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

Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of the latest children’s book news.  The end of the summer term is rapidly approaching and for some the holidays have already started. It has been a school year like no other we have known and yet throughout it the children’s book community has rallied to support each other and continues to do so. This week I have tried to find the most positive and reassuring items to share.

What I’m reading…


My progress through my 20 Books of Summer 20 Challenge continues, albeit slowly. This week I wrote a little about my third book, the bestselling The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. a story I savoured and immersed myself in over several days. I have also finished Toffee by Sarah Crossan. This may be a quicker read but one that personally I found more emotionally affecting. Thoughtful, perceptive, heartbreaking yet still a striking portrayal of resilience and love in difficult circumstances.  My review will follow soon.

News and resources…

Storm Hound scoops 2020 Tir na n-Og Award – Author Claire Fayers has won the 2020 Tir na n-Og English-language award for her fantasy adventure story, steeped in Norse legend and Welsh mythology. Storm Hound was one of four books with an authentic Welsh background shortlisted for the prestigious award for children’s and young people’s literature, which is organised annually by the Books Council of Wales.

“By saving the whale, we might save ourselves.”– Chris Vick, author of Carnegie shortlisted Girl. Boy. Sea., talks on the Book Trust website about writing, working in marine conservation, and how the ocean inspires incredible stories.

Selection of book lists compiled by former School Librarian of the a Year, Lucas Maxwell – a fabulous and useful range here including: Great Reads for Sixth Form, Great Quick Reads, Great Scary Stories and (rather topical this week) Great Reads for Fans of David Walliams. Thank you Lucas for sharing these.

TENConline Live Launch – Bennie Kara – Bennie’s closing keynote speech from last weekend’s event powerfully draws on her own experiences as a teacher and pupil. She challenges us all to create curriculums which are diverse and inclusive. This, I think, is equally important for school librarians highlighting why school library collections should meet the needs of all their users.  

Children’s books celebrating diversity and inclusion: tips and recommendations
– Moon Lane Books have written a feature for the South Bank Centre blog discussing the importance of representation and diversity in children’s books.


The History of a Word – What’s in a word? For author and linguist Patrick Skipworth, the hidden histories in our everyday conversation inspired him to write a book, Literally: amazing words and where they come from,  all about the many weird and wonderful languages we use. This sounds like a fascinating book and useful for both classrooms and libraries.

Konnie Huq Libraries! – this week in the series of regular videos from Konnie Huq she featured a brief history of libraries and a reading from Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell. This would be good to share with children at home or school.

Reading Together Day Announced For 16 July 2020 – this sounds wonderful.  Over 15 organisations collaborating to highlight the importance of reading together. Families will be invited to take part in a celebration of reading together on 16 July. There will be a shared schedule of events throughout the day featuring collaborators across books, publishing and education sectors. One of the events is a great webinar for parents. Panellists, including  Teresa Cremin and Joseph Coelho, will share top tips to support and encourage reading at home. You can register here 

Books for Topics Summer Reading Bingo – this is a great summer holiday activity for children and parents too. The focus is on reading for pleasure experiences rather than specific texts, with activities like make a den and read inside, read in the dark using a torch and read to a pet or a soft toy. Children can choose what they read for the challenges, although Alison at Books for Topics has included some Summer 2020 recommended reads for those looking for new ideas.


Children’s Literature Summer CPD– Sadie Phillips (Literacy with Miss P) has put together a wonderful list of courses, discussions and examples of good practice available for teachers. This would, I think, be equally suitable for school librarians. In fact I’m already enrolled on a couple!

A Mighty Girl’s Summer 2020 Reading List – A Mighty Girl’s new special feature, the girl-empowering summer reading list, showcases a diverse selection of both long-time favorites and new releases starring girls and women for readers of all ages, infants through to adults.

Cressida’s Creativity Summer Camp – all week Book Trust have been hosting an array of wonderful talks, writing workshops and art master classes. If you missed them they are still available to watch via the link above. There are lots of creative ideas to share.

Children’s books provide the perfect escape from coronovirus – Piers Torday chooses his favourite authors, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Sue Townsend in this article for the Spectator.

Philip Pullman to release unseen His Dark Materials novella in October – Written in 2004 and auctioned for charity, Serpentine sees an adult Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon revisit Trollesund in search of secrets.


Books for Keeps Bumper Summer Issue – I had a quick glance through this yesterday and intended to select a couple of items to highlight. I couldn’t. It’s all great, the range of articles and interviews ensures that there is something here for all interests and lots of great reviews too. This magazine is top of my weekend reading list. Books for Keeps are also asking for support to enable them to develop the website and preserve their valuable archives. There are details in the editorial if you would like to help.

National Poetry Day 40 Fabulous Poetry Books – a range of fabulous new & forthcoming poetry books to enjoy, discover, share. Great range & diversity, for all ages, especially for the young (& young at heart)

CLPE announce new partnership for this year’s CLiPPA – last but not least, more wonderful poetry news hot off the press. On 10th July CLPE announced that they have partnered with The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival to celebrate this year’s CLiPPA (CLPE’s Poetry Award). CLiPPA will feature in the Festival’s programme for schools and families, and the winner will be announced in a very special Festival Poetry Show on Friday 9th October 2020.



Finally some reviews that caught my eye this week…

Lena, The Sea and Me: Author Maria Parr, Guy Puzey (Translator) – this is a lovely review by Roy James for Just Imagine. “Appealing to both boys and girls, Lena, the Sea and Me shows just how much growing up happens in the final year of primary school” This sounds like a great transition read.

Irresistible Illustrated Fiction – School Librarian and book blogger Jo Clarke has reviewed a selection of books which are perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Perfect for primary school libraries and classrooms.

The Rules by Tracy Darnton – a new thriller from Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-Shortlisted Tracy Darnton and this interesting review by Ann on Cafe Society has intrigued me for she says it reminds her “that the best of YA literature deals with complex and important issues.” It is now on my ‘to be read list’.

Well there we are, another round up completed and it is a rather jam packed edition, so perhaps there is something included there that you will find helpful. If you have already started your summer holidays I hope you have a relaxing and restoring break and if you still have a little while to go I wish you good luck over the final few days. Happy reading!

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

  1. Jules_Writes says:

    Great post, and so much I didn’t know! I love the idea of a history of the word – something I will look out for. And summer bingo is a great idea, our school sent a version of this but I think the one you’ve posted is better.

    That’s us on holidays now, enjoy yours whenever they start! Hopefully, we gets lots of sunshine 🌞🌞


  2. alibrarylady says:

    Thank you. The summer bingo is brilliant isn’t it. I particularly like the way it concentrates on activities rather than number of books read as that will broaden the appeal. Allison at Books for Topics has done a great job. Children who may not usually read a lot might be tempted by it.
    The sun is shining here, hope it is for you too!


  3. Thank you so much Anne, your posts have been a life-saver for me this term as I haven’t had the time to keep up with everything myself. One more week to go and then I will just be hosting a summer holiday book club on my Google Classroom, I’m just about to add the Konnie Huq video that you’ve highlighted to my activities on there. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thank you Veronica, I’m so pleased it has helped you. It sounds like you have provided a great service for your pupils despite the circumstances. The summer holiday book club is a lovely, thoughtful idea. Hope your last week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the link, Anne and for all the wonderful information that you’ve compiled here. It’s going to keep me busy all day just checking everything out!

    Liked by 1 person

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