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

Welcome to this week’s look back at the latest news from the children’s books world. I am aware that teachers and school librarians are under a great deal of pressure at present and hope that some of the links collated here will, in a small way, provide some support. Reading at home is something that families can enjoy together so maybe some of the book suggestions and ideas will be useful for parents too.

If you are looking for a wider range of resources supporting reading you may find my earlier post Reading for Pleasure – Resources to Help Children Enjoy Books at Home helpful.

What I’m reading…


Since Shackleton’s Journey won the Kate Greenaway Award in 2015 Flying Eye Books have continued to publish wonderful illustrated non fiction and Ancient Games: A History of Sports and Gaming – Iris Volant and Avalon Nuovo is another to add to the list. This week I have been reading The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston and now halfway through I feel as though I have travelled in time. A lovely read.

News, resources and articles…

Reasons to be cheerful: poetry and stories to give hope to adults and children alike – Children’s author Katherine Rundell introduces original poems, stories and illustrations by the likes of Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Axel Scheffler brought together in a compilation dedicated to the doctors, nurses, carers and all those working in hospitals to protect us.

The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown – here is the link to the book created by Katherine Rundell and her fellow children’s authors and illustrators. Having dipped into this often during the week I can vouch for its hopefulness.

Branching Out: Resources to Support Reading For Pleasure – a brilliant idea from Alison at Books for Topics. Book recommendations for children who have been hooked in by a particular series or author and are ready to branch out. Free to view, download and share.

BBC Sounds The Dam with David Almond – I mentioned this in last week‘s Reading Matters but if you missed it the programme is available to download for some time. David Almond talking about the story behind The Dam, the stunning picture book he created with Levi Pinfold. An absolute treat of a listen.

The Big Book Weekend –  a 3-day virtual festival, taking place on, that brings together the best of the British book festivals cancelled due to coronavirus, featuring among others, Michael Morpurgo, Neil Gaiman, Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness.

100 Books (and counting!) to read before you leave secondary school – Lucas Maxwell, award winning librarian at Glenthorne School, has added to his remarkable list of books he has read and reviewed. There is a downloadable list, searchable by theme. All books are suitable for 11+ unless otherwise stated.

The whole world in a bedroom: seven of the most imaginative picture books for lockdown life – I should have included this article last week. A selection of picture books to encourage connection, curiosity and adventure in children when you’re stuck in isolation.

Lockdown Librarian: Ways to Connect to Your Patrons – practical advice from school librarian Lucas Maxwell in his helpful article

Fly With Tiny Owl – Check out read along and how-to videos from Tiny Owl Publishers’ fabulous authors and illustrators so that you can keep little ones entertained. Lots of teachers are among the many story read alouds featured and this is a lovely resource for parents and teachers.

Facebook Live Chat with author Tom Palmer Tuesday 5th May 10am – Tom Palmer will be talking about reading and writing on the Second World War, answering questions and doing his first ever reading from After the War, due out later this year.

The Branford Boase Award Shortlist AnnouncedSince 2000, the Branford Boase has been awarded annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. More great books to add to your reading list! 

Using Padlet to Support a Remote Book Talk Session – Mat Tobin, lecturer in Primary English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes University, has created an extremely helpful video in which he presents an overview of the ins and outs of Padlet and how he has used it to promote a booktalk session, remotely. Invaluable for those trying to put this in place for their pupils at the moment.

Herts Primary English: Weekly Primary English Digest – the second volume published this week includes teaching ideas, CPD, news and reviews. This week’s whole school book study resource focuses on Nothing by Mick Inkpen. The many varied ideas based on this much loved picture book could also be adapted for use at home.

School Library Association Webinar Training Sessions – the School Library Association is hosting webinars over the coming weeks on a variety of topics including Wellbeing and Reading and Engaging Reluctant Readers.

Publishing for the future: how children’s books have changed in 20 years – a fascinating article by children’s book expert, Julia Eccleshare, in The Bookseller, discussing trends in children’s fiction.

National Share a Story Month 2020 – celebrated each May the  theme for 2020, The Planet We Share, is very wide and can include anyone or anything we share this planet with. There are book lists, competition details and book related activities available on the website. 


The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski – Veronica Price ‘loved L.D. Lapinski’s world-building, protagonists and ability to combine an important message within a fast-paced contemporary fantasy for MG readers’. Read her review to find out more.

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson – I love this review by Ben Harris… ‘The book spoke to me as a teacher. I kept thinking as I read it – “I can’t wait to be back to school! I want to share this with my class! We will love this book together!” As a a school librarian I was always being asked ‘Where are the funny books?’ It definitely sounds as though Freddie Yates would be there!

The Vanishing Trick by Jenni Spangler, illustrated by Chris Mould – Jo Clarke says ‘I was drawn into this original and dark drama and devoured it in one afternoon.’ This debut has been receiving a lot of attention and I’m looking forward to reading it.

That’s all for this week. Happy reading!

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

  1. Thank you for once again collating a list of incredibly helpful resources 😊


    • alibrarylady says:

      You’re very welcome Veronica and thank you for commenting. I hope that there’s something there that will help you over the coming days and that you’re coping with the continuing challenge to provide a library online for pupils. Have a lovely weekend 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Anne. I will be making a lot of use of the Branching Out ideas through Google Classroom this week. Now for a weekend of intensive work on my final assignment for this year…oh the joys of cataloguing schemas and classification! Hope you have a lovely weekend 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. setinthepast says:

    Everyone recommends the Green Knowe books, but I somehow missed them when I was a kid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      I hadn’t read them either but as I’m reading this one it feels very familiar so I’m wondering if it was read aloud to me, maybe at school as we definitely didn’t have a copy at home. It’s a lovely story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Calmgrove says:

    I enjoyed the first Green Knowe book too, and have the River book for a future read, so I second the judgement you and many others have made on its magic quality! And I’m even now reading the Lapinski fantasy so thank you for the link to the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Green Knowe is a delightful story with echoes of Tom’s Midnight Garden, I think. Last month I read Charlotte Sometimes, another children’s book looking at the theme of links to the past and our sense of identity. They all belong to the same family of children’s fiction if that makes sense! They’re the type of book that I find comforting. I haven’t read the Lapinski yet but all the reviews are positive. I’m tempted!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Calmgrove says:

        Another time-travelling children’s novel I enjoyed (the title was a clue!) was Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time, which shared a little bit of the same atmosphere as the Boston and the Pearce. And then there’s Penelope Lively’s A Stitch in Time, a trio of books in which it’s possible for a child of the ‘present’ to visit the past of a specific place, usually a grand house based on a real building.

        And then I think of Diana Wynne Jones’s A Tale of Time City — except that she is more interesting in the time travelling, and the view of the past is less nostalgic, more — awry — that’s probably the word. Interesting. I should mull that about more.

        Liked by 1 person

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