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

Hello and welcome to another look at this week’s children’s book news. When I made my New Year resolution to try and share positive stories and good news about children’s literature on a regular basis I wasn’t at all confident that I would be successful in maintaining this. If I had known what the year was going to bring for us all perhaps I would not have attempted it. However here we are more than halfway through the year still plodding on together and I am enjoying making new friends in the book community and discovering which items people enjoy and why.

“There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.” Irving Stone,

I hope you find something in this week’s collection interesting, useful or simply enjoyable.

What I’m reading…


As we reached the mid way point of the year I was thinking back over the books I had read since January and was struck by the commonality of the themes of many of the children’s picture books that I enjoyed. I shared these special titles in Celebrating Picture Books – my favourites of 2020 so far and I hope you find my selection interesting.

This week the winners of the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition were announced and the range and quality of the stories written by the young authors is impressive. I plan to read more of them this weekend. You can find out more in my blogpost here. 

I finally finished reading The Shadow of the Wind, a book I savoured slowly. When I have collected my thoughts I hope to share them as part of the 20 Books of Summer 2020 Challenge.

News and resources…

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – “Warm, consoling, funny and sad” Another beautiful selection from Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian. Always my favourite recommendations.

Book Trust Care Packages – Lockdown has been very challenging for families and has limited many children’s access to education. To help all children have access to books and the life-changing benefits that reading brings, BookTrust has created a range of care packages which are being given out in local communities. Find out how we can help via the link.

Children’s Literature Festivals My Lockdown Poem Competition – This charity are encouraging children & young people (7-16) to pen a poem in any style about their life in lockdown. Closes 30 August, teachers are being asked to join in too and there is the chance to win book tokens and an author visit. 

More Picture Books for Year 6 List 2 from Simon Smith – Simon Smith , head teacher and avid picture book lover, always finds books that I have missed and I love his choices. This is a wonderful list that I think would be equally appropriate for lower secondary age.


Creative Secrets: Piers Torday – interview in Words and Pictures, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ online magazine. In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon invites established writers and illustrator to tell us about their creative space. This month features Piers Torday and is an interesting read.

The British Book Awards (NIBBIES) – the winners of these awards were announced this week. It was lovely to see David McKee honoured as Illustrator of the Year. You can see the winners and shortlists for the different book awards in the link above and the winners of the trade awards here. Congratulations to Usborne who were named Children’s Publisher of the Year.

Author and illustrator Alex T. Smith National Literacy Trust Author of the Week – learn how to draw Claude the dog with Alex and lots of great downloadable activities linked to his books on the Literacy Trust Family Zone.

Will Mabbit on Virtual Author Visits – Will Mabbitt is the author of multiple children’s books including The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones, This is NOT a Fairy Tale and I Can Only Draw Worms. This week he was a guest on the YLG blog to discuss virtual author visits.

Bounce Back 2 – supporting children returning to school – this is an extremely useful article on the Just Imagine blog suggesting books on different themes such as friendship and kindness, community and ‘real-life heroes’ and cherishing our world that may be helpful for the next academic year.

The Unwinding: Drawing to a Close with Jackie Morris – this is a simply beautiful video, soothing to watch and listen to and also fascinating. It’s just under 15 minutes long and is most definitely worth finding time for. The accompanying blogpost is lovely too.

Critical Thinking and Book Talk: An approach to developing critical thinking abilities in the early years by Dr Mary Roche – an excellent article in The Sector by the author of Developing children’s critical thinking through picturebooks’ (Routledge 2015), examining research and providing classroom examples.


How I Met My Agent: Tom Huddleston & Ella Diamond Kahn – live online interview series, brought to you by Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency. This episode on Tuesday July 7th at 6.45 sees Tom Huddleston, author of  Flood World and Dust Road, discussing every aspect of the book business, from creative stuff to finding an agent / publisher to marketing and everything in between!

Inis The Children’s Books Ireland Magazine – For the first time ever, Inis is published in digital-only format in response to the Covid19 situation. This is a fabulous read! Lots of reviews, an interview with David Wiesner, an article looking back at Sarah Crossan’s laureateship and more.

Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell launches creative summer camp with all star line-up – Cressida’s Creativity Summer Camp will inspire families to embrace books, reading and creativity at home over the summer holidays for entertainment, learning, as well as to support mental well-being. A week full of brilliant ideas and fun from top authors and illustrators starting on Monday 6th July.

UKLA Book Awards 2020 Winners Announcements 3 July 2020 – In this video the UKLA Book Awards team and teacher judges announce the winners of the 2020 Awards for the 4 categories 3-6, 7-10+, 11-14+ and Information Books 3-14+. I enjoyed the introduction by Daniel Hahn very much. Winners include, in the 3-6 category, Mixed written and illustrated by Arree Chungwho has generously created a free and rather wonderful Mixed Book and activities PDF to help with discussion with young children about diversity and love.

Finally some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

Invisible Nature: A Secret World Beyond Our Senses Author Catherine Barr Illustrator Anne Wilson – a nonfiction book about the invisible wonders of our world  including  microwaves, ultraviolet light, infrared light, electromagnetism, ultrasound. Described by Book Trust as  ‘an accessible, educational and fun picture book for junior readers’ this sounds great for primary school classrooms and libraries.

Peeking At Picture Books – a great selection of picture books are included in this blogpost from Samantha Thomas including Together by Jane Chapman which looks gorgeous.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker – another fabulous review for Just Imagine by teacher Sam Creighton. “I’m not sure a book can save the world but, if any book can save a kid from feeling lonely or odd or left out, it’s this one.” This book is on my shelves at the moment but it’s not staying there for long now.

That’s all for this week, another bumper week of book news. I hope that something appeals among this week’s links. Have a lovely weekend and happy reading.


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