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

Hello and welcome to another look at the latest news from the world of children’s books. It’s been another busy week and no doubt I have missed out some delights but I have tried to give an overview of what’s been happening. Yet again I am struck by the generosity of so many providing resources and giving up their time to share ideas and comment. Webinars, podcasts, articles and interviews proliferate at such a rate it is hard to keep up but I very much appreciate all the wonderful work being done by book lovers everywhere.

What I’m reading…

The highlight this week for me was the Reading for Pleasure: The Nectar of Imagination webinar I attended on Tuesday evening, featuring Teresa Cremin, Joseph Coelho, Sonia Thompson and Matthew Courtney chaired by Hayley Butler from The Reading Agency. The description inspirational does not really do the event justice. A key point I took away was that reading for pleasure for children should not be an optional extra but is our social and moral joint responsibility. If you were unable to attend you may watch the recording of the event via these links, Part One and Part Two. I would highly recommend it.

Last weekend I finished reading Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, her debut and Newbery Medal winner in 2011. A story of relevance today with its dual storyline including the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the creating of community as immigrants from all over the world come together in a shared goal.

I read some wonderful picture books this week, we are being thoroughly spoiled at the moment. The Little War Cat is a beautiful book, a celebration of kindness and hope in the midst of conflict and would be suitable for KS1 upwards. There are more reviews to follow over the next few days.

News and resources…

Reading is Magic Festival – a reminder that this festival starts on Sunday 27th September. Featuring an amazing line up of bestselling authors & illustrators, there are six days of FREE digital events designed especially for schools takes place 27 Sep to 2 Oct. You can find out more and sign up at the link above and there is a list of all the fabulous events here. Events can be watched on the website after the live broadcasts too.

Two books about children fleeing the Spanish Civil War – if you have been following the articles related to World Kid Lit Month you may have seen this but if not it is a welcome exposure of books dealing with historical events that may well be less well known to children in the U.K.

Free National Poetry Day Posters – free posters for National Poetry Day featuring lots of children’s poets considering the question ‘What is poetry?’ available to download on the Reading Realm website. This site is well worth a browse as it contains helpful tips and ideas including poetry starters available here.

Bloomsbury Children’s Poetry Showcase – Join Bloomsbury Education for a special online focus on poetry, with activities, challenges and videos from fantastic poets including AF Harrold, Joshua Seigal, Sarah Crossan and Paul Cookson each day, from 28th September – 2nd October 2020, at 11am and 2pm. 

The Promise – a Go Fund Me initiative – a crowd-funder to give copies of The Promise book by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin to children growing up in nature deprived areas. The organisers will be working with Wild Labs to collaborate with schools and organisations to explore how they can make their communities greener and fairer.  

The life of an illustrator: Jim Field – lovely interview with the illustrator of Oi Frog, The Squirrels Who Squabbled and other favourites giving an insight into the inspiration and challenges of life creating the books we love so much.

Author Sam McBratney dies aged 77 – probably best known for his best seller, Guess How Much I Love You illustrated by Anita Jeram, beloved of many little ones at bedtime, this is a lovely tribute in the Guardian.

Reader to Reader: Sharing Book Recommendations Builds Community by Donalyn Miller – this is a thoughtful article supporting the view that school librarians and teachers with knowledge of both books and their pupils create readers when stock booklists may not.

Pie Corbett: the magic of storytelling in school – I enjoyed this article about why stories, reading aloud and books matter so much to education very much. An inspiring read.

Where Does the River Run Gold for Children’s Rights by Sita Brahmachari – in this guest blog on the Pop-Up Projects website Sita Brahmachari reflects on how children’s rights have informed, inspired and driven her work.

My Library, My Books and Me: Libraries Week Launch Event – I could not resist this and have registered, it sounds great! Annie Everall OBE, Director Authors Aloud UK is joined by Chair of the School Libraries Group, Caroline Roche, plus a fabulous panel of authors, including Carnegie Medal winners Anthony McGowan and Beverley Naidoo, Bali Rai, Jasbinder Bilan, Savita Kalhan, Philip Ardagh and poet Paul Cookson. The panel will kick off the Libraries Week celebrations, sharing stories about the libraries and books that have shaped their world!

David McKee wins BookTrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award – David McKee has won the prestigious BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, becoming the seventh creator to do so. David, who has a career that spans over 60 years, is known for creating beloved children’s classics including ElmerMr Benn and Not Now, Bernard – stories that are still beloved by young people today. You can read Emily Drabble’s lovely interview with David here.

As children return to school, how can author visits safely return to the classroom too? – Definitely worth reading, this article brings home the importance of author visits to schools for everyone concerned. Children’s author Tom Palmer shares his experience of returning to schools and his top tips for schools and authors who are thinking about arranging a visit this term.

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

Honey for you, Honey for Me by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell – a friend asked for a recommendation for a present for a grandchild this week and luckily I had just read this review. Jill Bennett describes this new book as ”one of the very best gifts you could give a baby or toddler.” Sorted!

Frost by Holly Webb – so many young children when they start out as independent readers are drawn to stories that feature animals that every primary school librarian needs a steady supply of new, quality titles. Veronica Price has found one… “It is such a heart-warming tale of kindness and friendship that I urge you to buy a copy when it is released in paperback format on 1 October.”

The Virus by Ben Martynoga illustrated by Moose Allain – on the LoveReading4Kids website this is a September Book of the Month. As Andrea Reece explains in her review, this time last year we could never have imagined that we would need a book to provide ‘everything you need to know to understand COVID-19’ for children but sadly we do. This book explores the science behind viruses and the COVID-19 pandemic and along the way readers learn what viruses are, how they work, and how we can overcome – or at least learn to live alongside – those that do us harm. Suitable for 9+.

Elsetime by Eve McDonnell – I love time slip novels and this debut caught my attention this week. Book Activist (Victoria Dilley) reviews the book on her website and author Eve McDonnell tells us about the inspiration for her story. This has tempted me even more!

Practical and mathematical books for children – Clare Zirkin reviewed two great book to help explain maths to children on her blog this week. Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It and Give It by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and In Great Numbers, illustrated by Daniela Olejnikova both of which I would have been grateful for as a child.

That’s all for this week. There is much to look forward to during the coming days including National Poetry Day on Thursday and the announcement of the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) shortlist. Happy reading!

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

  1. Thank you Anne for your comprehensive round up of the week’s news. I am especially grateful now that my university term has started and I have to spend more time on coursework and less on keeping up with social media updates. I’m just going to watch the Reading for Pleasure webinar you have highlighted before embarking on a theories of management textbook! Have a lovely weekend 😊


  2. alibrarylady says:

    Thank you, Veronica. The webinar is excellent and will fill you with positivity so you may be better able to cope with the theories of management! Good luck and I hope you get a chance to relax over the weekend 😊


  3. Jules_Writes says:

    Great blog post with so many useful links – thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Sonia Thompson’s blogs of the week, 28 September 2020 - Yeet Agency

  5. Debra Perrin says:

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. The obvious hard work, time and effort that goes into what you produce is incredible. I find the resources so useful not only for my own interest but in the school library where I work. Thank you. I don’t think I say it often enough so here it is again, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Debra, your lovely comments have made my day! Thank you very much. Unfortunately circumstances resulted in me retiring from my post as school librarian earlier than I would have liked so this is my way of staying involved and contributing a little. I’m so glad that you find it useful and thank you again for telling me. I do appreciate it.


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