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

Hello and welcome to this week’s catch up of news from the children’s book world. Black History Month is marked in October, this week saw both Libraries Week and Dyslexia Awareness Week and today is World Mental Health Day and all of these events are of course linked to books and this week’s round up reflects this.

What I’m reading…

This week I read two very different books published by Barrington Stoke, Daisy and The Unknown Warrior by Tony Bradman and World Burn Down by Steve Cole and enjoyed them both. Although different in themes I was struck by the way in which they could both link to the curriculum within schools so have reviewed them in a joint post and linked to teaching resources here in case that would be helpful.

Years ago I read and enjoyed Dame Floella Benjamin’s memoir, Coming to England and this week saw the publication of a picture book version. It is lovely and I would recommend it for both home and school, you can read my review to find out why.

As part of Libraries Week, Tiny Owl Books kindly invited me to write a guest blog post about the need for diverse and inclusive books in libraries. I think that when a school library is inclusive and recognises diversity it sends a positive message to children and helps build bridges and creating understanding. If you are interested you can read my post here.

News, articles and resources…

2020 Children’s Book Award winners to be announced on 10th October – Join hosts Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve to discover who has won the CBA awards for 2020. Sarah and Philip will also read you a brand new story – written especially for the Book Awards! – and Sarah will be sharing a drawing masterclass. Saturday 2pm, today!

The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris celebrates the magic of British wildlife – this article from the Guardian explains how the authors hope The Lost Words followup will inspire action and change. My copy of this beautiful book arrived this week and it is a book to cherish.

The Lost Spells Explorer Guide – a free 35-page Autumn Explorer’s Guide to The Lost Spells, by education consultant Eva John. Lesson plans, activities, writing & art challenges, outdoor learning, nature-literacy all free to download.

An interview with illustrator Daisy Hirst – Jake Hope’s interview with this popular illustrator about her work, influences and techniques is an interesting read. Daisy also talks about her book I Do Not Like Books Anymore being selected for the 2020 Read for Empathy Collection.

Jungle Drop by Abi Elphinstone Teaching Resources – the second in the Unmapped Chronicles is out now and there are a range of teaching resources, video clips and ideas available on the Authorfy website. It’s free to register!

Diversifying knowledge of children’s literature by Matthew Courtney – Looking for diversify your knowledge of children’s literature? Be sure to check out this blog post by teacher Matt Courtney on the OuRfP site for advice and links to resources to help teachers and school librarians become ‘agents for change’.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Dyslexia Creates – Awesome Authors – Jo Cummins has written this interesting blog post featuring some well-known children’s authors who have been quite open about their struggles with dyslexia and how they’ve worked around their difficulties to produce some of our favourite children’s books.

MindYourself – the Mental Health & Wellbeing Reading Guide – Launched this week by Children’s Books Ireland in partnership with ISPCC Childline & JigsawYMH. This guide is a ‘first-aid kit’ for worries, sadness, anxiety & any number of feelings a young person may want to explore. I am impressed by the amount of work that has gone into creating this free and comprehensive guide; full of practical advice and wonderful book lists covering board books for babies all the way to YA titles this is a brilliant resource.

UKLA Book Awards 2021 Longlists Announced – The longlists for the 13th year of these unique book awards highlight a diverse range of authors, from exciting debuts to prize-winners and best-sellers. All the books exemplify the award criteria’s aim of encouraging teachers’ knowledge of high-quality children’s books that can reflect all identities and promote diversity.

Author Tom Palmer’s Free Remembrance Day Resources – This is so helpful and generous. Free resources for schools, including a pre-recorded assembly, a live Q&A, posters, short films from the Somme and Normandy linked to Tom’s books Over the LineD-Day DogArmistice Runner and the Wings RAF series.

Black Lives, Black History & Anti-Racism Book Suggestions – Books for Topics have put together a list of children’s books that celebrate black lives and that explore black history both in the UK and around the globe. They have also included some key titles that support conversations about systematic racism in a child-friendly way. A useful all year round resource and not only for Black History Month.  

Book Trust’s Great Book Guide 2020 – the Book Trust team have put together this guide of 100 books from the last year carefully chosen to engage and excite children all the way up to age 11. They are grouped by interest age.

October 2020 Children’s and Young People booklist – Brilliant books by black authors and illustrators – a helpful list compiled by the Reading Agency of 65 brilliant books created by black authors and illustrators. There is something for everyone with fantastic poetry, graphic novels, fiction and non-fiction titles.

Library Insights: Supporting Student Social and Emotional Well-being through Inquiry Based Learning – School librarian Emma Wallace describes how carefully structured lessons in the library can have a positive effect on pupils’ well being on the a Great School Libraries website.

Floella Benjamin on turning Coming to England into a picture book – a fascinating insight into the writing process that created the lovely picture book I reviewed above. The importance of teamwork in its creation and balancing the need for historical facts with an awareness of the sensibilities of young children is covered in this a Book Trust interview.

Through the Looking Glasses: A Free Anthology – anthology of illustrations and bedtime stories from wonderful children’s writers and illustrators from around the world edited by Nicolette Jones. Free to download this book has been created to promote the Glasses in Classes campaign.

The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2020 – this year’s shortlist was announced this week with titles on a variety of subjects, from the tiny microbes in your gut, through the poetic language of code to the wonders of space and beyond. The Prize aims to promote literacy in young people and to inspire them to read about science. It also supports the writing of excellent, accessible STEM books for under-14s. The Prize is unique in that the winner is selected by judging panels made up of young people at schools across the country from a shortlist curated by an adult judging panel.

Zafon Weil wins 2020 CLiPPA (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award) – Poet Zaro Weil was announced the winner of this annual poetry award yesterday for her collection of nature poems, Cherry Moon, published by ZaZaKids Books/ Troika Books and illustrated by Junli Song. You can read more about the award and the shortlisted books in this article in Books for Keeps.

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

Britannica All New Children’s Encyclopaedia: authored by various, Christopher Lloyd (ed) – Nikki Gamble’s Book of the Week on the Just Imagine website. A wonderful, informative review. This new edition sounds to have adapted what was best of the old version & made it work for today’s children, nurturing curiosity too.

Big Bright Feelings – Tom Percival – I am fond of this series of picture books. Sometimes young children lack the vocabulary to be able to articulate their feelings and these books are a perfect way to prompt conversations and also to reassure and comfort. Jo Clarke’s lovely reviews explain how they do this.

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle – if you are super organised you may be planning your Christmas reading and possibly present lists too. This review by Veronica Price has put this on my Christmas wish list as she says, “Catherine Doyle has written a remarkable story which celebrates the colour, beauty, hope and love of Christmas.”

Cherry Moon written by Zaro Weil illustrated by Junli Song – beautiful review by Andrea Reece on LoveReading4Kids by Andrea Reece of the winner of this year’s CLiPPA (see above) “At a time when children need nature more than they ever have, Cherry Moon is a book to treasure.”

That’s all for this week and I do hope that something has proved to be of interest or will be helpful to you. Happy reading! 

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

  1. As always Anne you have provided lots of information for me to think about and act on this week. Thank you. I hope you have a lovely weekend 😊


  2. alibrarylady says:

    You are such a loyal reader of this, Veronica. Thank you! I hope you have a lovely weekend too.


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