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

Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of all the latest children’s book news. A chance to settle down and catch up with articles, resources and reviews that you may have missed during a busy week. Although I have been unable to keep up with all the events over the last few days I hope that this collection of links gives you a taste of what is available and may be interesting and helpful.

What I’m reading…

Real life has rather dominated this week so I have not had time for much reading however I have had the opportunity to browse some wonderful picture books that I would like to recommend. The Snowflake by Benji Davies is one of those special books that encourage you to slow down your reading and look properly at what is happening. A gorgeous story told with gentle kindness accompanied by illustrations in a subtle and emotionally engaging style, this is perfect for Christmas. A Little Bit Brave by Nicola Kinnear is a reassuring and amusing tale in which the reader follows a young rabbit who discovers he can be brave if he really needs to be. Finally, duo Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell have collaborated on another poetry collection, Honey for Me, Honey for You and this is every bit as wonderful as you would imagine it to be. Packed with old favourites and more obscure rhymes accompanied by stunning illustrations it would be a valuable addition to bookshelves at home or school. There are details below of an online event linked to this book which you may find of interest.

News, articles and resources…

The Book Trust Appeal – this appeal raises money to send book parcels to children who are vulnerable or in care.  This year, more so than ever before, there will be children who may not be looking forward to Christmas. And for the first time, some parcels will be given out through community foodbanks to help some families who have been adversely affected by lockdowns and who are facing a difficult Christmas. Find out how you can help by clicking on the link.

Winter Mini Challenge 2020 Official Booklist – From friendship, to inventing to fun! This reading list is full of heroes that inspire, challenge and push the definition of what it means to be a hero. These books have been chosen by publisher Knights Of as recommended reads for the Everyone Is A Hero Winter Mini Challenge. 

Library Lesson Ideas from former School Librarian of the Year Lucas Maxwell – Lucas’s helpful blog is now seven years old and this link will take you to his great lesson suggestions covering subjects including Fake News, Copyright, Picturebooks and Reading Log alternatives.

Why Should We Value Factual Books for Children? – this article by author Andy Seed is particularly interesting this month as we highlight this type of children’s book as part of National Non-Fiction November.

#PassThePen booklist: Christmas gift ideas from brilliant Book Trust Represents authors and illustrators – as part of this new initiative Book Trust have shared some of the books that featured in #PassThePen – every book in this list has been published between September 2019 to November 2020 and has been created by at least one British author or illustrator of colour who has published no more than four books.

Tiny Voice Talks: Reading for Pleasure with Teresa Cremin, Sonia Thompson, Ben Harris and Richard Charlesworth – Joining Toria Bono in this podcast, these passionate advocates for Reading for Pleasure explore what exactly Reading for Pleasure means, why it is not an ‘add on’, or evidenced only by means of fun activity days, but should rather be viewed as a core part of the reading curriculum in every school.

Marcus Rashford launches children’s book club to spread the joy of reading – a footballer who now needs no introduction, even to people who have never watched a match in their lives, he is now spreading an important message and promoting reading and literacy. His Twitter feed is a source of optimism and hope every day.

Fiction for older children review – wayward wizards and a war of the worlds – the books reviewed by a Kitty Empire for the Observer include new titles from David Almond, Benjamin Zephaniah and Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I now have even more titles on my shopping list!

Puffin Books: Meet an Author– schools across the country can book a virtual visit from a real life author. Taking place over Zoom, each 30-minute webinar session will include a live presentation by an author giving pupils a behind-the-scenes look at their books, characters and writing process. Friday 27th November: Jamie Littler, author of the Frostheart series Friday 4th December: Robin Stevens, author of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries.

Top authors join Story Explorers: a new podcast for kids, by kids – The National Literacy Trust has launched a new children’s radio and podcast series Story Explorers, which is all about stories for 7 to 11-year-olds, available weekdays at 6.15pm on the national children’s radio station Fun Kids. There will be more content and quizzes on Words for Life created for listeners of Story Explorers based on the episodes from the week for teachers to share with their class or for children to do at home.

CLPE Literacy Library presents… The Role of Rhyme and Song in Early Reading Development – CLPE’s Charlotte Hacking will introduce the session focusing on the book Honey for me, Honey for you, and share how rhyme and song play a vital role in the development of children’s language and literacy. Together with Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, they will discuss and reflect on the ways in which children’s literature offers ideas to develop word recognition, reading comprehension and cross-curricular activities through rhyme and song.

Little Angel Theatre Advent Story – a special digital advent calendar! The Christmas Nisse by Patrick Nielsen and Robyn Owen Wilson is a heart-warming tale which will take you all the way to Christmas with a chapter for each day of December. Ideal for primary-aged children. They will be released for free on the Little Angel Theatre YouTube channel

Mental Health, Wellbeing and the School Library – an update on Phase 2 of the Great School Libraries campaign from Barbara Band, vice-chair if the committee. This has always been an important aspect of school library life but one that has received more attention during the Covid19 pandemic.

Best books of 2020: Children’s and Young adult – James Lovegrove and Suzi Feay select their must-read titles for the Financial Times. This selection includes The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert which is receiving many plaudits and is moving rapidly up my to read list.

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

The Incredible Record Smashers by Jenny Pearson illustrated by Erica Salcedo – this sounds like a book to look out for in 2021. Books that balance humour with sensitivity and a thoughtful look at life’s problems are always a welcome addition to school bookshelves and Andrew Rough says, “as a teacher I think this could be a valuable book for the classroom.” in his thoughtful review.

Fantastic Inventions! – Jo Cummins reviews several excellent ‘factual books’ here including one looking back at the history of inventions, another speculating what future inventions may look like and one examining inventions inspired nature.

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah – historical fiction always holds an appeal for me and I do like the sound of this dual narrative set in Brazil and West Africa. In her review for LoveReading4Kids Joanne Owen says, “It provides vital insights into the impacts of European imperialism, and the connections between Africans and Brazilians of African descent, through a distinctly moving human story.” Suitable for 11+

My plans for the weekend include putting my huge pile of books to review in to some sort of order. With luck I will be able to share some Christmas reviews next Saturday. Fingers crossed!

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

  1. The Deep Blue Between sounds good. I’ll have to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

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