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

Hello and welcome to this week’s look back at the latest children’s book news. This is attempt number two so I have everything crossed that someone somewhere is able to read this! Sometimes there are occasions when I wish that I could escape to the imaginary worlds I read about and this has been one of those weeks. If you fancy escaping too I do hope that you find an article or book  here that helps you do just that.

What I’ve been reading…


This week I read Cloud Boy by Marcia Williams a very different story to those with which I usually associate this award winning author. You may well be familiar with her popular comic format books such as Bravo Mr William Shakespeare and Hooray for Women or her wonderful journal style story My War Diary by Flossie Albright. This is her first novel for a middle grade audience and it is a story of friendship, loyalty, loss and courage told by a believable main character. It’s accessible but its innocent narration deals with deep emotions. I will try and post a review in the coming days.

Two wonderful picture books landed on my doormat this week. Bloom by Anne Booth and Robyn Wilson-Owen and Perdu by Richard Jones. I loved them both and you can find out why here.

News and resources…

Not reopening but blooming: picturebooks for new beginnings – this is a beautiful and reassuring blog post by Martin Galway, of Herts for Learning Primary English, about picture books full of hope. If you only have time to read one item I share this week please make it this one.

From Harry Potter at Home to the National Shelf Service: bookish fun for the lockdown – An updating list of online treats for bibliophiles of all ages, including Hogwarts quizzes, Simon Armitage and a star-packed reading of James and the Giant Peach.

J.K. Rowling Introduces The Ickabog – speaking of Harry Potter…here is his creator’s latest offering for children. The Ickabog was written as a read-aloud book but it’s suitable for 7-9 year olds to read to themselves. J K Rowling is posting a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between 26th May and 10th July on the website and asking children to provide illustrations of the characters to be share on social media. 

Mrs Noah’s Garden: An interview with James Mayhew – this beautiful sequel to Mrs Noah’s Pockets was published by Otter-BarryBooks on 21st May. Illustrator James Mayhew discusses working with author Jackie Morris on this book, their latest joint venture, on the Reading Realm website.


Choose Bookshops! The Lockdown KidsLit Band – independent bookshops are in a precarious situation due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Children author Gareth P Jones wanted to find a way to get the message out so he put a call out for other children’s authors to contribute to a song to promote the #ChooseBookshops campaign. Have a lovely day! 

We Found a Hat | Free Performance for Children – Watch Ian Nicholson, Samuel Wilde and Jim Whitcher’s puppet-filled adaptation of ‘We Found a Hat’, the final instalment in Jon Klassen’s ‘Hat’ series by The Little A Theatre. This is an absolute treat.

Minerva Reads: Storytelling Specifically – an interesting blogpost by Clare Zinkin about the power of storytelling to give truth to the world outside.

Five ways to give children access to stories and reading material during lockdown – to support reading at home Alison Leach of Books for Topics has put together a list of the best places to access free children’s reading materials, from phonic readers and online comics to read-alongs and full length chapter books.

P is for Pandemic: kids’ books about coronavirus – article in The Conversation providing information about books which explore practical ways young children can avoid infection and transmission, and provide strategies parents can use to help children cope with anxiety. 

‘Time and time again’: Tom’s Midnight Garden and the Temporality of Lockdown – I was going to write about the experience of rereading time slip children’s novels during the lockdown and how affecting and reassuring I found the experience. Stella Pryce has written about it so beautifully I suggest you read this instead. Just like the books I think I’m going to have to keep rereading this too.

Top 100 Recommended Reads for Year 1 – Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher, has been busy again! This time he has updated his suggested book list for Year 1. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books, chapter books, classics & newly published titles too. Complete with printable display posters & checklists to use in the classroom.

Further Fabulous First Chapter Books – Jo Cummins has provided a selection of wonderful books for readers who are looking for some that’s still highly-illustrated and engaging, but also a little wordier.

Where the World Turns Wild: Lockdown Reading for Anxious Children – this is a thoughtful article by Imogen Russell Williams discussing books ranging from classics to newly published titles that will console and encourage young readers.

40 Picture Books to Share with children who are returning to school this June – another helpful resource from Alison at Books for Topics, she has created lists of suggestions grouped into themes of worry, resilience, bereavement, happiness, following rules, fear, hope etc.


Letters from Lockdown – The Children’s Book Show has had to postpone their annual  programme of theatre performances and in-school workshops. Instead they have invited artists to write a short letter to be shared with classes online or via social media, to inspire them to write their own lockdown letter. These are lovely; beautiful to look at and to read.

YA Book Prize 2020 – Congratulations to the winner of the YA Book Prize 2020 ⁠— Meat Market by Juno Dawson. Find out more about Meat Market and the rest of the books on the 2020 shortlist and read free extracts of all of them and check out the Q&As with all of the shortlisted authors.

Prestigious national appointment for Professor Teresa Cremin– huge congratulations to TeresaCremin on being appointed Reading Expert for the English Hubs Council. Her role will be to help inform their programmes to improve the teaching of language and literacy to young children in England.  

Empathy Shorts – Empathy Day takes place on 9th June and Empathy Lab have ensured that children will have access to an empathy boosting story on the day by asking eight leading authors to write eight brand new stories. These include Jo Cotterill, Bali Rai and Gill Lewis.

A Monster Calls – Bristol Old Vic have teamed up with The Old Vic to bring A Monster Calls to the comfort of your own home. Adapted from the critically acclaimed bestseller by Patrick Ness, and directed by Sally Cookson (Peter Pan, La Strada), this Olivier Award-winning production of A Monster Calls offers a dazzling insight into love, life and healing.  It will be streamed live on Friday 5th June at 7pm and will be available for one week afterwards. Thank you to Mat Tobin for making me aware of this or I would have missed this exciting news.

Klaus Flugge: Pam Smy on finding an original voice in illustration – this guest post for Just Imagine  by Pam Smy lecturer with the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University provides an insight into the world of illustration and the pressures that may be experienced by illustrators.

Finally some book reviews that caught my eye this week...

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray – this review by Sam Creighton for Just Imagine has persuaded me that this is another that needs to go on my shopping list. In summary he says’  “the book, which perfectly sets up an already promised sequel, is a powerful mix of excitement and substance and deserves to be a staple text on every UKS2 bookshelf.”

Young Fiction Reads – a fabulous selection of  Jo Clarke’s favourite recent releases all guaranteed to enthral and entertain children. A mix of witches, monsters, vampires, zombies, dragons and ghouls so something for every possible taste.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – ‘An addictive, clever YA crime thriller with a loveable female protagonist. Full of shocking twists and turns and set against the backdrop of modern teenage life.’ says Olivia Mitchell in her excellent review for The Bookbag.

Well that’s all for this week. I think! Rather a lot of reading matter but I do hope that there is something here that appeals to you. I hope you have a lovely weekend and happy reading.


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

  1. setinthepast says:

    It’s working fine for me! And, if I remember rightly, Tom of Midnight Garden fame is in quarantine for measles – there are so many children’s books where kids are in quarantine for measles, German measles, scarlet fever, mumps, chicken pox, etc, reminding us that it used to be a pretty common occurrence. OK, Enid Blyton, Lorna Hill, Arthur Ransome etc use quarantine as a plot device to give their characters extra-long summer holidays, but still!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So many links to such wonderful information and books, Anne! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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