Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. I feel that I say this every week but there has been a great deal happening with award announcements, important research and articles plus of course lots of great new books. So although there are a lot of links here I hope that it will be worth making time to explore them further.

What I’m reading

Last week I mentioned The Three Impossibles by Susie Bower and the interesting interview with Nikki Gamble and last weekend I finished reading this lovely story. You can read my review to find out why I liked it so much. I think it would appeal to fans of Abi Elphinstone’s books.

Over the last few days I have been reading and reviewing books for the School Library Association journal, The School Librarian (TLS). Reviews have to be short which I sometimes find tricky when a book warrants a longer discussion. One picturebook amongst my selection was When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke and luckily it was reviewed on the Lily and the Fae blog this week so I have included it below.

At the moment I am reading How to Be Brave by Daisy May Johnson and finding it endearingly eccentric. Having followed Daisy since I joined Twitter nine years ago it’s a delight to see her love of children’s school stories culminating in her producing one that will have a new generation of readers trying to pack their trunks and join in the fun.

News, articles and resources

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – another wonderful selection of the latest books reviewed by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian and it’s lovely to see Nen and the Lonely Fisherman and The Secret Detectives included. There are even more titles added to my wish list now too.

International Board on Books for a Young People Interview with Greet Pauwelijn founder of Book Island – this is a fascinating interview with Greet and an insight into both picture books and children’s literature in translation.

Libraries are at the forefront of combatting loneliness and inequality – not strictly speaking a children’s books article but nonetheless we all know how important public libraries are in providing access and encouragement to young readers so I have included it. Pamela Tulloch chief executive at the Scottish Library and Information Council highlights their importance in this article for Big Issue.

Chapter Book Round-Up: 10 You Might Have Missed – another helpful collection from Alison at Books for Topics. A good range from books suitable for those just venturing into reading chapter books to thought provoking reads for children in Year 6.

A Year of Reading Activities: How this primary school put the love back into its library – read how assistant headteacher Deborah Texeira encouraged children at her primary school to develop a habit of reading for pleasure with a revamped library, a whole year’s worth of fun reading activities and author visits.

Literacy Hive – a comprehensive library of the programmes and resources available to inspire young writers, support individual readers and promote whole school reading for pleasure. This website has a search facility to enable you find suitable resources and is suitable for both primary and secondary.

Lit in Colour: Diversity in Colour in English Schools – The 35-page report forms part of the Lit in Colour campaign launched last year by Penguin Random House (PRH) and the Runnymede Trust. Published this week it has “the aim to find innovative and practical ways to give schools the support and tools they need to introduce more books by people of colour into the classroom for all ages.” An important read for everyone involved with children’s books. You can watch Benjamin Zephaniah being interviewed about the report for BBC News here.

Best Books for our Time – Caroline Bradley of Just Imagine looks at books suitable for our present situation as we look to the future and the need to support children’s well being. She also suggests some titles for Year 6 in the final weeks of this academic year.

Young adult books round-up – review – Fiona Noble reviews the latest books for teens including the second novel by Manjeet Mann and some funny books ideal for the summer holidays.

100 best children’s books from the last 100 years – chosen by the team at Book Trust these lists are broken down into four age groups. There’s a quiz to check how many you have read. Are your favourites included?

The Reader Teacher Monthly Must Reads for June – Scott Evans has chosen his favourite reads for the last month, including the wonderful When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle. You can read Scott’s reviews and download a free poster.

A Summer Reading List for KS3: Readers aged 11-13 – super school librarian Lucas Maxwell has used his considerable experience to compile a list that is suitable for a wide range of interests and reading abilities. It would be useful for Year 6 too.

The Song That Sings Us: Cover Reveal – this is a treat to look forward to. The new novel by Nicola Davies will be published in October with a cover featuring art by Jackie Morris. Simon on the Family Bookworms blog provides us with a taste of what to expect including a video of Nicola Davies reading an extract.

Book Blast with Nikki Gamble Monday 7th July 7pm – a twenty minute breeze through the best books of the month plus an opportunity to chat and share. This sounds great fun and a good way of keeping up to date with the latest books.

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winners 2021 – on Thursday it was announced that Elle McNicoll’s A Kind of Spark is the Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021. The Best Illustrated Book Winner is The Grumpy Fairies by Bethan Stevans and the Best Book for Older Readers is Wranglestone by Darren Charlton. Congratulations to all the winners. You can read articles by winners via the link.

Children’s Book Show – this arts funded charity is returning to live theatres this autumn with a fabulous programme of authors, poets and illustrators appearing across the country. The line up includes Michael Rosen and Valerie Bloom plus Catherine Rayner and Jo Empson. It also has an international flavour with visits from Sydney Smith and Kwame Alexander. Funding has also allowed for every child attending the events to receive a free book. There are also in school workshops available. Please follow the link above to find out more.

The 2021 UKLA Award Winners Announced – The 2021 UKLA Awards are the only national awards judged by class teachers. This year saw the first ever joint winners for the 11-14+ category, UK #OwnVoices debut authors win two categories and the entire judging process, including the winning ceremony, conducted virtually. Find out who won via the link!

The Reader Teacher Coming Soon Video – June has whizzed by and here we are again with Scott Evans’ round up of the books he is recommending for the coming month.

2 months to go: get ready to celebrate #WorldKidLitMonth in your school – some ideas for teachers and educators of how you could celebrate translation and global reading in your school community this September. This is great resource with links to all manner of creative ideas to enjoy translated stories and global fiction.

Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week

When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke – this is a valuable picture book for many reasons and this detailed review provides a snapshot of both the poem and the illustrations within its pages and the reasons it should be in schools and homes.

Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A Reynolds, illustrated by Pablo Leon – graphic novels are growing in popularity and reading this review by Fabia on Candid Cocoa it is easy to understand why. She says this new book is, “the perfect way into graphic novels for children in KS2 this thrilling, superhero adventure will be enjoyed by middle-grade readers everywhere”

SkyWake Invasion by Jamie Russell – there has been a real buzz online about this new sci-fi novel and this review on the This Book is Brilliant blog captures the enthusiasm shown by those who have read it already. “The writing in SkyWake is awesome! It’s fast-paced and exciting, and had us racing through the chapters so we could find out what happened next.” There is also a guest post from author Jamie Russell about the inspiration for this new series.

Phew! That’s it for this week, I think. I hope it has been helpful.

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