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

Hello and welcome to this week’s look at the latest children’s news. The schools in my local area have already closed for the summer holidays or will be doing so in the next few days. Reading Matters will be taking a break for the summer too so this is the last issue for a little while, however this has been another busy week so there are many articles and news items still to share. I hope you find something in this week’s collection interesting, useful or simply enjoyable.

What I’m reading…


The 20 Books of Summer Challenge has encouraged me to focus on books that have appealed and yet have been neglected due to other reading commitments. Toffee by Sarah Crossan was most definitely worth the wait and my review gives a taste of what to expect if you would like to find out more. Another book, this time for a middle grade audience, that I was looking forward to reading was The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson and over the last few days I have enjoyed this one too. It is a charming, magical story with a fairy tale feel and lived up to expectations. I plan to post my review in the next few days.

News and resources…

‘The prize of all prizes’: Teacher Kate Clanchy’s memoir wins Orwell award– Kate Clanchy’s “moving and powerful” memoir about working as a teacher in the state education system, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, has won the Orwell prize for political writing.

What Would Bernardine Read? – the author of Girl, Woman, Other recommends her top twenty reads by black British womxn writers including Malorie Blackman, Catherine Johnson and Patrice Lawrence.

The Three Rs of Reading Aloud in Lockdown– A great article on the OURfPleasure website by Ben Harris, a Y6 teacher, who discusses the ways in which he ensured children continued to access quality Read-Alouds during lockdown. He explores some of the interesting effects of reading aloud on children’s emotional wellbeing, showing in particular how it supports the ‘Three Rs’, Reassurance, Recovery and Relaxation.

The Literacy Calendar 2020 – 2021 – this is a wonderful and extremely helpful resource created by Sadie Phillips. It includes a mixture of writing and reading competitions, events, days, weeks, festivals and shadowing schemes suitable for primary pupils. It is available to download in both PDF and Word formats. Great for planning for the next school year.

Love My Books is Five Years Old! – Lovemybooks was launched in 2015 with the aim to combine carefully chosen books with activities and resources designed to help parents and young children enjoy sharing books together. The website now contains over 220 activity pages used by families, schools and nurseries and Frank Cottrell Boyce has recently become a patron. There is lots to explore on their extensive website and you can sign up to their regular newsletter too.

Gender gap in children’s reading grew in UK lockdown – survey – “Greater access to audiobooks at school and home may help re-engage boys with literacy, the report from the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and Puffin says, as findings suggest these are more popular with boys.” An interesting article in the Guardian.

Biting off more nonsense than you can chew….with Mini Grey– a delightful and entertaining guest blog post by Mini Grey on the Picture Book Den. Mini describes illustrating the new collection of poems by A F Harrold due to be published in September. The book sounds and looks wonderful.

Reading is Magical Festival – Bath Children’s Literature Festival have joined forces with fellow festivals to create the Reading is Magic Festival this autumn! A free, inclusive and engaging digital book festival for schools and families.


The Little Rebels Award Shortlist – The shortlist has been announced for this award which celebrates children’s fiction which challenges stereotypes, promotes social justice and advocates for a more peaceful and fairer world. You can read more about the list and links to reviews in this Books for Keeps article.

Little Rebels Book Award Interview – this is a fascinating history of the award founded in 2012 which includes a look at previous winners.

Children’s Books That Help to Teach About Emotions – these stories selected by Caroline Bologna for Huffpost all help children understand and express feelings including anger and sadness.

Axel Scheffler shares unseen illustration work on the Picturebook Makers blog – I think this is a fascinating article and a wonderful insight into the creative process behind the production of picture books. It also includes a look at Axel’s sketchbooks and early observational drawings.

Tom Palmer: Family reading means everything to me– as part of #ReadingTogether day on Thursday author Tom Palmer wrote this personal and touching article about his own family reading experience. I think he is a wonderful ambassador for this new initiative.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson (story & art), Omar Mohamed (story), Iman Geddy (colour) – the power of graphic novels in building empathy is discussed in this blogpost by Melanie McGilloway as part of the blog tour to launch this new graphic novel.

Monsieur Roscoe On Holiday by Jim Field – another blog tour and another lovely review from Melanie. Alongside the review of a picture book that sounds delightful and great fun Jim Field also recommends his five favourite picture books in French. I’m so tempted to try and brush up my O Level French with these!

I Am Not A Label Written by Cerrie Burnell Illustrated by Lauren Mark Baldo – an empowering collection of biographies profiling over 30 disabled creators, thinkers, activists and athletes. Joy Court, in her review for LoveReading4Kids says “A comprehensive glossary and helpful discussion of language choices around disability and representation throughout add even more usefulness to this essential and attractive resource.”

The Great Godden by Meg Rossoff – this book keeps being mentioned online as a good read. Books for Keeps says that although “ostensibly a Young Adult novel there is much here for adult readers too.”  Perhaps we should all put it on our summer reading list?

Well, that’s it for the time being. Thank you for reading and a special thank you to those who get in touch to comment or share via Twitter and to everyone in the children’s book community who have supported each other and continued to create fabulous books and useful resources during the last few difficult months. There will continue to be book reviews and occasional articles posted on here and I hope to bring Reading Matters back too. Wishing you a happy, safe and restful summer.

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

  1. Thank you for providing this wonderful service Anne; it’s almost as if you can read my disordered mind each week – I had been wondering yesterday where I had discovered a literary calendar last year…and you have delivered it! I hope you have a thoroughly restful summer break 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      You’re very welcome Veronica. The calendar is brilliant isn’t it and extremely useful. It must take ages for Sadie to prepare.
      I hope you have a lovely summer and a chance to relax and recover from a stressful school year x

      Liked by 1 person

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