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

Hello and welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of books and reading for children and young people. The kind, thoughtfulness of the children’s book community was in evidence this week when author Anne Booth organised a letter in response to the free school meals vote in Parliament. More than 200 authors and illustrators signed the letter and you can read more on the BBC News site.

What I’m reading...

This week I’ve read and reviewed, with the help of my family, a lovely picture book, Where’s Baby Elephant? by Ali Khodai. This is a joy to share and would make a great present for babies and toddlers.

Sometimes books hold unexpected connections and reminders of other stories, other lives, other possibilities and The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay is, for me, one of those books. It makes you want to believe in magic, or at least to believe in the power of wonder and imagination, something we may sometimes lose in adulthood. Although described as a children’s book quite honestly I think it’s a book for everyone.

A highlight of my week was the Open University webinar on Reading for Pleasure: the role of book talk, an interesting and inspiring hour of ideas, recommendations and advice. Professor Teresa Cremin was joined by an expert panel of teachers – Ben Harris and Richard Charlesworth, a librarian – Rumena Aktar and the children’s author Smriti Halls. If you missed it the video link is available here and I would highly recommend it.

News, articles and resources…

The Book That Made Me: Eloise Williams – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month and in this edition of The Book That Made Me on the Book Trust website author Eloise Williams explains why it had such an impact on her as a young reader.

The Promise: Bringing The Promise to life in your school, home or community – this is wonderful. A range of videos and resources linked to the picture book The Promise by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin including tips for how to make your screening of The Promise more engaging. The resources include: a classroom guide for how to prompt discussion and creativity after the screening, ideas for how your school can take collective action and become part of a generation of youngsters who are promising themselves a greener future, and thoughts on how to continue the energy after the day. The videos are also available with signing.

What is Reading For Pleasure? with #MorningBrewEd – Ed Finch and Toria Bono hosted this chat on Sunday 18th October and this helpful blogpost by Toria includes a summary of the chat between their guests, Teresa Cremin, Ben Harris, Sonia Thompson and Richard Charlesworth, links to a video recording of the event and a Recommended Books Padlet. Lots to explore and well worth having a look at this if you missed the event last Sunday.

Tiny Owl Publishers Activity Packs – Tiny Owl publish a range of fabulous picture books and have created free activity packs, full of brilliant ideas to help enrich your readings of many of their books, whether in the classroom, library or at home! More are being added so it’s worth keeping up to date with this website.

Scoop Magazine Black History Month Special –  If you’ve not come across it before, Scoop is a magazine for children aged 7-13, that tackles a particular theme every issue. It is created with the help of a guest editor and a young junior editor. This month the guest editor is prize-winning author, Sharna Jackson and the Black History Month issue was curated to help children understand and contextualise discussions around race and racism in positive, inspiring and creative ways.

Glenthorne School Library September Reopening: An Update – school librarian, Lucas Maxwell provides an update on his library and how he is coping with adapting to the current requirements. A helpful look at what works and what doesn’t and the good news that book borrowing figures are soaring!

Stories of Joy and Hope: share your story to win a school visit from Book Trust Writer in Residence Smriti Halls – a competition for primary aged pupils with a deadline of 22nd January 2021 this is an opportunity to encourage children to think about what brings them happiness. It could be a story, a list of joyful things or a series of jokes. The winner will receive a visit by Smriti to their school and the runners up will win a set of her books for their library. All the details are available on the website.

Jenni Jennings & Damaris Young in conversation with Scott Evans 31st October 5pm – Celebrate Halloween with two spooky middle grade reads! Join Jenni Jennings (author of Malice in Underland) and Damaris Young (author of The Creature Keeper and The Switching Hour) for a conversation about their new books with Scott Evans (host of Primary School Book Club). This is the perfect event for the spooky season for young readers and teachers. 

Astrid Lingdren Memorial Award 2021 – Congratulations to all who are in the running for the this auspicious award. The list of candidates was announced on Wednesday 21st October. It is one of the most comprehensive lists of the world’s foremost living children’s and young adult’s book creators & reading promoters. The UK section includes the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Aidan Chambers and Daniel Hahn plus authors including David Almond, Michael Rosen and Katherine Rundell and illustrators Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake.

Picture books for children – reviews – Imogen Carter’s round up for The Observer includes the follow up to to Jill Murphy’s classic, Peace at Last, the lovely picture book version of Dame Floella Benjamin’s memoir, Coming to England and more to add to your ‘to be read list’.

Little Rebels Award Winner Announcement – Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearring have won the 2020 Little Rebels Award for their picture book The Boy who Loved Everyone. You can read more about the award, the winning picture book and the shortlisted titles in this Books for Keeps article.

Five books to read to children that adults will enjoy – a great selection chosen by Alison Baker Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, University of East London for The Conversation, for ages three to ten plus and their grownups.

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

Who Makes a Forest? by Sally Nicholls and Carolina Rabei – this picture book tells the story of how a forest came to be, a lovely look at the life cycle and what makes up the ecosystem of this habitat. Jill Bennett says in her review, “Whether for home bookshelves or school classroom collections, I strongly recommend this book.”

Fairy Tales Reimagined – Jo Cummins reviews four collections of fairy tales reimagined for the modern era, all of which look tempting and would be great additions to home or school bookshelves.

Mabel and the Mountain by Kim Hillyard – this debut sounds delightful. It tells the story of a tiny fly named Mabel who has big plans and is determined to overcome adversity to achieve her goals. Kate Hitchings describes it as “a lovely book to read aloud” and in addition “it will engage children and inspire them to voice their own dreams.” You can find out more in Kate’s review for Just Imagine.

The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr – this debut is due out in January 2021 and I am lucky to have a copy which I am saving until I can settle down and savour it properly. This lovely review by Jo Clarke gives you a taste of this WW2 story and its “hauntingly beautiful storytelling,” and it is most definitely one to watch out for next year.

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle – this is a book I keep seeing mentioned online as a must read. Based on true events in 1760 Jamaica, a 14 year old slave boy is involved in an uprising against his oppressors this is a fabulous review by Joanne Owen for LoveReading4Kids. She says, “Lucidly lyrical and raw, I cannot praise Cane Warriors enough.” 

I hope that this week’s assortment has contained something that has been useful or interesting or maybe just another book to add to your lists. Wishing everyone on half term break this week a relaxing and restoring holiday.

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

  1. Thank you for posting so many links to useful resources Anne. I am especially grateful for the link to the Reading for Pleasure webinar as I was too slow to book myself a place on the live session. I hope you have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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