Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this week’s round up of all the latest news from the world of children’s books and as we enter the half term break I hope that all those working in education enjoy a well earned rest and with luck some time to read and relax.

What I’m reading…


When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler is an outstanding and powerful book. Days after I finished reading this I am still thinking about it; a compelling, heartbreaking story, it is also one that highlights the importance of friendship, hope and love and those seemingly tiny moments that can in reality make a huge difference. Here’s my review for Just Imagine, it is a book I would highly recommend for teens and adults alike.

I am a long standing fan of Barrington Stoke, they are publishers who really do make a difference to children. Swan Song by Gill Lewis is an excellent example of their books. A thoughtful and sensitively written story which highlights the power of nature to restore and heal troubled minds, something we have all be made more acutely aware of over the last year.



News, articles and resources…

10 children’s books that will take kids on a journey – children may be stuck at home, but they can escape to the Amazon, Himalayas or New York via these magical tales chosen by children’s author Piers Torday. As a confirmed map lover I am particularly tempted by Prisoners of Geography: Our World Explained in 12 Simple Maps.

What can we do with books? by Michael Rosen – I love this. Our former Children’s Laureate shares ideas for book chat with children, searching for links and ‘secret strings’ and how to become a ‘story detective’.

Picturebook Biographies… The Power of a Story – Simon Smith, Head Teacher and picturebook enthusiast always recommends books that are that little bit different and special. This selection would be valuable additions to school classrooms and libraries as part of the curriculum.

Librarians flourish in lockdown with roll out of digital community activities – an interesting article in The Bookseller about the role of school and public librarians during the pandemic; “The government, local authorities and heads of schools have recognised the value of librarians since the first lockdown, according to representatives of library associations. Some warn, however, about school librarians being reassigned to new tasks.”

Picture books for children – reviews – a lovely selection by Imogen Carter for the Guardian; “From bonding over bees and a deft exploration of race to a lipstick-loving toddler, the latest illustrated stories are a joy

Guide to World Book Day Primary School Pack – the organisers of World Book Day have produced this pack of ideas, tips, facts, a timeline to help you prepare and information about their digital events. It’s definitely worth downloading this guide via the link above. A couple of days later this was followed by the Secondary School Pack containing plenty more ideas to inspire.

A Night with Knights Of – this event last month hosted by the Reading Agency was great and they have now made a recording of it available. Publisher of diverse and inclusive books for children, Knights Of, chats with some of their award-winning, boundary-breaking children’s authors and illustrators about their work and the landscape of children’s publishing. The panel includes authors Sharna Jackson, Elle McNicoll and Gabrielle Kent, and illustrator Kay Wilson. Recommended!

Love My Books February Newsletter – in case you have missed this here is the latest newsletter featuring new books and activity pages, Top 10 illustrated novels, how to make an animal ears book, Lovemybooks & lockdown, keeping in touch through stories & more. This is useful for families and teachers and is full of lots of great ideas.

Books for Topics: First Chapter Books – This collection of books – with colour illustrations, shorter length and clear formatting – has been handpicked with those readers in mind who need something to bridge the gap between reading scheme books and lengthier chapter books.

Teaching resources linked to books by Lisa Thompson – these are free to download and would be useful for teachers, librarians or for home educators. Titles include The Goldfish Boy, Owen and the Soldier and The House of Clouds.

Longlist announced for the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize – Ghosts, gardens, nudity and love: twenty debut picture books in the running for the illustration prize that highlights outstanding newcomers. Established in 2016, the Klaus Flugge Prize is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. I’m looking forward to exploring the list further.

Open University Reading for Pleasure: News and Awards – during a Twitter conversation this week I was reminded of this helpful resource so am sharing it again. If you scroll down below the news section there is a comprehensive collection of links to many different children’s book awards and this is well worth bookmarking for future reference.

Online resources for school librarians during lockdown & beyond – a fabulous and extremely comprehensive list of resources on the CILIP Scotland website compiled by Markie DeLeavey from Glasgow School Libraries. No doubt these would be useful to others in education too.  

The Old Truck by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey: A Walk Through with Mat Tobin – during the week Mat Tobin, lecturer in Primary Education and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes University, guided us through this lovely picture book on Twitter. Mat has recreated the conversation in this excellent and insightful blogpost which captures how this book works and conveys some of its detail. I need a copy of the book now!

Anne Frank Trust: Interview with Author Tom Palmer – On Thursday 4th March, to celebrate World Book Day 2021 The Anne Frank Trust are holding an interactive online event for Primary School students aged 9 and up with award winning children’s author, Tom Palmer. The event is free but you need to register via the link.

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

Into the Wild written by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Mel Armstrong – a picture book that “celebrates the wonder of nature and the comfort of finding someone special to share your precious moments with.” says Veronica Price. This sounds beautiful and Veronica has also included a link to some helpful teaching notes to use with the book.

The Ladybird Big Book of Slimy Things by Imogen Russell Williams illustrated by Binny Talib – more nature but this time slimy creatures, slimy things, living slime and slime made by plants or creatures, including humans. Presented in an appealing comic strip style this was Book Trust Book of the Day on Tuesday and this review explains why.

When We Got Lost In Dreamland by Ross Welford – reading this review by Louise Nettleton it was the emphasis on the character of Malky that struck me, “It is wonderful to see boys – and especially the kind of boys who are too often stereotyped as trouble – portrayed with sensitivity and thought.” I agree and want to read this.

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethel illustrated by Saara Soderland – I have been trying to avoid reading reviews of this book as it’s next up on my own reading pile but this is a lovely one by Stephen Connor for Just Imagine, and no big spoilers either.

That’s everything for this week. I hope it’s useful, enjoyable or a bit of a distraction. Happy half term to everyone. Don’t forget to look out for the announcement of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway long lists on 18th February!

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5 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you Anne, such a joy to take a break from writing a seminar paper and read your wonderful blog post. I’m sharing it with my ex-school colleagues who I know will find many of your links very useful. I hope you have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bvalentini says:

    Thank you for this! Such a goldmine of information to spread and deepen knowledge and passion for children’s literature! One to return to often, to explore further. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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