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

Hello and welcome to this week’s compilation of news, interviews, resources and reviews linked to books for children and teens.

“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.” 

Michel de Montaigne

What I’m reading…

There have been some fabulous books published this year and just when I think I’ve selected my favourite reads of 2020 something comes along to change my ideas. The Silent Stars Go By, the latest YA book by Sally Nicholls, is published in November and is wonderful. Set at Christmas 1919, during the aftermath of the First World War this is social history brought to life through the experiences of characters that I grew to cherish this week. A perfect read for dark, winter evenings or specifically over Christmas time I think this is beautifully written. I have reviewed it for Just Imagine here.

Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill illustrated by Gwen Millward is a story told in verse about grief, memories, loss and love. Reading it gave me a great deal to ponder upon and I will be reviewing it within the next few days, again for Just Imagine

This weekend I will continue to enjoy reading A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi, you can read an interview with the author below. Although only a few chapters in I already think this will be a valuable addition to school bookshelves.

News, articles and resources...

Children’s book tells story of Daphne Caruana Galizia – I shared a review of Fearless by Gattaldo a couple of weeks ago and this article provides more background to this remarkable woman’s life and the inspiration for writing the book.

Colour the Shelves: Interview with Saadia Faruqi, author of A Thousand Questions – I have just started reading this book, the first MG title by this author, and am enjoying it very much. This interview provides an insight into how this book about friendship across cultures came about.

Great School Libraries: Case Studies Blog – if you are looking for inspiration for how to make the most of your school library these examples provide plenty of ideas ranging from newsletters and teachers’ reading groups to inquiry based learning and creating links between primary and secondary.

Courage in World War 2 – Sufiya Ahmed and Tom Palmer 4th November 6pm – an online event organised by Scholastic, you are invited to join Sufiya and Tom in conversation, talking about their books set during the Second World War.  You can sign up via the link for a chat about bravery, the importance of history and the true stories told in their books.

Love My Books October Newsletter – in case you missed it earlier I’m sharing this again as it contains so much that may be helpful to both parents and teachers. This edition includes how to a shadow puppet theatre, newbooks and activity pages, downloadable activity booklets for older children and Mary Roche on the importance of reading to babies and toddlers.

Penguin launches project to boost diversity in GCSE reading lists – publisher Penguin Random House has teamed up with the thinktank the Runnymede Trust to boost diversity in reading lists in schools. There is more information in this Guardian article The partnership – Lit in Colour – follows a recent report by Teach First which found that pupils could leave school in England without studying a novel or play by a black or minority ethnic author.

Advice for Writing Poems, Kids Poems and Stories With Michael Rosen – This is great. A Poetry Masterclass in collaboration with Authorfy this Michael Rosen Poetry Masterclass, the other poems, stories and interviews on the channel are free resources and make great starting points for English, TEFL or ESOL lessons or homeschooling.

Shh! We Have A Plan: Opera for Kids– the team who created the wonderful versions of Jon Klassen’s “Hat books” now turn their attention to this lovely, popular picture book by Chris Haughton. If you sign up to the English National Opera family newsletter you will also receive instructions on how to make your own puppet bird so you can join in!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expury – this is a gorgeous review of a classic children’s book beloved of adults too but what I loved as much as the review was the beautiful exploration of the importance of listening to stories read aloud. I have returned to this more than once since I read it earlier this week as it reminds me of the happiest and most important memories. Thank you very much to Jack Brown for writing this.

Wrigglers, wanderers, stampers and shy children… reading different stories to different listeners – Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearring winners of the Little Rebels Award 2020 with their book The Boy Who Loved Everyone. They share their book recommendations for children who listen to stories in all sorts of ways. I enjoyed reading this article; it reminded me of reading picture books to nursery children as a Beanstalk volunteer, sadly still on hold at the moment. There are several great suggestions here.

October World Kid Lit Round Up – this fabulous selection collated by Claire Storey and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp of all the latest news, reviews and details of books in translation plus events is extremely helpful and I love have it all together in one place. Thank you very much, Claire and Ruth!

Blue Peter Book Awards 2021 – the longlists for this popular award were announced this week. Ten books are in the running for Best Story, while ten are on the list for Best Book With Facts. Watch Blue Peter on 5 November to discover which titles end up on this year’s shortlists! The nominated books will then be sent to children in judging schools across the country, who will read them all and then vote for their favourites.

National Non-Fiction November 2020 – don’t forget this annual event celebrating the wonderful world of non-fiction books for children. This year’s theme is The Planet We Share, a subject of importance and concern. There are book lists, ideas and resources available on the website.

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

The Last Tree by Emily Haworth-Booth – this thoughtful picture book is one of my favourites of the year so far and this insightful review by Mat Tobin gives a flavour of what the book is like and the reasons why it has such an impact. Mat’s understanding and knowledge of picturebooks always encourages me to revisit them and discover more and this review has had the same effect.

Timelines from Black History by Dorling Kindersley illustrated by Lauren Quinn – this DK children’s book includes more than 30 visual timelines, which explore the biographies of the famous and the not-so-famous – from royalty to activists, and writers to scientists, and more. In her glowing review Jill Bennett says, “This is a book that should be used in all KS2 classrooms and secondary school history departments.”

Along The Tapajos by Fernando Vilela translated by Daniel Hahn – This picturebook, originally published in Brazil, has been longlisted for the UKLA 2021 Book Awards under ‘Information Texts’ and this helpful review on The Values Bookshelf explains why and how it could be used in the classroom

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange – I loved The Secret of Nightingale Wood, Lucy Strange’s debut, and this lovely review by Rich Simpson has encouraged me to put her latest book on my to read list. “A dark, Gothic ghost tale in the true Victorian sense, it has all the classic elements of a period scare story…” It sounds perfect for dark, winter evenings.

The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert – this YA debut on themes of grief and loss sounds like a must read as it is receiving accolades from authors I trust such as Hilary McKay. Ben Harris is a reviewer whose opinion I also trust and his fabulous review for Just Imagine has pushed this book up my to read lists. Ben says, “I have been lucky enough to read many excellent books this year, but very few have taken me in their steely grip and struck so forcibly as this one.” Impossible to resist really!

That’s all for this week and I hope you have find something enjoyable, enlightening or useful in this week’s selection. Happy reading.

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

  1. Thank you Anne, as always this is a great read and full of useful resources. Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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