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

Hello and welcome to this week’s look back at the latest news from the world of children’s books. For various reasons this week it has not been possible for me to keep up with book related events or reading as much as I would like. I’m planning to put that right next week! Although this may not be a comprehensive overview it does, I hope include some helpful items.

What I’m reading…

My week began with a happy time enjoying some wonderful new books and have selected some Perfect Picture Books for Christmas by Shirley Hughes, Alex T Smith and Benji Davies, all of which I think are destined to become treasured family favourites.

Last weekend I read Rocky of the Rovers by Tom Palmer and think that this is the sort of book which could convert football fans to reading and readers to the love of the beautiful game. You can find out more and read my review here. I am now reading a really lovely debut by Lesley Parr, The Valley of Lost Secrets set in Wales during World War 2. The best books are those that make you care and I already care very much about the characters. There is a sense of the importance of community and home running through the story which I’m finding touching. I’m looking forward to reading more this weekend.

Unfortunately I missed some lovely “bookish” events I was looking forward to this week but on Friday evening managed to catch the #BooksNearBedtime Twitter chat. The last one of the year it was, as usual, interesting and fun. Ben Harris @one_to_read has more great chats planned next year so if you are a Twitterer I’d recommend looking out for the hashtag. It’s usually on Thursday evenings at 8pm.

News, articles and resources…

Best children’s and teens books of 2020 – in a year when children’s literature has provided consolation, escape and hope this is a fabulous selection from Imogen Russell Williams.

Kirkus Reviews 2020 Lists – thank you to Mat Tobin (again!) for flagging up these wonderful selections of children’s books. There are many to browse on the website and these are just some you may find tempting: Best Picture Books of 2020 for the Sense of Wonder Shelf , Best Picture Books of 2020 That Celebrate Family, Best Chapter Books of 2020, Best Middle-Grade Graphic Novels of 2020 and several more by theme or genre. This is definitely worth a look.

Favourite Christmas Books Selected by Love My Books – the team of literacy specialists at this charity that combines carefully chosen books with activities and resources designed to help parents and young children have put together a lovely list of Christmas books featuring old favourites and new titles. There are also links to activities for several of the books

Love My Books December Newsletter – this month’s newsletter includes the Christmas book selection mentioned above and their Top Ten Picturebooks of 2020, a focus on Little Red by Alex T. Smith, Fair Shares by Pippa Goodhart and illus. by Anna Doherty and  Boundless Sky by Amanda Addison, illus. Manuela Adreani and an article by Helen Jones Lecturer in Primary Education at UCL Institute of Education about graphic novels, comics and reading for pleasure.

Holocaust Memorial Day Resources and a Competition from author Tom Palmer – Tom’s website is a mine of useful resources linked to his wonderful books. He hopes that his book After the War – from Auschwitz to Ambleside and its resources will help schools and libraries mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, 27 January 2021. Resources include a pre-recorded 20 minute assembly for Y5 to Y8, access to three lesson plans, posters and bookmarks and more. Tom also has a schools’ competition to win a class set of 30 copies ofAfter the War, kindly provided by my publisher, Barrington Stoke. Please visit the link to find out more about this generous and helpful offer and to see all the resources.

UKLA Awards – this video, shown last Saturday, contains the announcement of the winners for both the Digital Book Award, and the Shadowing Book Awards 2020. There is also an interesting section visiting a school who shadowed their award this year which shows the benefits to all staff of becoming involved in this interactive scheme. Congratulations to all the winners!

Finding and Funding Quality Books – Find out how to seek external income and source new books from this new school guide on resourcing Reading for Pleasure from the Open University. It contains links to grant providers and providers of book lists and suggestions. Hugely helpful to both school librarians and teachers.

Christmas 2020 – Picture Book Round-Up – Alison Leach of Books for Topics has hand-picked some fabulous festive new titles From the magical to the funny there is something here for all tastes.

Tyger Tale Advent – this annual countdown by Jake Hayes full of fascinating insights into a range of books has become part of my Christmas traditions and is highly recommended. 1st December kicked off with Christmas from Sculptor’s Daughter by Tove Jansson. I’m going to catch up with those I have missed over the weekend.

2020  Christmas Book Gift Giving Guides – Scott Evans (The Reader Teacher) has compiled lists for for different age groups and under different categories that you are able to download in poster format. These would be helpful for parents and also for teachers looking for suggestions of books to share in the run up to Christmas.

20 Black/diverse books that would make wonderful children’s Christmas gifts – a list of 20 titles, old and new, for 3 years plus on the Candid Cocoa blog. From fun-filled paperbacks to keepsake hardbacks, thought-provoking bios to emotive poetry.

The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris Classroom Resources – The “Winter Explorer’s Guide” by Eva John is now available. This is absolutely wonderful. ‘The Guide is for use in classrooms, at home or in an outdoor space of your choosing. The various activities and challenges included can be dipped in and out of or used consecutively as a cross-curricular scheme of work.
There are limitless opportunities for learning across all subjects – from researching, writing and storytelling, to science and conservation projects.’

Literacy Trust Virtual Library Author of the Week: Andy Shepherd – Listen to Andy’s book, The Boy Who Grew Dragons, for FREE and watch a video to find out how to grow a dragon of your own and lots more great activities.


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

In the Dark of the Year, Come The Lightbringers by Karin Celestine – I keep seeing pictures of this new book online and it fills me with nostalgic childhood memories. This lovely review by Mary Esther Judy expands on its appeal. “Reassuring and calming, utterly magical, a reminder of wonder and light and a promise. The first of four seasonal stories, this is the perfect gift for young and old.” Doesn’t it sounds lovely!


The Night After Christmas by Kes Gray and Claire Powell – as my birthday is on Boxing Day I rather like the idea of a picture book that celebrates the ’morning after the night before’ and this sounds fun. Jill Bennett says, “Brilliantly told in Kes Grey’s unfaultable rhyming text that bounces joyfully along to that final throwaway finale, and equally exuberantly illustrated in Claire Powell’s fantastically funky scenes of festivity.”

The Lost Child’s Quest by James Haddell – this week has seen the blog tour coinciding with the publication of this debut published on 4th December. I have read several lovely reviews but this tempting one by Nicki Cleveland also includes an interview with James which gives an insight into the influences behind his novel. This is next up on my reading pile!

Friend Me by Sheila M Averbuch – for years I have enjoyed Clare Zirkin’s book reviews and now she no longer reviews on a regular basis on her blog I sit up and take notice when one appears on my timeline. The premise of this novel for teens is intriguing and I really like the sound of it. The final sentence of this informative review is “A good read, highly recommended. Put one in the teen’s Christmas stocking! Perhaps put one on secondary school library shelves too?

That’s all for this week, I do hope it’s been helpful.

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

  1. Thank you for posting a wonderful compilation of news in a week when you’ve had other things going on. I hope that you are keeping well and that you have a relaxing weekend. Take care Anne 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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