LGfL's Response to Coronavirus

Safeguarding Blog Curriculum Blog

National Non-Fiction November 2020

National Non-Fiction November is the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual celebration of all things factual. Born out of National Non-Fiction Day, the whole month now celebrates all those readers that have a passion for information and facts and attempts to bring non-fiction celebration in line with those of fiction. The theme they have chosen for National Non-Fiction November (NNFN) for 2020 isThe Planet We Share’.

The theme this year reflects the widespread concern for our beautiful planet which is under serious threat – particularly from climate change and plastic pollution. These are big issues for young minds to understand and engage with, but non-fiction can help to explain the problems and suggest ways to help make a difference. Non-fiction can also provide inspiration for taking action, shine a spotlight on the wonder and beauty of the natural world and promote a real sense of hope for the future.

Have a look at their Book List which lists over 100 titles. Even so, it is by no means comprehensive and new titles will continue to be published. This year they have also included information about a selection of magazines that provide a different ‘non-fiction’ reading experience from books.

The List of Ideas for Activities is designed to provide families, book groups and schools with a menu of practical activities to help plan how to explore the theme and encourage reading non-fiction for general interest and pleasure. Activities listed include: creating a monster out of household rubbish, researching a key person associated with conservation and writing about them and fighting plastic with your voice (writing a letter or email to a local councillor or MP).

There is also a list of Resources which provides links, more ideas and information. One of the resources refers to 'Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth'. If you use these, do remember that we have recently redeveloped LGfL's ReadingZone Live resource and you can look for an interview with Oliver Jeffers on the site (Part 1 of the whole video conference is shown below).

"It started off as a book about the realisation that new life is a blank slate (trying to explain what a door is, and what a kitchen is for), and the strangeness of being a new parent. But as the book unfolded, so did the global events of the last year or so, and it felt like it became more urgent to reinforce some basic things my parents taught me about the simple principles of humanity. I wanted my son to know that while we are all unique individuals, we are all in this together."  

Using the extract from 'Here We Are', we have suggested lessons and also provided comprehension quizzes focussing on different reading content domains (see one of the tasks in the image below):

In addition to Oliver Jeffers, you will find other authors within ReadingZone Live who have written non-fiction books. Why not explore Andy Seed and discover how you can make non-fiction books interesting as well as his advice for someone writing a non-fiction book.

This year there are not one but two competitions. Find details here:


Whilst many of us enjoy the escapism we get from narratives and fiction, it’s certainly worth keeping in mind that many people prefer non-fiction. In particular, many learners with conditions such as autism prefer non-fiction to fiction so National Non-Fiction November is a great opportunity to celebrate literature that means the most to those who prefer to read about real people, places and events rather than imaginary ones.

LGfL’s library of Widgit Resources includes a wide range of symbol supported non-fiction texts including books on historical figures such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.  There are also many texts on topics related to geography and history.

If you are looking for accessible non-fiction texts to support the celebration,  you could also check out LGfL’s Fossils and Dinosaurs which a resource all about Palaeontology and the great reptiles which once reigned supreme over planet Earth. The resource is accompanied by differentiated materials designed to make the content accessible uses of a wide range of abilities.

If you are encouraging your pupils to write a Non-Fiction text about The Planet We Share’; they may want to research the experiences of polar explorers past and present. The LGfL resource "Polar Exploration - in the Heroic Age of Scientific Discovery" is a cross-curricular resource walking in the footsteps of the great Antarctic explorers.

LGfL worked with the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University in Creating these comprehensive resources, which provides a unique insight into the ‘Heroic Age of Scientific Discovery’ Featuring exclusive access to the historic archive of the most famous polar expeditions of the 20th Century, the resources include:

  • Video footage of equipment and artefacts from the most famous expeditions.
  • High-resolution photographs of objects featured in the video footage
  • Journal extracts read by a descendant of a member of Captain Scott's Discovery expedition
  • Interactive map of the Polar Regions with plotted locations of the multimedia assets
  • The opportunity to meet a modern-day polar explorer and hear of his experiences living for extended periods of time in some of the world's most extreme environments.

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13

Maths in the Real World has a range of activities that could be used to complement work for Non-Fiction November, there is Search and Rescue all based around HM Coastguard including a cross-curricular topic for KS2, Space Adventures for cross-curricular travel and why not plan a trip around the world, all the resources are supported by teacher guidance as well as activities for children from KS2-KS5

Thames in London - There are many reasons why towns and cities spring up around rivers, and it is these reasons that make them exciting to study. The River Thames in London resource helps pupils to understand more about this iconic river and how it has influenced and continues to influence life in and far beyond London. The resource has lesson plans and stand-alone assets for Key Stages 1-3, with high-quality materials provided by the Royal Collection Trust, Museum of London and The British Library.

Explore Geography from our AR and VR range (with free Geography ActivLens Augmented reality app for ioS and Android) brings the information sheets to life with videos, audio, 3D models and animation. The AR triggers embedded within the Active Worksheets can be distributed to students to support group or individual investigations. They cover a range of topics and concepts within both the KS2 and  KS3 curriculum and are perfect for using to cover specifications of the GCSE curriculum with students.

Spinning Planet looks at the Coriolis effect and is an interactive 3D model of the globe with students able to observe Hurricanes, Cyclones and Typhoons in action across the globe. With a Divided Planet, an interactive 3D model of the Earth enables pupils to examine lines of longitude and latitude alongside the tropics and Equator, these can be switched on and off and highlighted, something you are just not able to do on a physical globe or diagram.

You can watch a walkthrough of the video below:

During National Non-Fiction November you could also make use of the J2e Tool Suite within school in the following ways:

    • use JIT and j2e5 to create books about The Planet We Share or produce an animation involving Earth.
    • use the paint features to design modes of transport for the future (thinking about environmentally friendly or futuristic ones).
    • Coding - make use of JIT and j2code to write instructions and code for spaceships/rockets - there are also examples available like the rocket game below that children can use as a starting point.

BusyThings have a range of resources that could be used during the month including graphs to record how many items households recycle within a week, extensive maps within the geography area to recap countries around the world and you could use Busy Paint and Publisher to produce transport of the future as well as writing about their favourite destinations to visit. If you click on the "Special Events" tab within the teacher tools you will note there is a 'Libraries Week' listed in October. Why not use some of the activities they suggested for that week within National Non-Fiction November. See image below:

You can also use your LGfL USO account to access over 100 curriculum-based audiobooks, through Listening Books. These are a great tool for using with your students who have SEND or an illness which makes it difficult for them to read.  There are several non-fiction books available that you can listen to during the month including Horrible Histories, Coming to England, Mathmagicians and Why is Snot Green? and other extremely important questions.

Ideas with your Adobe Creative Cloud licences (claim here):

  • The200 word non-fiction challenges from DigiDom. (See below for a tutorial to help you get started with Spark Page)

Other Resources:

Dorling Kindersley Activity Sheets - Downloadable activity sheets for 7-9s include 'The Brilliant Book of Bugs' and' How to Make a Better World'. Follow the link to the Stay Home Hub where you can find more sheets including Environment: Celebrating the Earth for 7-11s.

The Great Outdoors booklist for children and young people (July 2020) by The Reading Agency - this ‘booklist is about books that immerse a reader in an environment, where the
setting plays an important part to the plot or shows the beauty of nature’. It includes poetry, picture books, non-fiction and chapter books that celebrate the great outdoors.

The Literacy Shed blog has a great post (from 2018) entitled: With Google at our fingertips, do we still need non-fiction texts? The post includes a short video and recommendations of non-fiction books for the primary classroom.

Whatever you decide to do during National Non-Fiction November, the month provides a great opportunity to promote reading non-fiction for pleasure, to allow young readers to indulge in fascination for facts and to celebrate, the breadth, depth and richness of non-fiction writing, illustrating and publishing for children and young people. (NNFN website)

Please let us know via our Twitter and Facebook pages or leave us a comment here to let us know what you are doing for Non-Fiction November #NNFN2020 and #ThePlanetWeShare.

Subscribe to our blog

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.