her attack.
The sound of her reading back the most devastating night of her life is something that will stay with me forever. I do not have the words to encapsulate how haunting and ground-breaking this book is. It’s a difficult listen, one that you should only start if you’re in the right headspace, but one that is beautiful despite all odds.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson
I’ve always been attracted to things I do not understand, and the cosmos is right up there. I am also a huge fan of people who are able to communicate complex topics in simple and non-patronising ways. Neil deGrasse Tyson absolutely does this in this magnificent work that covers topics the speed of light, dark/antimatter, and something as everyday as gravity. Tyson does a great job in keeping his tone jovial whilst sticking on topic, never straying too far into the elementary or inane. He is so passionate about this work and the cosmos, and it infectiously oozes from the recording. The next hundred years for space travel and exploration, considering the last hundred years and the exponential potential of technology could be mind boggling, and this book is a great platform for anyone like me who was baffled by science as a child.