Get into books by reading about 'Ugly Animals'

For some children engaging with books does not come naturally and they can become reluctant readers. You might not have ever considered non-fiction books for children, but these are an alternative way to excite and re-engage these reluctant readers.  

Non-fiction books are great because you can choose books that focus on topics like dinosaurs or bugs that you know your child is interested in, this instantly adds to the appeal and readability of the book.   

This year the Children’s Book Council of Australia have shortlisted a cracker of a non-fiction book, Sami Bayly’s, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals. This book sums up all the best things about junior non-fiction book and is sure to get even the most reluctant reader pouring over the pages and exclaiming over the “ugly” illustrations.  

For parents and carers one of the best things about non-fiction is that you can engage with it in different ways depending on the age of your child. For young children you might just talk about the pictures and for older children you can help them read some fun facts or ask them to find out more information.  

“The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals” features 60 detailed illustrations of weird, wonderful and very ugly animals that will fascinate both children and adults alike. These scientific illustrations are great conversation starters and easily draw children in. For children who are detail orientated, each animal featured has information on conservation status, description, diet habits and fun facts. Did you know that a Naked Mole Rat will often eat another’s poo? What child wouldn’t find this information fascinating or hilarious?  

For those children that are into the statistics and details, there are facts and figures for each species and visual guides for size and scale.  

Although this book did not win, it’s sure to win the hearts of many children. 

Here are some other options for fact finding reading that could spark an interest to read further: 

  • Searching for Cicadas, Lesley Gibbes and Judy Watson  

  • National Geographic Magazines 

  • Guinness World Records (any year – it doesn’t worry young children) 

  • Dinosaur Atlas, Anne Rooney and James Gilleard 

  • Bugs A to Z, Caroline Lawnton  


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