On World Book Day 2022, the newly launched Rocket Ahead paid a visit to Allfarthings Primary School in Wandsworth, to discuss how reading non-fiction can prepare pupils for a life beyond the school gates.
Rocket Ahead believes that access to non-fiction reading can be the crucial spark that ignites the recognition of a child’s individual potential. And what better way to kick start these mini revolutions, then to send each child home with their own copy of Marcus Rashford’s You Are A Champion, kindly donated by Macmillan Children’sBooks.
Speaking to a group of Year 6 students, founder Vicki Willden-Lebrecht’s aim for the day, was to encourage the students to recognise how non-fiction is an excellent gateway to explore the many opportunities that lay ahead.
“At an age where children are starting to question their direction, non-fiction can be a huge source of inspiration. Children can discover new interests, expand world views and develop existing curiosities through reading non-fiction...”
But it’s not just the rich bounty of subjects that makes non-fiction an important medium for this age group. As students transition to senior school, the shift from reading for pleasure to reading for exams becomes an unwelcome barrier for many students.
Rocket Ahead believe that the variety of contemporary non-fiction can foster a relationship with reading that may not otherwise exist. They believe that to make the immeasurable benefits of reading available to all children, we must be inclusive of all reading styles. Vicki explains how non-fiction accommodates varied readerships:
“As a child with dyslexia, I was aware of the difference in how I absorbed information and often felt excluded. Non-fiction accommodates everyone. The short attention span of an episodic reader, for example, may welcome a punchy fact page, whereas a visual learner may pour over the intricate details of a beautifully illustrated diagram or a map…”
It’s clearly an exciting time for non-fiction. Not only does the variety of topics mean there is a book for everyone’s interest, but publishers are getting more and more creative, pushing the boundaries in the ways reference is presented to children. We’ve seen a huge uptake in realms of narrative non-fiction, with non-fiction graphic novels like Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker putting a visual spin on LGBTQ+ rights. And unsurprisingly, there’s an increase in tech cooperative books like “Code Your Own Games.” where readers interrelate their reading with programmes like Scratch. This bold creativity is no better illustrated than in Build this Book, where children are instructed to use every foldable page to construct engineering projects of their own. The entire product, right down to the spine, is reusable. It's easy to see how the genre of non-fiction has upped its game, in terms of influence and impact.
Everyone at Rocket Ahead is incredibly proud to have started their mission to champion non-fiction to all primary school children, across the UK.
"It was such a pleasure to be welcomed in the classroom, on world book day, by our future leaders, thinkers and innovators. It was even more of a pleasure to gift them such a momentously motivating non-fiction read, for them to take forward in the next stage of their educational adventure.”