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

Welcome to this week’s Reading Matters and a chance to catch up on children’s book news that you may have missed during a busy week.

What I’m reading…

This week I have been reading adult fiction, Amanda Craig’s latest The Golden Rule, however I have written a couple of reviews of children’s books that I read recently. Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill illustrated by Gwen Millward is a cautionary tale that evolves into a guide to coping with grief and loss that culminates in words of kindness, hope and comfort. You can read my review for Just Imagine here. A Thousand Questions, the new middle grade book by Saadia Faruqi, was published on Thursday and I was struck by its important themes and the distinctive voices of the two main characters. The Reflecting Realities report has emphasised the need for stories such as this one and you can read my review here .

Over the last few days I have devoted some time to listening to podcasts linked to children’s literature and have found it both interesting and relaxing. Deeper Reading with Jake Hayes is a lovely listen; thank you to Mat Tobin for the recommendation. Jake’s interview with Piers Torday is fascinating and made me want to reread both The Frozen Sea and The Silver Chair. I have a couple more lined up for my weekend listening. I included In the Reading Corner with Nikki Gamble in my round up last week but would like to mention an episode I listened to this week where Nikki talks to Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett about their approach to gender-swapping in traditional fairy stories, it’s well worth a listen.

News, articles and resources…

CLPE Reflecting Realities Research Report – Reflecting Realities is the first UK study looking at diversity in children’s literature. Funded by the Arts Council, the aim is to quantify and evaluate the extent and quality of ethnic representation and diversity in children’s publishing in the UK. This is the third report to be published and although it shows a year on year positive trend there is still much work to be done. “In 2019 33.5% of the school population were of minority ethnic origins, in stark contrast only 5% of children’s books had an ethnic minority main character.”

Representation in children’s books still not reflective of society, says BookTrust and CLPE – an article providing opinion and background to the two reports published this week by CLPE and Book Trust.

Reflecting Realities in Children’s Books: 20 Picture Book Recommendations – if the findings of the recent research have prompted you to source new inclusive picture books for your collection this blogpost by Rachael Davis (Picture Book Perfect) provides details of some excellent suggestions.

Patti Bacchus: School librarians are the heroes we need – the political events of the last few years have shown that now more than ever we need to teach students media literacy and critical thinking skills. This excellent article by a Canadian education columnist details how school librarians are the people who are able to do this.

The Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teachers Awards 2020 – Through these awards, Egmont Publishing in partnership with The Open University and UK Literacy Association, aim to recognise teachers and schools whose research-informed practices make a real difference to children’s reading for pleasure. Many congratulations to this year’s winners. Please do have a look at the wonderful work that has been done by these inspiring schools and individuals via the link. An excellent way to pick up useful ideas.

12 Books of Christmas – teacher and children’s book enthusiast, Dean Boddington has kindly collated three great lists of Christmas themed books in three categories, Picture Books, Chapter Books and Favourite Characters. These are useful for present ideas, for parents and for sharing in the classroom. Thank you, Dean.

Graphic Novels Padlet – I have shared this brilliant Padlet created by teacher Richard Ruddick before but as he has recently updated it I am sharing this useful resource again. The books are suitable for KS2 and above.

Favourite books this month selected by Book Trust – a wide range of titles including Anisha Accidental Detective: School’s Cancelled!, shortlisted for the Blue Peter Award, World Burn Down by Steve Cole and a book on my own wish list, Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake illustrated by Jon Klassen.

If everyone read books written for dyslexic children, the world would be a kinder place. – a thoughtful and thought provoking article by children’s author and bookseller, Fleur Hitchcock.

Recommended Reads for Anti-Bullying Week – the Books for Topics website is always a useful resource and this selection includes books suitable for a range of ages including picture books, longer reads and non-fiction too.

Books for Keeps November Issue – always a must read for me and this month is no exception. In addition to reviews and regular features James Mayhew selects his 10 Books Every Child Should Read, the latest Beyond the Secret Garden article is a seasonal special with suggestions for Christmas presents and Nicolette Jones’ interview with Shirley Hughes is the loveliest read of my week.

Tiny Owl Crowdfund – Tiny Owl was established in 2015 with the aim of publishing high quality, diverse and inclusive picture books that help to develop tolerance, acceptance and empathy, and build bridges to new experiences. The pandemic has badly affected Tiny Owl and for this wonderful publisher to continue producing books that make a difference they need our help. The CrowdFund page has details of the rewards available and, if their readers help, Tiny Owl hope that they can survive the next few critical months.

Little Island Books and Friends of the Earth Ireland join forces on crowdfunder for eco-friendly book for teens – independent Irish children’s publisher Little Island Books and environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Ireland want to produce Ireland’s most eco-friendly children’s book ever. The team behind this project is launching a crowdfunder to raise €15,000 to make this unique book. A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change not only explains the problem of climate change in an easy to digest way, it is also part of the solution – a step into the future for Irish children’s publishing. You can find out more and how you can help via the link.

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2020 – the winners of the only awards curated by bookshops and chosen by readers were announced this week. Among the winners of the different categories were: Non-Fiction Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty; Poetry Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year by Britta Teckentrup and Fiona Waters; Young Adult Fiction
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron and Children’s Fiction The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

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

Where Snow Angels Go by Maggie O’Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini – I have read and enjoyed novels by Maggie O’Farrell and was intrigued when I discovered that she had written a picture book. Jill Bennett, in her lovely review, says that it is “destined to become a seasonal classic” so I am now even more tempted.  

The Snowman and the Sun by Susan Taghdis and Ali Mafakheri – it is National Non -Fiction November and picture books are an excellent way to introduce this style of reading to young children. Mary Roche’s insightful review encouraged me to have a deeper look at this book published by Tiny Owl and I’m glad that I did. A wonderful introduction to science and for encouraging curiosity.

Glassheart by Katherine Orton – somehow I missed reading this author’s debut, Nevertell, last year but before I have corrected that book number two has appeared on the scene. I do love the sound of this one, a mix of historical war story and fantasy. Described as “utterly enchanting, deeply mysterious and filled with the echoes of folklore” in this review on Fallen Star Stories this sounds appealing.

That’s all for this week, I hope that you have found something interesting, helpful of tempting among the selection of links.

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

  1. Thanks for the shout, Library Lady.


  2. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    Excellent! Thank you very much.


    Liked by 1 person

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