National Non Fiction November (NNFN) was developed by The Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG) from librarian Adam Lancaster’s original idea for an annual celebration of reading information books for personal interest and pleasure. As so many children and young people, and adults for that matter, prefer reading non-fiction, the FCBG felt that this area of reading, writing and publishing deserved more space and time than the original day could offer.
For the past two years, a theme has been chosen to add cohesion to the event and to offer participants – children’s book groups, schools, public libraries and book shops – an optional hook to hang their own events, activities and displays from. Last year’s focus was World War One, for example, and this year’s theme is Maps.
With the support of Lonely Planet, FCBG has been able to offer their children’s book groups opportunities to bid for a visit by author and publisher Jen Feroze, and to enter a competition to design their own country and map. Some of the support materials are more generally available and the dedicated pages on the FCBG website offer a range of additional ideas and resources for anyone interested in getting involved.
During November look out for a huge variety of news articles, opinion pieces and competitions both online and also in traditional media, all focussing on non-fiction for children and young people.
Fortuitously, NNFN coincides with the announcement of the winners of the School Library Association’s Information Book Award sponsored by Hachette Children’s Books. This provides a fantastic opportunity to highlight some of the most inspirational books of the year and get young people involved in reviewing and voting for their favourites.
As librarians, we endeavour to spend our budgets wisely and to choose and promote the best of what’s currently available - on any subject. However, books about the world we live in need to be very carefully selected and regularly reviewed, simply because information about this area of knowledge is constantly changing; and with the arrival of the digital age, we have to ask whether print based maps, atlases and books about different countries are gradually becoming less relevant.
My personal view is that while new technologies have enhanced the way we can view and navigate the world, print based maps and books still have a vital role to play as engaging and stimulating sources of information. The very physical experience of using large format atlases, fold-out maps, pop-up books and flap books cannot be truly replicated on screen, and publications like these have the potential to engage, excite, delight and thereby inform the reader.
Linking of print and digital
Not surprisingly, some publishers are now linking digital and print based publications. The most recent edition of Dorling Kindersley’s Children’s World Atlas, for example, has an accompanying interactive CD and is also available as an ebook. Some books have associated Apps. The App linked to the Barefoot Books World Atlas, for example, allows the user to rotate a three dimensional globe to explore the world, with the option to add expansion packs on cities, world art and international football. Meanwhile, the Lonely Planet Kids Amazing World Atlas Game offers a range of playful ways to learn, with interactive maps, quizzes and games.
Fascinated by facts
While all three books are stunning publications in their own right, the optional applications cater for different reading styles and preferences, thus making the information more widely accessible for young readers who are simply fascinated by facts.
National Non Ficton November celebrates all of those readers with a passion for information and facts and continues to make a significant contribution to bringing the celebration of non-fiction in line with the well-established celebration of children's fiction.
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