Children’s authors Nicola Davies and Dara O Briain join BookTrust to celebrate National Non Fiction Month

To celebrate National Non Fiction month this November BookTrust, the UK’s largest children's reading charity, has selected 12 brilliant non fiction books from its new Great Books Guide to help parents and carers get their children reading.

These engaging non fiction books approach subjects like nature, science and history in a variety of interesting ways and are suitable for children aged 4-11. Non fiction books are an excellent tool to help children understand the world around them and can often help reluctant readers turn pages.

We spoke to Dara O Briain, author of Beyond The Sky, about why he thinks non fiction is so important: “The thing about non fiction is that it’s about specialising and kids finding their passions. Start general, and then begin to find the things that children are really captivated by. Then you can burrow down and dive a little deeper. 

“I think there’s a bit of a fear around reading non fiction with kids, maybe in case they find it less interesting than fiction. We maybe have a tendency to think of non fiction as being linked to a school subject rather than an interesting thing in itself. We’ve got in our heads, bedtime stories not bedtime reading and I think we take that too literally at times. So my advice is fill their heads with facts, fill their heads with rockets, fill their heads with dinosaurs and all sorts of stuff that’s real and honest - and give them great dreams about science!”    

BookTrust Writer in Residence and non fiction author Nicola Davies said: “Reading non fiction is your key to the world and everything that’s in it. It can be the start of all sorts of explorations in time and space and send you off on adventures to find your way to see the world. And writing non fiction is a key too, a key you can offer people, so they can see how the world looks to you!”

BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2018 has 100 book recommendations for children aged 0-12 and was delivered to 22,000 schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland during October. This year the guide is beautifully illustrated by Mini Grey and features books from a host of wonderful authors and illustrators including current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, Taran Matharu, Judith Kerr and Chris Riddell. There are books in there about animals, space, mysteries and icons. 

Diana Gerald, BookTrust CEO said: “Non fiction books can help to teach your children about the world around them whilst also being fun, entertaining and beautiful to look at. Non fiction books can be a fantastic way to tempt a reluctant reader into sitting down with a book. We hope these non fiction recommendations and the other books in our Great Books Guide 2018 inspire you to help children find the right book for them.”

Non Fiction recommendations:

Creature Features by Natasha Durely (Big Picture Press) Age 4-5

This large format book about nature features tough card pages full of brightly illustrated animals, organised by their special features. Excellent for young readers building their vocabulary and learning about the natural world.

The Variety of Life by Nicola Davies, Illustrated by Lorna Scobie (Hodder Children’s Books) Age 6-7

Jam-packed with fun facts and figures, and stunning illustrations, this book not only encourages children to treasure the world’s biodiversity, but also indicates which species are threated by extinction. 

The Zoological Times: The Animal Kingdom’s Wildest Newspaper by Stella Gurney and illustrated by Matthew Hodson (Lincoln Children’s Books) Age 6-7

This funny newspaper-style non-fiction book features tons of facts, puzzles, jokes and activities about all manner of animals, from giraffes to lions. 

Dogs in Space: The Amazing True Story of Belka and Strelka by Vix Southgate, Illustrated by Iris Deppe (Wren and Rock) Age 6-7

This informative and appealing picture book details the true story of two space dogs journey through training to orbiting the earth and returning to safety.  

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala (Andersen Press) Age 6-7

Atmospheric illustrations accompany informative text in this inspiration picture book biography of a pioneering female scientist. 

Sports are Fantastic Fun! By Ole Konnecke (Gecko Press) Age 6-7

Full of brilliant detail about a vast range of sports this humorously illustrated picture book gives children a good introduction to the rules ad ethos of all manner of sports. 

Corpse Talk: Ground- Breaking Women by Adam and Lisa Murphy ( David Fickling Books) Age 8-9

In this comic book, chat show host Adam Murphy interviews 18 historical women, including Joan of Arc, Pocahontas and Anne Frank, all freshly dug up from the grave. 

Real-Life Mysteries: Can You Explain the Unexplained? By Susan Martineau and illustrated by Vicky Barker (Small publishing) Age 8-9

This fascinating collection of case files covers everything from crop circles to monsters, with a view to examining and evaluating all the evidence.  

Splat the Fake Fact by Adam Frost, Illustrated by Gemma Correll ( Bloomsbury) Age 8-9

With a series of interactive activities, this book not only allows children to find out what is and isn’t true, but also gets them to doodle, lasso and deface the fake facts. 

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins 

This beautiful book celebrates a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve. 

Alastair Humphrey’s Great Adventures by Alastair Humphreys illustrated by Kevin Ward (Big Picture Press) Age 8-9

An inspiring introduction to 20 adventurers and explorers from the last 700 years. This book will encourage readers to think a little more boldly and go a little further themselves.  

Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe by Dara O Briain, illustrated by Dan Bramall (Scholastic) Aged 10-11 

Packed with fascinating facts covering fundamental scientific questions, O Briain’s genuine love for science shines through, and his chatty, accessible style is perfectly complemented by the witty illustrations. 

Download your copy of BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2018 here.

The Square Camberley take part in Purple Tuesday

The Square Camberley is proud to be supporting ‘Purple Tuesday’, the UK’s first ever-accessible shopping day.

Backed by the government, Purple Tuesday takes place on 13th November with the aim to get retailers to take all kinds of disability seriously.

In supporting Purple Tuesday, The Square has updated their disabled toilet sign to a “Grace’s sign”, a unique and thoughtful toilet sign which asks people to recognise that not all disabilities are visible. 

Grace Warnock aged 12, has Crohn’s disease - an inflammatory bowel disease you can’t see from the outside. After facing continuous criticism for using disabled toilets, at age 10 Grace created “Grace’s sign”, a bathroom sign that includes both a person in a wheelchair and a standing person with a heart, symbolizing people with invisible conditions.

The Square has been highlighting the initiatives of Purple Tuesday among its retailers, alongside suggesting new measures stores can make to ensure shopping experiences are more inclusive for customers who have both physical and hidden disabilities.

The Square provides free wheelchairs for customers and on Purple Tuesday will have two dedicated staff to assist shoppers all day.

Purple Tuesday is being held in November ahead of the Christmas shopping period when busy stores, overloaded with stock can make shopping particularly difficult for those with disabilities.

Joana Santos, Marketing Manager at The Square Camberley, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Purple Tuesday and believe shopping should be a pleasant experience for everyone.”

Network Rail partners with Thomas & FriendsTM to teach children railway safety

Network Rail has teamed up with the world’s most famous blue engine and pre-schooler favourite, Thomas the Tank EngineTM, to help children learn how to be safe when using the railway.

The Stay Safe with Thomas story book sees the mischievous Thomas having fun on the railway over being safe, putting both himself and his friends in harm’s way.  He learns valuable lessons on the dangers of not stopping at a level crossing when the red light shows, leaving gates open to allow animals on to the tracks and when people stand too close to the edge of a platform.

Network Rail, along with British Transport Police, hopes the story book will encourage parents to discuss rail safety with their young children, in the same manner that they teach them about other dangers they may encounter when out and about. 

“The railway is full of both obvious and hidden dangers” said Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail. “By offering parents an engaging and fun way to talk to their children at a young age about safety on the railway, we hope children will grow up knowing the dangers and keep themselves and their friends safe.”

The launch of the story book comes off the back of the ‘You vs Train’1 campaign, ran by the rail industry and the British Transport Police (BTP), which targeted older children and teenagers to warn them of the dangers of the railway and that it isn’t a playground.

In the last five years, the number of young people taking risks on the railway has gone up by almost 80 per cent2.

Superintendent Susan Peters said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this initiative, our focus is keeping people safe and working with such a well-known children’s television character is exciting. This Thomas the Tank engine story book gives us an engaging and accessible way to ensure essential safety messaging is reaching young children. Although BTP runs activity through the year to educate the public of the seen and unseen dangers in and around the railway tracks, we hope that being able discuss this subject through the use of these books will make our safety messages go further.”

Senior Regional Licensing Manager, Publishing at Mattel Consumer Products, Maribel Le Gelebart, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Network Rail on the launch of the Stay Safe with Thomas storybook.  Thomas & FriendsTM has been teaching life lessons for over 70 years through storybooks as well as its exciting content and product ranges. So, it was a natural fit to collaborate on a rail safety storybook which leverages and reinforces the brands’ key values of friendship, teamwork and safety.”

Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) are distributing copies of the book to local libraries, nurseries and doctors’ surgeries across the country. A free, electronic version of the book will be available to download from 16 October 2018.

To download your free copy of the Thomas & Friends: Stay Safe with Thomas book please visit:

It's beginning to look a lot like... Christmas Lights!

Join us on Thursday 15 November when everywhere you go in the High Street will be filled with Christmas entertainment for all the family from 12noon until late at the annual Christmas Lights Switch-on event from Guildford Borough Council and Experience Guildford, supported by 96.4 Eagle Radio. The lights are switched on at 7pm followed by a grand firework finale kindly sponsored by White Lion Walk. 

We have all of your favourites including Santa’s reindeer and unicorns, live music playing all afternoon at the Experience Guildford stage and Guildford Fringe Buskers Corner and don’t miss the mascot parade. The Guildhall balcony show begins at 6pm, hosted by Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon. He will be joined by local sports stars and the cast of the Yvonne Arnaud pantomime including actress and singer Michelle Gayle. 

Cllr Mike Parsons, Mayor of Guildford says: “This wonderful community event marks the start of the town’s countdown to Christmas. Please join us as we illuminate our historic High Street and provide the opportunity for all ages to come together and celebrate the start of the festive season. A huge thank you to all of our partners and visitors that make this occasion so special every year.” 

He explains: “This year we have also provided some dedicated quiet spaces for those who prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of the High Street. You’ll find these at Skipton Building Society and Cosy Club* in Tunsgate Quarter. Staff will be on hand to calm and reassure visitors.” 

Amanda Masters, Chief Executive at Experience Guildford says: “Guildford is excitedly building up to what promises to be the start of another cracking Christmas. As ever, the lights switch-on marks the start of the festive retail calendar and the beginning of late night shopping. We’ve introduced new lights at the top of the high street to extend footfall throughout the town, have an enhanced retail and leisure mix to draw visitors from further afield and increase dwell time plus our work with organisations, such as GEEYOU, has helped make our town more accessible and inviting to all sectors of the local community. Thanks go to all the partners involved with getting this year’s celebrations off the ground, and here’s to a very prosperous festive season for all.” 

She adds: “New for 2018 we have a competition for everyone to get involved with. Simply find our Experience Guildford Christmas Elves (you’ll spot them from their costumes dashing around from 3-8pm), snap a selfie with them and share it on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) with the tag: #ElfieSelfie and #GuildfordLights to be entered in to a prize draw to win a family ticket to this year’s Yvonne Arnaud pantomime, Cinderella.”** 

Detailed programme for the day: 

12.00 pm - 6.00 pm Say hello to some of Santa’s reindeer on the Rotunda 
3.00 pm - 5.00 pm See real-life Unicorns from My Little Unicorn outside Debenhams or trotting up the High Street 
3 - 8.00 pm Find the EG Elves around town and get your #ElfieSelfie 
4.00 pm Experience Guildford Stage opens outside Holy Trinity Church 
4.00 pm Rock Choir 
4.30 pm Babama House Duo 
5.00 pm Emma Stevens 
5.30 pm Nefarious Picaroons 
4.00 pm Catch even more live music at Guildford Fringe Buskers’ Corner by the Scholar Statue. Including Majella Yorston, Performance Preparation Academy and various local choirs 
4.30 pm onwards Music and entertainment inside Tunsgate Quarter Shopping Centre provided by Guildford Fringe 
5.00 pm Join the Mascot Parade up the High Street, starting from White Lion Walk. Led by Guildford and Godalming Rock Choir 

6.00 pm Countdown to the switch on with the balcony show from the Guildhall, with Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon and the stars of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre panto, Cinderella 
7.00 pm The Christmas Lights will be switched on, followed by a dazzling fireworks display, sponsored by White Lion Walk Shopping Centre 

The Balcony Show will also be broadcast to two big screens, opposite Marks and Spencer and above the Experience Guildford Stage, so even more people can get a really good view. 

7.15 pm Boogie the evening away with Latitude (ACM House Band) 
at the EG Stage 
7.15 pm There will be choirs performing at Guildford Fringe Buskers Corner, Tunsgate Quarter Shopping Centre, Tunsgate Road, Market Street and on The Rotunda. 

(All information correct at time of issue and is subject to change). 

It’s time to clear the air say Surrey County Council

Walking, cycling or scooting to school is great for you and your child’s health and wellbeing. It reduces their exposure to exhaust fumes and improves air quality.

Road traffic is the main source of air pollution in Surrey. This pollution can affect children’s lung-growth, increase symptoms in those with asthma and contribute to chronic illnesses later in life – nothing we’d want them to be burdened with.

So it’s really worth considering how else you could get to school each day and leave the car at home if you can.

But if driving is the only way you can get the children to school on time, there are a few small changes you could make to help improve the air children breathe. It may be easier than you think.

Park a little further away and walk the rest– areas further away from the school may be quieter so it could be easier and quicker to find a parking space. 

Turn the engine off while you wait– you’ll reduce how much fuel you use so may save money too.

Changing how you travel to school, even if it’s just a few times a week, will help children breathe cleaner air. To find out more about how you can fill your children’s heads with fresh ideas and not exhaust fumes, visit

Surrey County Council is working with the Surrey Air Alliance, a partnership with district and boroughs to address local air quality issues.