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

Hello and welcome to another round up of the latest news from the world of children’s books. This week has been a whirlwind of book activity including Empathy Day when we celebrated the profound effect that quality children’s literature can have on behaviour and attitudes. We also had the opportunity to enjoy a variety of excellent online events sharing both book knowledge and enthusiasm for stories.

What I’m reading…


Sometimes I am asked why I still read children’s books. There is a long answer but a shorter version might be, because I can still learn so much from them. Can You See Me?  by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott is a powerful and insightful read which is an excellent example of why children’s books are not only for children. The sequel, Do You Know Me? is now definitely on my wish list.

Can You See Me? features in this year’s Empathy Collection and is no doubt a book that is stocked in many school libraries. I wrote about  School Libraries – empathy factories for their communities this week as it is an aspect of school librarianship which is important to me and, I know, to many school librarians.

News and resources…

Exploring Pictures in Picturebooks – on Thursday evening a great many of us enjoyed a fascinating webinar generously provided by Mat Tobin, Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. One hour full of knowledge and understanding sped by. If you were unable to make it Mat has kindly shared a video of the event (available through the link on the title)  and a comprehensive linked blogpost which could be used as the basis for a workshop or as a useful reference. You may also be interested in Mat’s wonderful Padlet of quality picturebooks for cross-curricular use in the classroom. Thank you Mat for your generosity in sharing this, it was a highlight of the week for many.

Seeing yourself as part of someone else’s story will bring justice to the world –  this reflective, gentle article by Wakanyi Hoffman is well worth a read. As she so rightly says…”One of the ways to discuss hard topics is through storytelling”

Young Wild Writer Competition for Hen Harrier Day 2020 – this blog by Gill Lewis provides details of a competition to get creative and celebrate British wildlife and Hen Harrier Day 2020. A chance to share wild words about the wild world in this competition for three different age groups from 5 – 16. Closing date 24th July.


Putting stories back in the curriculum –  a thoughtful, encouraging post by Xris Curtis on the importance of stories and reading enjoyment in the secondary school classroom.

Illustrating Great Art, Music and Children’s Stories – Leslie Tate, author and poet, interviews James Mayhew about his art, his collaborations with other authors and illustrators and his work with musicians and orchestras. A lovely insight.

#PassTheBookplate – a bookselling boost on shifting ground – A new plan to support independent bookshops, from author S F Said and Autumn Rosewall of Kenilworth Books and a call for authors and publishers to get involved.

45 Books to help children understand that black lives matter – Alison from Books for Topics has compiled a list including biographies, non-fiction, books that open conversations about racism and books that represent BAME characters.

Empathy Day Catch up with events – there were some fabulous interviews, talks and activities taking place live during the day on Tuesday. If you missed out you can still catch up by watching the videos now available on the official website. These would be brilliant to share in schools. I found the Empathy Discussion in the evening extremely hopeful.

Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell announce new ‘piratical adventure’ – this is exciting news! Pirate Stew will reunite the novelist and the illustrator in a rhyming tale for children due out this autumn.

‘Reading: whole class or small groups?’: The problem with the question. — Just Imagine – if you missed the recent webinar organised by Just Imagine this excellent write up providing details of research, current practice and informed discussion is an extremely interesting read.

CILIP Carnegie and Kate-Greenaway Twitter Takeover – To celebrate the 2020 shortlists of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the organisers will be holding a Twitter Takeover on Sunday 14 June. This will be an opportunity to engage and interact with judges and key personnel of the awards and to hear more from the shortlisted authors and illustrators. The full programme is available via the link and looks fabulous.


Diverse Voices – children’s books that celebrate difference – this is an excellent resource from LoveReading4Kids. They have created this Celebrating Diversity feature to highlight books that they have read and loved over the years, consolidating them into one easy to browse location. They will continuously update this category as they read and review new, relevant publications.

School Libraries Should Not Be Taken for Granted – an article from this month’s OURfP newsletter. This summary of recent research highlights the positive impact of library access on young people’s RfP and is written by Margaret Merga, an Australian researcher, whose own work explores libraries and students’ reading engagement.

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival 2020 At Home – if you were unable to join the events this week it is possible to watch the videos via the website. I particularly enjoyed Katie Webber’s interview with Kiran Millwood Hargrave and am looking forward to the Chris Riddell event this afternoon.

James Mayhew, Alex Redington & Siu Chui Li: performances of music, stories, & live art for children – a fantastic new venture on Patreon. Music, stories & art come together in exclusive films for children. Perfect for families, homeschool hub, teachers and educators. There are three levels from single household to schools with a range of resources available. This launches on 15th June and promises to be rather special.

Finally some reviews that caught my eye this week…

6F9E8FEF-2C4B-4A75-B2E0-F1EFFBA4BB3FMy Nana’s Garden by Dawn Casey and Jessica Courtney-Tickle – ‘one of the most beautiful picture books about love and loss I’ve seen in a long time.’ says Jill Bennett in her enchanting review of a book published this week by Templar Books.

Dragon Detective: School’s Out by Gareth P Jones illustrations by Scott Brown – Mary Rees describes this second adventure starring Dirk and Holly as a ‘fun-filled, magical, action-packed adventure with a perfect sprinkling of danger’ It sounds perfect for primary school libraries and classrooms.

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty – this much anticipated memoir is described by the Guardian as ‘a book that succeeds in describing the deep and complex pleasure of immersion in nature’.

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein – featuring among the books of the month on the LoveReading4Kids website this ‘Cracking WWII story in which a young Jamaican Briton’s ingenuity makes remarkable impact’ sounds great.

That’s it for this week. A great many people to thank for their generosity in creating resources, courses, stories and art for us all to share and enjoy. It does, I think, make a difference and lift our spirits. I hope you have found something of interest among this week’s links. Happy reading…

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

  1. I’m a bit late reading your post today, but as always it is full of useful information. Thank you so much for continuing to provide this invaluable service Anne 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachael says:

    I really want to catch up on exploring pictures in picture books, I missed it but it looked great.
    Hoping to catch some of the CILIP takeover tomorrow too.
    Thanks for another brilliant round up, these really are such excellent, comprehensive posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Mat’s webinar was brilliant it’s definitely worth a watch and his blogpost is a useful reference too. I’ve saved it to refer back to in future. His knowledge and in depth analysis is very interesting. I’m so glad you find these weekly roundups helpful. Thank you Rachael.

      Liked by 1 person

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