Reading Matters – news from the world of children’s books

Hello and welcome to another news update where we look back at the week in books for children and young people. This is a collection of links to articles and websites that I hope will be helpful to librarians, teachers and parents.

What I’m reading…


My introduction to the award winning author, Jan Mark continues and I am enjoying my daily dip into The One That Got Away collection of short stories. Unfortunately I have not been able to join in with the #JanMARKuary discussion on Twitter but catching up with it later is teaching me a great deal about this respected author and her writing. I also have a copy of her Carnegie Award winning book, Thunder and Lightnings, ready for #ClassicChildrensBooksClub with author Christopher Edge on Sunday 2nd February.

In my role as a StoryStarter with the Beanstalk charity I am working with a new group of children this term. My three little charges have enjoyed You Choose by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodheart, a book that I find a great tool for prompting discussion and getting to know each child a little better. This week we moved onto There’s a Shark in the Park also by Nick Sharratt. Time for lots of excited shouting and exploration with pretend telescopes!

This week I have reviewed two debuts, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook and Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan both of which I enjoyed very much. I also wrote about my reaction to the new adaptation of Little Women.

News and views from the world of children’s books…

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – Hamish Hamilton will publish The Lost Spells, a new collaboration from Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, the bestselling duo behind The Lost Words, on 1st October 2020. This will be a pocket sized hardback containing a new set of natural poems and illustrations.

Brian Wildsmith Website – a new website was launched on 22nd January to coincide with what would have been this celebrated illustrator’s 90th birthday. It contains beautiful examples of his artwork and links to his many books. Do have a browse, it is lovely.

World Book Day Share a Million Stories – this year the organisers of World Book Day are on a mission to get the nation to Share A Million Stories. At home or at school, in bookshops and libraries, every story you share will count & could win you £1000 of books during the period from 27th February to 29th March. You can register now via the link above.

Read for Empathy Collections – Empathy Lab UK launched two collections of books one suitable for primary and one for secondary. The books have been specially selected by an expert panel to build empathy in children and young people. Each collection has its own Read for Empathy Guide with a synopsis of all of the books, top tips for sharing stories and more information about Empathy Day, 9 June 2020.

Q & A with Miranda McKearney Founder of Empathy Lab– Alison at Books for Topics interviews the founder of Empathy Lab to find out more about this year’s collections and the background to Empathy Day.

Booktrust’s Pyjamarama Returns – Pyjamarama is all about getting children reading. Booktrust is asking children around the country – in schools, nurseries, clubs and at home – to spend a fun-filled day in PJs and donate £1 to help give every child a bedtime story. The day takes place on Friday 5th June and there are free resources, tips and ideas available on the website ready for you to prepare.

Puffin 80th Birthday Celebrations – The publisher will mark 80 years since being founded by Allen Lane this year. In May, Puffin will publish The Puffin Book of Big Dreams, a collection of over 40 new stories. As well as Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson, contributors include Tom Fletcher, Humza Arshad, Julia Donaldson, Nick Sharratt and Helen Oxenbury among others.

The Schools’ Hub from Chicken House Publishers – This looks brilliant! Educational resources that work with Chicken House books and align with the Key Stage 2 and 3 curriculums. Content created by teachers and librarians that have a passion for reading, PDF downloads of chapter-by-chapter guides, schemes of work, videos and useful links to external resources are here to help with class or book club planning.

Great School Libraries Case Studies – School librarians create readers. However they do much more besides. Have a look at these case studies and get inspiration for everything from well-being to spotting fake news.

Finally some book reviews that have caught my eye this week …

Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It by Susie Day – ‘a warm and hopeful read which I’d absolutely recommend to anyone who loves reading wonderful children’s novels with bags of heart.’ says Jim, @Yayeahyeah in his review. Jim is one of my ‘go to’ reviewers and is so knowledgeable about children’s, teen and YA fiction that I have put this on my to read list straight away.

Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold – this debut due to be published next month is reviewed by children’s writer, K M Lockwood: ‘There are moments of loveliness to remind the reader what we truly care about – special moments with families and friends, and in the natural world.’ I’m looking forward to reading this and you can find out more during the blog tour next week:


I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End by Emma Perry and Sharon Davey – ‘a wonderful book to encourage a love and a curiosity about books and I thoroughly recommend it to parents, educators, librarians’ says Lily Fae @faeryartemis in her lovely review of this picture book due out next month. This sound perfect.

That’s all for this week. I hope you have found something here of interest. Happy reading!

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9 Responses to Reading Matters – news from the world of children’s books

  1. Thank you again for an amazing time saving resource. The Great School Libraries link is very much appreciated as I try to improve my little school library and I shall be passing the Chicken House link to my teaching colleagues 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. setinthepast says:

    Where would we be without Puffin books 🙂 ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lilyfae says:

    Thank you so much for featuring my review of I don’t like books. Never. Ever . The end!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachael says:

    Oh my goodness, what a useful post! Thank you so much for putting all this together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      I’m so glad you think it’s useful. It’s my new year’s resolution to try and post a weekly update, fingers crossed that I can maintain it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachael says:

        Well I for one will be looking out for them, (I mean that in an encouraging way, not to put the pressure on!) this was great and I can’t wait to tell Peapod’s nursery about the PJ day for booktrust! Hoping to organise something in work too if poss…!

        Liked by 1 person

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