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. There are a range of articles, interviews, resources and online events this week that I hope will entertain, inspire, help or comfort.

“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
― Mason Cooley

What I’m reading…

My bookshelves are crammed with so many books that I want to read and over the last few days I have been attempting to make inroads into the tottering heaps. Toto the Ninja Cat and the Mystery Jewel Thief is a winning mix of adventure and humour that will appeal to newly confident readers. It would also be great fun for parents and teachers to read aloud too. I’m reading Rocky of the Rovers by Tom Palmer at the moment and am reminded of my own interest in the game as a teenager and weekends revolving around footie with my two sons. However there are other important issues in this story that will give readers pause for thought.

The highlight of my reading week was the Audience with Alex Wheatle hosted by Nikki Gamble of Just Imagine on Thursday. The first in a new series this was a fabulous and inspiring event which I found interesting and hopeful too. I am very much looking forward to reading Cane Warriors now. I have included details of the second event this coming Thursday in the links below.

News, articles and resources…

Register for the 2021 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Shadowing Scheme – this scheme is an excellent way to promote top quality books and encourage book chat in schools. You need to re-register each year to take part in online Shadowing activity and for a free Publicity Pack. Registration closes on 29th January 2021

High Quality Texts for Use in the Early Years Classroom – this helpful collaborative Padlet started by Adele Darlington @mrs_darl is full of excellent book suggestions sorted by themes including Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Literacy and Communication and Language.

Interview with Jason Reynolds, America’s Ambassador for Young People’s Literature – if you missed this interview in the Guardian last week, as I did, it is worth a read. “I’m looking forward to the day that I read a newspaper, and someone says: ‘I grew up reading Jason Reynolds and that’s why I knew I could do this.’ Then I’ll know, I’ve done my job.”

School Librarians Want Bigger Role In Information Literacy and Fighting Fake News – an excellent article by Elizabeth Hutchinson, Vice-Chair of the Great School Libraries working party. I am a firm believer in the power of school librarians and teachers collaborating to maximise impact and Elizabeth explains how to manage this effectively.

Q&A with Cathy Fisher, illustrator of The New Girl, Perfect and The Pond – this is a really lovely interview on the Family Bookworms blog in which Cathy discusses her illustration techniques, collaborations with Nicola Davies and life during the pandemic.

Lockdown Nativity Kit for Schools by Frank and Denise Cottrell-Boyce – This is an absolute delight and reading the scripts put a big smile on my face this week. Complete with instructions and handy hints on filming, costumes and editing, it’s the perfect resource for teachers this Christmas. Frank, who wrote best-selling book Millions, and his wife Denise, have developed two easy to memorise rhyming scripts for infant and junior school children. These can be filmed direct to camera and the clips assembled into a single play. It is free to download but please make a donation to the charity Mary’s Meals if you are able to.

CLPE’s What We’ll Build: Notes for our Together Future Teaching Notes for Primary Schools – Following on from their success with #CLPEWordsForTheWorld based on Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers, CLPE have partnered with HarperCollins again to create a free whole school unit for Oliver Jeffers’ new book What We’ll Build: Plans for our Together Future

Bone Talk: An interview with Candy Gourlay – this is an interesting interview with author Candy Gourlay on The Reading Realm website discussing her books, Bone Talk, Shine, and Is It A Mermaid?

In the Reading Corner: Nikki Gamble interviews Mary Roche – this is a thoughtful interview highlighting how picture books can be used to help give children a voice in the classroom. It’s a must listen for any children’s book lovers. Nikki and Mary discuss her research with children talking about picturebooks and the development of critical thinking.

Costa Book Awards Shortlists Announced – Launched in 1971, the Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular book prizes and celebrates the most enjoyable books of the year by writers resident in the UK and Ireland. The shortlist for the Children’s Book Award is made up of Wranglestone by Darren Charlton, Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant, The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson and The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff.

Encouraging Reading for Pleasure While the World is in Fire – school librarian Lucas Maxwell has written about some of the ways he is trying to create a safe, welcoming place in the library during the pandemic in this article for Book Riot.

An Audience with Chris Van Allsburg – the second in this series of interviews with Nikki Gamble promises to be a real treat. Come and take part – ask your own questions or just enjoy the conversation. A single ticket for this festive event on Thursday 3rd December at 7pm is possible. With book and without book options are available.

Desert Island Discs with Helen Oxenbury – Helen has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Book Trust in 2018. She attended the Ipswich School of Art and later the Central School of Art in London where she met fellow illustrator and her future husband, John Burningham. We can find out more on Sunday 29th November at 11.00am

Time Magazine: The 10 Best YA and Children’s Books of 2020 – ‘From a picture book following a young Black Muslim girl who learns to stand up for herself when her name is mispronounced to Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’sguide to dismantling racism, these books affirm the experiences of many young readers while bringing a new point of view to others.’ An interesting selection.

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

Fascinating Fact Books – Inspirational People – as National Non-Fiction November draws to a close Jo Clarke reviews a number of books featuring inspirational people who have each in their own ways made their mark on history. All of them would be useful additions to school library shelves or would make interesting Christmas presents.

A Christmas in Time by Sally Nicholls – it is probably time to start perusing new Christmas titles and this sounds like a good one to start with. A time travel adventure, a magical mirror, a Victorian Christmas and ice-skating, it sounds irresistible! Read Emma Kuyateh’s review to find out more.

Tinsel: The Girls Who Invented Christmas by Sibeal Pounder – another Christmas read this time reviewed by Emma Perry at My Book Corner who says it “is warm, wintery festive treat populated with strong girls, friendship and adventures.” I do like the idea of reading a story about Mrs Claus for a change.

The Three Wishes by Alan Snow – any children’s book that is selected as a Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2020 should be a must have and this story of how Father Christmas works his magic sounds utterly beautiful.

Yet again there has been rather a lot of news and at this busy time of year you may not have time to read it all but I hope having these links together will be helpful for you to refer back to over the coming days. Happy reading.

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

  1. Thanks for another comprehensive round up of news Anne, you’ve included so many wonderful resources as always. The Nativity play by Frank and Denise Cottrell-Boyce looks as if it would be a huge stress-buster for many schools and a timely reminder to donate to Mary’s Meals. The Nativity play is such a major feature of my school’s calendar that rehearsals began a month ago in order to leave enough time for filming clips in “bubbles” and editing! Have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thank you, Veronica. The Nativity Play is probably a little late for many schools but is such a lovely idea I wanted to include it. Hope you’re coping ok with everything and have a lovely weekend x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I think it will be a life-saver for many schools! It can be so hard to just cover the basics at the moment with all the extra cleaning, hand washing, staggered break times etc that I’m sure many will be grateful for this. I’m pretty exhausted to be honest, reading and blogging having to take a back seat at the moment, but thankfully staying fit. It’s always very uplifting to read your reviews and newsletter 😊


  2. alibrarylady says:

    It must be so hard for you but it’s a case of priorities isn’t it, your health is the most important thing. Thank you for always being so kind and positive about Reading Matters, it’s so heartening.


  3. Calmgrove says:

    Nice range of topics, and one in particular caught my eye. Having worked as a library assistant and a secondary school teacher, I’m all for an increased role for the school librarian — if that role indeed still exists in most schools.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      The role does exist however is increasingly threatened by budget constraints. The Great School Libraries campaign has carried out research into the nationwide provision which is variable to say the least. This year hasn’t helped in many ways as librarians have not been able to operate as normal. They are having to focus on online services which although vital does mean that the physical space as a haven is lost. Like so much in 2020 it is sad.

      Liked by 1 person

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