Best curious facts books for children
A treasure trove of maps of the odd, the mysterious and the completely bonkers: animals that rained from the sky, wonderfully-hued water, hoaxes and monster sightings, bizarre buildings, toxic treat foods, wacky adventure sports, unusual laws, historical mysteries and lots more. The bite-sized captions and detailed illustrations make up a perfect package for fact-hungry readers.
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Perfectly Peculiar Plants by Chris Thorogood
(£12.99, words & pictures)
An in-depth exploration of the world's weirdest, wildest plants, from the enormous Giant Waterlily to the tiny bumblebee-like Bee Orchid. Tentacled plants that eat insects, plants that murder other plants to survive, plants that live over a thousand years and plants that catch shrew poo for nutrients – budding botanists will love finding out about the wonderful flora that surrounds us, brought to life by vibrant, colourful illustrations.
(£16.99, Workman Publishing)
"Visit" unusual hidden wonders of the world with this junior travellers' guidebook to some of the most spectacular (but obscure) places on our planet. One hundred extraordinary sights, from lava lakes and abandoned amusement parks to enormous geoglyphs and 900-flavour ice-cream parlours, are presented with full-colour illustrations and lots of recommendations for planning some weird-but-true adventures. Guaranteed to give every member of the family some serious wanderlust!
(£20, Random House Books)
If your child loves the peculiar and the mind-boggling, there is no better compendium than the annual Ripley's Believe It or Not! compilation. Where else could you find out about human heads in jars, underwater singers, blue lava, houses made out of corncobs and the unfortunate patient who had to have 150 live worms removed from their body? You'll need a strong stomach to appreciate some of the weirdest (and most disgusting!) stories of the year.
Absolutely Everything!: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention by Christopher Lloyd
(£16.99, What on Earth Publishing)
Take a wild, whirlwind tour through time. You'll be journeying across continents and millennia to find out about the Earth's creation, the age of dinosaurs, human history and technology and lots more, all wrapped up in an anecdote-packed, fascinating narrative. The author set out to write a "gateway to all the knowledge in the world", to spark a "lifelong love of questioning and finding answers" – and we thoroughly enjoyed the beautifully illustrated result, very accessible to young readers (and older ones!).
The Book of Comparisons: Sizing up the world around you by Clive Gifford
(£14.99, Ivy Kids)
Sometimes it takes two facts, presented together, to help us understand the scale and significance of a piece of information. So you might not appreciate how far the blood of a human adult travels inside the body every day (19,000km) – until you understand that it's the distance from the UK to New Zealand! Or that the largest African Giant Snail ever found, 39.3cm long, was the same length as two size 12 children's shoes placed one in front of the other! A fascinating, illuminating read.
Who Are You Calling Weird?: A Celebration of Weird & Wonderful Animals by Marilyn Singer
(£12.99, words & pictures)
Immerse yourself in a world of animal stories – deep in the ocean, high in the forest and far under ground our Earth is populated by bizarre and beautiful creatures. There's the three-toed sloth, who can hold its breath for 40 minutes under water, and the hairy (actually spiney!) frogfish, the hoatzin "stink bird" and the long-living naked mole rat. Every corner of the globe is home to weird fauna, celebrated in all their strange glory in this compliation.
Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau
(£7.99, b small publishing)
Introduce your child to intriguing mysteries that have baffled us all for decades (or sometimes hundreds of years!), from the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti to crop circles and human self combustion. Read the factual evidence, consider some theories and make up your own mind about these bizarre cases with this fascinating case study book. Will it bust some long-held myths or confirm them?
The Clue is in the Poo: And Other Things Too by Andy Seed
(£12.99, QED Publishing)
A fact-filled guide to the subject so many children are fascinated by: poo in all its forms. Animal droppings, tracks and other traces can tell us so much about the natural world: prepare to be amazed (but perhaps a little disgusted) by what can be learned about wildlife from poop. A scatological jem for young and old, whether you're planning to explore wildlife in the environments around you or prefer to add to your knowledge from the clean comfort of the sofa!
Literally: Amazing Words and Where they Come From by Patrick Skipworth
(£9.72, What on Earth Books)
Did you know that the English word 'zero' comes from Arabic (it means empty space), and that 'companion' is dervided from the Latin for 'with bread'? Literally is a children's introduction to etymology, connecting the English languages to cultures from around the world and revealing the layered meanings and fascinating history of everyday words.
(£9.99, Britannica Books)
Packed with 400 crazily connected facts, all verified by Encyclopaedia Britannica, this beautifully illustrated book can be read in loads of different ways as you jump from one information trail to another.
A vast range of topics is covered, from bones to robots, pharaohs to space, allowing you to test friends and family on their general knowledge. Did they know that a squid has a brain shaped like a doughnut? Or that some butterflies drink turtle tears? Astound them by explaining what connects a giraffe with the Eiffel tower, or a slice of pizza with Cleopatra!
(£20, Britannica Books)
A vibrant, authoritative bumper question and answer book for KS1 children, with over 100 questions verified by Britannica experts.
WHY do elephants have trunks? WHY are clouds different shapes? WHY does popcorn pop? WHY do tummies rumble? Covering topics from animals and the body to machines and space exploration, you'll learn as many eye-opening facts as the kids.
(£18.99, Britannica Books)
Prepare your child to become a quiz master from an early age with this bumper book of bonkers but ingenious lists. Ever wondered which 10 dinosaurs were the largest, and what they weighed…in cats? Or how much of your DNA you share with bananas? Jumping spiders, exploding stars, howling monkeys, micro machines and loads more bizarre phenomena is listified and accompanied by imaginative illustrations.