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

Welcome to another look back at the latest children’s book news and a visit to some useful resources encouraging reading for pleasure. As I write this there is continued speculation regarding the timing of the reopening of schools across the country. No matter what form education takes over the coming weeks, whether at home, at school or in some combination of the two reading continues to be important as it nurtures, informs and entertains our children.  I hope that among the links I have shared here you will find something that helps you.

What I’m reading…


A lovely picture book was a highlight this week. Child of Galaxies by Blake Nuto and Charlotte Ager is a thoughtful introduction to philosophy for children and will inspire, encourage and reassure young readers with its poetic text and lovely illustrations. I also finished reading The Children of Green Knowe a wonderful story for now with its nostalgic yet curiously timeless appeal. It had, for me, echoes of Tom’s Midnight Garden with the old house taking a central role and the bond between a young boy and an elderly woman. I am also treating myself to the latest Anne Tyler, The Redhead at the Side of the Road. Yes, I do sometimes read adult fiction!

News and resources

Walker Books celebrates 40th anniversary by funding 40 School Library Association memberships – this popular children’s publisher is generously sponsoring 40 free memberships to the School Library Association for one year. Applications are open to UK schools who haven’t previously been a member, and SLA will aim to split them evenly between primary and secondary schools. Applications will be picked at random. The deadline for applications is 12th June 2020. I can vouch for the fact that SLA membership is extremely helpful for school librarians and teachers who want to make the most of their libraries.

Barrington Stoke Homeschooling Help for Lockdown – this is a brilliant free resource from Barrington Stoke full of helpful advice, information and links all presented in an extremely user friendly format.

Some of the best new children’s nature books to read this spring – From picture books about bats or microscopic species, to guides about climate change and celebrating environmentalists, there’s a wide range of amazing titles being published for children reviewed here.

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – A badminton-playing panda, a celebration of the avocado, a travel agency with gateways to other worlds and more are all reviewed by child book expert Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian.

This is Not My Hat: Free performance for children by The Little A Theatre – Watch Ian Nicholson, Samuel Wilde and Jim Whitcher’s puppet-filled adaptation of ‘This is Not My Hat’, Jon Klassen’s sequel to ‘I Want My Hat Back’. Just as good as the first one this is delightful.

The Loss: Picture Books About Loss – headteacher and picture book lover Simon Smith has compiled a beautiful selection of picture books which explore grief and loss and would be perfect for helping children understand and maybe talk about these emotions.

Reading Rocks at Home with Hachette Schools – Hachette publishers have teamed up with Reading Rocks to create a series of online lessons and activities to support home learning.

Books for Keeps – a reminder that this wonderful website has 13,500 different book related articles and reviews. All available to read now, for free!

Booklings Chat–  School librarian Lucas Maxwell and his pupils have interviewed a number of children’s and teen authors including those shortlisted for the YA Book Book Prize. Lots to listen to here.

dPictus 100 Outstanding PictureBooks – The 100 Outstanding Picturebooks showcase features the titles which have been highlighted by the most guest curators, and includes an eclectic mix of new-and-soon-to-be-released picturebooks, as well as classic backlist titles.

Make Your Own Story Dice – Coram Beanstalk and Nick Sharratt have created these lovely story dice templates to colour in, stick together and use for endless storytelling. This is a great way for adults and children to create and share stories. 

Empathy Day 9th June – there is a truly fabulous line up of authors and illustrators arranged for this special day. There will be brilliant online events and fun home-based activities to help children read, connect and act using empathy. The packs for schools and libraries are available now and family packs will be released on 18th May.

Hay Festival On Hay Player – the online schools programme features a veritable Who’s Who of children’s authors including Cressida Cowell, Onjali Raif, Patrice Lawrence and many more. Starts 18th May with treats all week.

On a Mission to Save BAME Books – article in The Voice about the #InclusiveIndies Fund launched for diversity-led indie publishers by Knights Of and Jacaranda Books.

Authorfy Writing Competition– Write a Laugh competition is an opportunity for children to win tons of prizes and to share some fun with friends and family and maybe even see their story in print. All entries must be in before 31st May.

Portable Magic Dispenser – this month’s  update from school librarian Lucas Maxwell with ideas suitable for both libraries and classrooms.

Some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

The Wonder of Trees by Nicola Davies and Lorna Scobie – this fabulous and comprehensive review by Nikki Gamble for Just Imagine has made me want to buy this nonfiction book for myself! In summary: “This is a super book for the classroom or library and would make a gorgeous gift for a child – or adult. There are lots of very good books about trees, but if you can only buy one, I suggest you consider this one.”

Burn by Patrick Ness – the award winning author for teens is “back to his barnstorming best with a novel set in an alternate Cold War era America” according to this great review by The Bookbag.

That’s all for this week. Happy reading!

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