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  • Our November blog is all about National Non-Fiction November. It is written by Zoe Toft who sits on the National Executive of the Federation of Children's Book Groups, where she has special responsibility for all things non-fiction. She regularly reviews children's books, including non-fiction, on her own blog, Playing by the book.

     

    Sales of non-fiction books for children and young people are booming: 36% more non-fiction books for children and young adults have been sold so far this year as compared to all of 2013. [1]
    40% of 8-11 year olds who read daily outside the classroom like to read non-fiction [2] and although I'd love to see even more children enjoying non-fiction, I think this isn't to be scoffed at given all the other options available for reading.

     

    So sales are up and there's strong evidence many children read non-fiction for pleasure and yet, looking at how the world of children's books is reflected in mainstream media, we might be led to believe non-fiction doesn't interest young people or their book-buying families.

    The Guardian website reviewed just two non-fiction titles for children in the past calendar year (compared to 110 reviews of fiction for children and young adults) [3]. Of the most recent 50 articles in the Children and YA section on the Telegraph website there are just three articles about non-fiction for children and young adults.

    Given that non-fiction for children and young people accounts for almost 15% of total high-street book sales for children and young adults so far this year (and that's excluding study guides and textbooks), we can see that non-fiction doesn't get the coverage it really deserves [4].

    Partly in response to this under-representation, The Federation of Children's Book Groups launched National Non-Fiction November this year. Born out of National Non-Fiction Day, 2014 has marked a new departure with the whole month now being a celebration of all those readers, authors, illustrators and publishers who have a passion for information and facts.

    Local children's book groups, the core membership of the Federation of Children's Book Groups, are holding events up and down the country themed around non-fiction / information books. Whether it is through local non-fiction festivals (such as that organised by Ipswich Children's Book Group), or events teaming up with nearby museums (such as the collaboration between the Imperial War Museum North and Saddleworth Children's Book Group), the FCBG is encouraging everyone to use November as a great excuse to highlight the best of non-fiction for children and young people.

    To showcase the variety of non-fiction available the FCBG is encouraging everyone - children, teachers, librarians, parents - to go on their own 30 Day Adventure in the Real World; each day this November the FCBG has been highlighting a different aspect of non-fiction for children and young people with interviews with non-fiction authors and illustrators, competitions, book lists, activity sheets and opinion pieces in a variety of locations including magazines, on the radio, and online across a wide variety of websites.

    There's still time for you to take part by looking for the links on the FCBG blog and using the hashtags #RealWorldAdventures and #NNFN on social media.

    If you, as an author, illustrator or publisher of non-fiction for children and young people would like to get involved in our plans for National Non-Fiction November in the future, please do get in touch; we'd love to hear from you!

    Notes

    [1] According to Nielsen, the total volume of non-fiction for children and young adults (high-street sales, excluding school textbooks and study guides) in 2013 was 4,576,844 while so far for 2014 the equivalent figure is 6,231,780. To date, this represents a growth of over 36% compared with last year and an 8.7% growth rate (in terms of volume) for the children and young adult market in total.

    [2] Clark, C. (2014). The Reading Lives of 8 to 11-year-olds 2005 – 2013: Evidence paper for the Read On Get On campaign. London: National Literacy Trust. 40.7% of 8-11 year olds surveyed read outside class daily (2013 figure). Of those, 39.3 % read non-fiction (cf. 50.5% fiction, 25.1% poetry).

    [3] www.theguardian.com/books/booksforchildrenandteenagers+tone/reviews Accessed on 10 November 2014. Of the 113 hits for "Children and teenagers" + "Reviews" on the Guardian website for the last year (10 Nov 2013 - 10 Nov 2014) a mere three (or 2.66%) are reviews of non-fiction books. On closer inspection, one of these was in fact a biography for adults, but of a children's author.

    [4] This under-representation is not limited to reviews. In the last six months (June-Dec 2014), there were 154 author events listed on the Book Events for Children calendar. 145 (94%) were events involving authors of fiction books, whilst 9 were by non-fiction authors (6%).

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