Reading Matters – children’s book news

Hello and welcome to this look back at some of the latest news from the world of children’s books. This week has been dominated by the World Book Day celebrations and the ways in which schools and libraries have adapted to the current restrictions has been impressive and heartening. The day is really all about inspiring children to love reading and encouraging families to share stories and it is interesting to read about what the day achieved last year in this impact report. As children return to school on Monday I imagine that this weekend will be one of both anticipation and concerns and I hope that something in this week’s round up of news provides a distraction or is of help.

What I’m reading…

It is never too early to introduce children to books and I read and reviewed a perfect picture book for the youngest of our readers this week. Zeki Loves Mummy by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson tells the story of a baby’s typical day and is full of joy and love and I would highly recommend it for both families and Early Years settings.

During a chat about reading last weekend I said that I enjoyed reading because there is always a book suitable for every occasion or every mood and this week I fancied an escape. Circus Maximus:Race to the Death fitted the bill perfectly. A children’s book debut by Annelise Gray I found this exciting story hugely enjoyable and Dido the lead protagonist a fabulous heroine. Highly recommended particularly for horse lovers and fans of historical fiction but this, I think, has a wide appeal. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

News, articles and resources…

Children’s books roundup: the best new picture books and novels – another wonderful selection chosen by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian. I was delighted to see Space Detectives by Mark Powers illustrated by Dapo Adeola included as I think this book will encourage new readers to develop the reading habit, a glorious mix of humour and adventure.

Free Resource: Digital Library – this is brilliant and although created with World Book Day in mind it will be a valuable resource any time. There are several versions that can be used all across primary and KS3. Click on a book and it will take you to a YouTube reading of it. Huge thanks to Steph @eenalol for creating this it must have taken ages!

Celebrating Science Children’s Book List – British Science Week takes place 5th-14th March and this helpful list on the Books for Topics website includes books that examine key scientific concepts as well as stories that explore scientific thinking & highlight famous (& not-so-famous) scientists.

Five Picture Books About the Wonders of Science – still on the science theme, award winning author Nicola Davies has selected some beautiful picture books that will spark an interest and offer a route into science for young readers.

Book Clubs in Schools – Book Clubs in Schools (BCiS) takes the normal book club model and makes it suitable for schools, both primary and secondary. Book Clubbers read the same book, then discuss it in small weekly book clubs held during school time, facilitated by Book Club Leaders, who are older pupils. At the moment they are also running Mini Book Club at Home. There are more details via the website link above.

As if by magic, Mr Benn first appeared on our screens 50 years ago – and he’s still as popular as ever – how is it possible Mr Benn is 50? This is a lovely article in which his creator David McKee discusses this iconic character.

Books to develop insight into the culture, people and history of Wales – published to mark St David’s Day earlier this week this is an excellent and comprehensive post providing recommendations for different year groups and suggestions for activities too. Some of my recent favourite titles are included and I have added yet to more to my ‘want to read list’.

The Story of Reading During Lockdown – The World Book Day charity has brought together the UK’s leading reading and educational charities – BookTrust, CLPE, National Literacy Trust, and The Reading Agency – and the leading children’s publisher Egmont, as well as Nielsen Books, in a collaboration providing insights into the impact of the last year on reading for pleasure, and children’s life chances. This provides a comprehensive overview highlighting both the positives and areas of concern and would be a useful reference for discussion regarding the role of reading for pleasure in the future.


“Libraries changed my life”: Author Kelly Yang on the mysterious power of reading – I love this article for Book Trust as it highlights the many different ways in which school libraries can make a difference to a child including the idea of it as a ‘sanctuary’, an often forgotten yet important aspect.

New Children’s Books that Book Trust Love – Every month the Book Trust team review dozens of books for children and teenagers. Here are the ones they liked best in March: guaranteed to get your child reading.

YA Book Prize 2021 Shortlist Announced – The YA Book Prize launched in 2014 to award a YA title written by an author living in the UK or Ireland. It is the first prize in the UK and Ireland to specifically focus on fiction for young adults and addresses an important need for a prize in the growing YA and teen market. Among the books on the shortlist are Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle and The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff.

Get Everyone Reading by Alec Williams: Free publication from SLA – This publication is free for all schools to download, and is a ‘primer’ for how to go about encouraging reading for pleasure in your school. The two appendices include an ‘Ideas Bank’ and a list of reading celebrations throughout the year, so you can discover more ways and more days to continue encouraging reading for pleasure.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2021 Winners Announced – The winners were announced during a special edition of Blue Peter on World Book Day, Thursday 4 March 2021. The award for Best Story was awarded to A Kind of Spark, the brilliant debut novelby Elle McNicoll. The award for Best Book with Facts went to Mike Barfield and illustrator Jess Bradley’s hilarious book,  A Day In The Life Of A Poo, A Gnu And You.

School Libraries Group Virtual National Conference 2021: Shaping Their Futures – The SLG Conference is the key professional development opportunity for School Librarians in the U.K. After this challenging year for School Librarians SLG’s Conference will provide an opportunity to come together to explore how we move forward. ‘Shaping Their Futures’ will include keynotes on ‘Children Reading for Pleasure Research’ ‘The Black Curriculum’ The Future of Education’ and ‘Reading for Information and Learning’ plus seminars, brilliant authors slots and much more! The conference takes place from 30/04/2021 to 02/05/2021

Children and Young People’s Book List: Wonder Women – March is Women’s History Month, so the Reading Agency have created a booklist to celebrate some of our favourite stories about inspirational girls and women or fantastic books written by them. You can join in with the conversation online using #WonderWomenBooklist on Twitter

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

What Did the Tree See? Charlotte Guillain (text) & Sam Usher (artwork) – I have seen pictures of this lovely picture book shared online so caught up with this post on the Library Mice blog earlier this week. The comments by both Melanie McGilloway and Charlotte Guilain are interesting and I enjoyed the glimpse of Sam Usher’s illustrations. There is also a trailer and a link to resources. This sounds like a perfect book to encourage children to think and investigate.

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat – selected as a debut of the month on the LoveReading4Kids website Joy Court describes this book as “such a rewarding, positive and inclusive read that it deserves a place in every school and in every home.” One for shopping lists then!

Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll – A Kind of Spark, Elle McNicoll’s debut novel last year, attracted a great deal of attention and positive reviews, also winning the Blue Peter Book Award this week, so following it was always going to be a daunting task, I imagine. However judging by this wonderful review by Ben Harris, Show Us Who You Are is also an excellent read. I particularly like the way in which Ben has provided questions to think about when reading the book rather than a précis of the plot. I’m very much looking forward to reading this.

Although I’m sure everyone has already watched this wonderful, happy video I wanted to finish with a smile. A great big thank you to Sophie Anderson for the inspiration and Gavin Hetherington for the creation. Happy reading and good luck next week…

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Calmgrove says:

    Thank you again for posting this feature, Anne: even though I’m not the target audience (being neither in primary education nor even still active in the education sector) there’s always something of interest every week — the link to Welsh books for children was very informative, for example — and of course I believe that good literature is always worth seeking out, whatever the age group it’s aimed at!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Your kind comment means a great deal, Chris, thank you. It’s a way of me keeping in touch and pretending that I’m still a librarian even though I’ve now retired. I wondered if you would find the Welsh children’s literature article interesting and I’m delighted that you did. That was one of my favourites this week too.

      Liked by 1 person

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