Solstice: Around the World on the Longest, Shortest Day by Jen Breach

Solstice – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: A solstice tour of the globe.
Children’s book title: Solstice: Around the World on the Longest, Shortest Day.
Children’s author: Jen Breach.
Children’s illustrators: 14 global artists.
Genre: Children’s nonfiction.
Published by: What on Earth Books.
ISBN: 9781913750770.
Recommended for children aged: 7+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback May 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: those youngsters in your life with an insatiable thirst for facts! This book uses the solstice as a means of offering a snapshot into daily life around the world on the same day, so there is an opportunity to learn about the culture, language and daily activities, as well as how each place experiences the solstice.

Solstice: Around the world on the longest, shortest day by Jen Breach

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Our review:

It would be difficult to be sufficiently effusive in your praise for this gem of a junior non-fiction title! Initially, it presents as (finally!) appealing topic support for Geography or Science lessons when covering the concepts of the equator, seasons, night and day… but there is so much more packed within the pages of this book.

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We are taken around the world to visit many different countries experiencing the solstice and we are given an insight into not only how this day is different around the world, but also into the daily lives of each character. There is the opportunity to learn a little about jobs in that location, differences in the school day, pastimes, culture and festivals.

Such detail ensures that young readers can relate to the individuals they meet and enough information is available to satisfy even the most voracious consumer of new facts; however, this additional contextual detail also gives the title purpose beyond supporting subject topics. It would be an ideal title to use in PSHE discussions looking at differences in lifestyle, or a great book to dip into as a class reader in Drop Everything And Read time.

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Solstice also manages to cater for younger KS2 readers, or for older readers who find dense text a little overwhelming as each country we visit opens with a ‘highlights’ box. Here the reader can more easily navigate the essential details which help to bring the concepts covered to life: the temperature in each country, the hours of daylight, and the location on the world map. There is even the opportunity to try out a few words in the relevant language.

This subtle inclusivity is the other major strength of this title – it manages to be truly diverse and inclusive, without this ever being laboured. We learn about the differences in culture, language and daily life of lots of individuals as a meaningful backdrop to the purpose of the text.

Solstice: Around the world on the longest, shortest day by Jen Breach spread 4

Furthermore, this celebration of the countries visited is taken further by selecting an illustrator with a connection to each country. This enables discussion on different artistic approaches with children, as well as providing further opportunity to extend their contextual understanding of the countries covered as each illustrator is introduced and their connection explained.

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Our verdict:

Aimed at children aged 7+, Solstice would make an ideal KS2 non-fiction title for supporting Geography, Maths and PSHE units. Much more than this though, it is an essential leisure non-fiction title for its ability to quench the thirst of all hungry young fact-finders!

Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • Solstice would be superb support for KS2 geography topics exploring the equator, solstice, and life in different countries, or as support when pupils are learning about time zones around the world, or in PSHE discussions about the differences in our daily experiences.

Many thanks to What on Earth Books for the review copy.

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If you like Solstice: Around the World on the Longest, Shortest Day by Jen Breach you might also like: Storyworlds: A Moment in Time by Thomas Hegbrook, Climate Action by Georgina Stevens, 50 Maps of the World by Ben Handicott, Explorers by Nellie Huang and Life at Extremes: The Poles by Josy Bloggs.

Browse our  Year 5 reading list.

About Anna Rushall

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A passionate advocate for English, having taught all year groups across the primary phase and led English for much of the last twenty years, Anna is now using her lifelong enthusiasm for literature to support schools with their English provision on a consultancy basis. LinkedIn | Twitter/X | Reviews by Anna Rushall