Hello and welcome to the last Reading Matters of the year. There is a slightly festive feel to the links this week with ideas for books to share as a family during the break from Dawn Finch and a guide to books on TV over Christmas from school librarian, Helen Smith.
When I made my New Year’s Resolution to try to keep up to date with children’s book news and share it if possible I, like everyone else, had no idea what 2020 would bring for us all. Looking back now over the last twelve months one of the most encouraging aspects has been the supportive and friendly children’s book community that I have met through this newsletter. Thank you to everyone who has created, shared, or inspired the lovely book chat that has cheered and comforted us all. There are too many to name but I appreciate it very much and hope that, if possible, you have a happy and healthy Christmas.
What I’m reading…
The Lost Valley of Secrets by Lesley Parr is to be published in January and I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy. When an author makes you care about the characters you are carried along with the story as you want to discover what happens to these people. Within one chapter I cared about Jimmy and Ronnie. This lovely story highlights the special bond between brothers and the importance of home and community to us all.
I am now halfway through another debut, The Lost Child’s Quest by James Haddell and enjoying this adventure and its main protagonist greatly. Both James Haddell and Lesley Parr are teachers and clearly know their audience well. My reviews of both books will follow soon.
News, articles and resources…
Sky News Book Trust Interview – interview with Smriti Halls and Gemma Malley about the BookTrust Christmas appeal – 10th December 2020. I love what Smriti says about the importance of books for children, and for us all really, and wanted to start this week’s collection of links with this burst of positivity!
Why Nostalgia for Classic Children’s Books is a Problem – this article by Dr Laura Ovenden for TES makes some important and excellent points and is well worth a read if you missed it last weekend.
Love that book: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey – Alison Dawkins shares her passion for this very special Christmas book on the Herts for Learning blog. The post includes a reading of the book and some teaching ideas linked to the story,
Books of the Year selected by Gordon Askew – There are lots of ‘best of’ lists at this time of year and I always value Gordon’s reviews and am inclined to read books that he recommends. This look back at his children’s books of 2020 contains some real gems.
Alex Wheatle: ‘I have nightmarish moments where my past comes back and hits me’ – The prize-winning author’s life was an episode of Steve McQueen’s hit series Small Axe last weekend. In this interview he talks about working on the project and his latest novel, based on a Jamaican slave uprising
Finch’s Festive Fifty! by Dawn Finch – Librarian, author and CILIP trustee Dawn Finch has created a lovely list focussed on family-friendly books that can be read aloud and shared with independent readers (including grown-ups!) All longer MG novels suitable for age. 9+. Dawn announced this week that she was standing down from her role as CILIP trustee, she has made a large and valuable contribution to the world of libraries and will be much missed.
Tick Box Diversity – Chris Curtis writes as both a teacher and a parent of a child with cerebral palsy and I found this an enlightening post. A thoughtful and thought provoking blogpost that school librarians and teachers will find informative.
Judging Panel for the 2021 Klauss Flugge Prize announced – The Klaus Flugge Prize is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. This is the sixth year of this influential award, and the 2021 judges have been named as illustrator Posy Simmonds MBE; Darryl Clifton Illustration Programme Director at Camberwell College of Arts; Fleur Sinclair of the Sevenoaks Bookshop; Mathew Tobin Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature, Oxford Brookes University; and 2020 Klaus Flugge Prize winner Eva Eland.
Christmas Reading Times 2020 – I look forward to this every year and I know I’m not alone! Helen Smith, librarian at Eckington School, has put together this publication listing all the books being shown in adaptations on TV over Christmas. A huge amount of effort goes into thus each year so if you are going to share it please do credit Helen. The link to the downloadable publication is on The Heart of the School website run by Caroline Roche, another site well worth investigating.
BookTrust Storytime Prize – This prize, which is now in its second year, celebrates and promotes the best books for sharing with young children and is run in association with the CILIP Youth Libraries Group. BookTrust Storytime Prize 2020 has been won by Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee for their book This Is Owl!
Go on a Winter Adventure with the British Library – this lovely activity created by Viviane Schwarz would be fun to share with children in the last week of term or during the holidays.
Top of the Kids Books 2020: Picture Books – this is a lovely selection chosen by Mary Esther Judy including a couple that I have missed.
The School Library Association’s new President brings a new vision for the future of school libraries – on Wednesday SLA announced the appointment of their new president, award-winning speaker, bestselling author and world-renowned thinker, Richard Gerver. “I will be spending my time at the SLA bringing school libraries back to the heart of the debate around education.”
Best of 2020: Picture Books (Translated) – the creators of the World Kid Lit website asked us to tell them their favourite discoveries from the last 12 months. This post talks about picture book but it also includes links to favourite chapter books for emerging readers, middle grade and young adult.
Books to inspire activism – from toddlers to teens – this article co-written by Nicky Parker of Amnesty and Letterbox Library provides top tips for books to empower young activists. A wonderful range of titles from picture books to YA titles.
The best children’s books for Christmas 2020 – a selection made by Amanda Craig for The New Statesman this includes one of my favourite reads of the the year, The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
A Thing Called Snow written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer – this children’s book creator is known for his titles celebrating the world around us and this one sounds perfect for a winter read. Veronica Price describes it as a “spellbinding book is absolutely perfect for sharing with young children at this time of year and will give hours of pleasure to both children and adults.”
Brand New Boy by David Almond – this review of David Almond’s latest book has intrigued me and as an admirer of his writing I am keen to find out more. The story is set in a school and Louise says, “Almond has written around this theme before, but Brand New Boy is squarely in support of schools and teachers.”
Daemon Voices on Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman – selected by Joanne Owen as LoveReading4Kids’ YA Book of the Month for December I can imagine this being on many Christmas present lists. Joanne’s summary is tempting, “Dæmon Voices is a trove of enlightenment, and entertaining to boot.”
The Invisible by Tom Percival – although this book is not published until February 2021 I wanted to include it as it is already on my wish list. I’ve enjoyed all of Tom Percival’s picture books that I have read so far and this sounds just as lovely. If you read this lovely review from Sue at The Bookbag I think you’ll want to read it too.
That’s all for this week and for this year. Happy reading!