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Where's my bedtime story?

Are you facing picture book fatigue? A conundrum I currently am facing right now with my four-year-old is how to maintain his interest in books. As a lovely toddler, you had to negotiate him down from reading five books at way- past- his bedtime, to a more reasonable three books.

We would read the same picture books again and again, books about brothers, books about lost starts, books about tigers in gardens, books about a very hungry caterpillar, or a book about a dragon called Zog.

The gentle simplicity of these stories are wonderful to share, and I know just how much work goes into making a picture book. It often takes at least 12-18 months for a picture book to come to life, they truly are a labour of love and I adore them. 

I adore them, but my boy seemingly has lost interest.

But perhaps it is not that he has lost interest in books. Perhaps picture books are just not quite the right genre for him anymore.

As he starts to engage with the world around him more, non-fiction books are helpful in aiding this journey.

With my background in children's books, I find it really easy to identify and segment books into categories, but I realise its a vast world out there it can be a minefield to know what books to go to next if you are in that stage of transitioning away from picture books and navigating new types of children's books.

I have segmented non-fiction books into 3 categories as below and provided a few recommendations for titles which might suit your four-year-old if you are experiencing a similar transition away from picture books.

  1. Illustrated non-fiction books with lots of flaps

This format is really taking centre stage for my boy right now. I have included some links to examples below of books we love include 

Life on Earth: Dinosaurs

With lots of flaps revealing pictures and information this has so much detail to keep us all engaged. The text and fact vary in complexity so that you really are encouraged to revist again and again, and it can be great for a variety of age ranges.

There are many other books in this range as pictured below: 

    Life on Earth: Ocean: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! Life on Earth: Planet Earth Life on Earth: Human Body: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! 

Usborne have a number of non-fiction titles and See Inside Your Body title within the See Inside series banner is an evergreen classic, but there is a whole range to satisfy a variety of interests such as See Inside Castles or See Inside Space

  1. Narrative non-fiction picture books

A non-fiction picture book or narrative non-fiction, you may think this is a picture book in disguise, but even though my boy is moving away from the simple stories often shared in picture books, the format of full colour illustrations on every page is exactly what he is after. He loves detail and he sees stories in illustrations.

So if you want to move away from quick facts and have a non-fiction narrative, I recommend this stunning book River Stories by Timonthy Knapman, illustrated by Illustrated By Ashling Lindsay, Irene Montano. A gift book which takes  you on a world adventure via the Earth's greatest rivers with fold out pages.

Do you Love Bugs by Matt Robertson tells us why bugs are actually awesome, which is a brilliant way to introduce the world of insects in a fully illustrated picture book format to maintain interest.

  1. Activity non-fiction books

Perhaps a term I have just coined myself, but there are a number of titles which use printing technologies to really help illustrate non-fiction topics.

A brand new release which I am planning to include in a subscription parcel for a five year old is Hidden Adventures by Lara Hawthorne, this uses a red lens to reveal hidden pictures and facts.

Illuminature by Rachel Williams, illustrations by Carnovsky is one of the bestselling titles which has used this technology really effectively, I find that it really works so well to keep children engaged with books. 

Shine a light books from Ivy Press are also wonderful non-fiction picture books which use a torch to reveal hidden pictures. Again this is really good use of a printing technology and which kid doesn't love a torch at bedtime!


I haven't yet moved onto children's fiction books yet, perhaps when he is a little closer to five and discovering chapter books at school.

At the youngest end fiction books tend to be aimed at 5-7-year-old so I think I have a good while of exploring all the lovely non-fiction titles out there. And I am sure we will revert to a few of our beloved picture books. 

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