Welcome to the first Reading Matters of the new school year. I hope everyone has enjoyed a good summer however you spent the time and that those working in education enjoyed a well earned rest. The start of the new school year often generates enthusiasm for new challenges and commitments. Perhaps you are new to the joys of reading children’s books and reading for pleasure, if so I hope that Reading Matters will be helpful.
If you have not visited the blog before Reading Matters is a weekly round up of the latest news from the world of children’s books. It includes a look at my own recent reads, useful resources and events and a small selection of reviews for different age groups.
What I’m reading…
Since the last Reading Matters round up I have read several children’s books and also a few adult fiction and non fiction titles too. Earlier this week I posted a summer reading round up of some of my favourite books suitable for children and teens. If you don’t have time to plough through that I would like to highlight three in particular. Firstly Black and British: A Short Essential History by David Olusoga, the revised edition for teens, which is a must have for secondary schools. Turning to fiction both Julia and the Shark and Hide and Seek are among my favourite books of the year so far.
This week a beautiful picture book was published which explores a part of the countryside many of us take for granted. The Happy Hedgerow will encourage children to protect this important natural environment. There’s a link to some great teaching resources from Hedge Link in my review.
Nikki Gamble’s new season of “An Audience With” started this week and we were treated to a fascinating interview with Jane Ray. I have long been an admirer of Jane’s work and it was a privilege to see her sketchbooks and childhood stories featuring Mr Teddy. A lovely, engaging person whose work has had a profound impact on both children and adults. I’m looking forward to the book club discussion next week. If you have not already signed up do look out for single event tickets as they are thoroughly enjoyable evenings featuring the cream of children’s literature.
News, articles and resources…
Miss P’s Literacy Calendar 2021-2021 – created by teacher Sadie Phillips, this fabulous resource is perfect for planning ahead for the coming year and for keeping up to date with all the book awards, events and key dates. A comprehensive guide to everything related to children’s books this includes links and full details. It must take an enormous amount of time and effort to prepare. Thank you very much, Sadie.
Historical Association Young Quills 2021 shortlist – these annual awards for best historical fiction for young people highlight some fabulous books and this year includes some of my recent favourites. I’m particularly delighted to see After the War by Tom Palmer in the age 10 – 13 years category.
Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – Another fantastic round up by Imogen Russell Williams of the best new picture books and children’s novels for the Guardian. Lovely to see The Book Cat included and I’ve added My Beautiful Voice to my wish list.
September is World Kid Lit Month – this month sees this annual celebration and promotion of world literature for children. We have the chance to explore the world through books for children and teens. Where will you travel to by book? This helpful website includes book lists, links to books by country and information about translated texts. There is a special section highlighting resources for libraries.
The Diverse Book Awards 2021 Longlists – over the summer the long lists for these awards established in 2019 were announced. There are three categories, Children’s, Young Adult and Adult and the Shortlist will be announced on 20th September.
Reading is Magic Festival – this virtual event returns this year with a wonderful array of authors and illustrators suitable for a wide age range. It takes place 27Sept – 1 Oct.
Nine essential books on Black British history – author Jeffrey Boakye shares nine essential books for children learning about Black British history on the Book Trust website.
ReadingZone Bookclub – free author events – the ReadingZone Bookclub programme of free virtual author events is aimed at classrooms and libraries that are keen to develop a love of reading. Events are suitable for ages 5-11 years and this term authors include Abie Longstaff, Catherine Johnson, Alistair Chisholm and Vashti Hardy.
The School Library: Re-launching after Covid – this is a supportive and thoughtful article on the School Library Association blog that will be helpful for school librarians. It tackles everything from conversations with SLT to rekindling enthusiasm for the library after a lengthy break from normal use.
Benefits of Reading for Pleasure – school librarian Lucas Maxwell has created a presentation on the theme of reading for pleasure incorporating research findings. He has generously shared this and it would be excellent for staff meetings, INSET etc. A big thank you to Lucas for his generosity and congratulations on being appointed one of the Costa Children’s Book Award judges.
Year 7 & 8 Recommended Reads 2021 -2021 – teacher Alice Visser-Furay has created this mammoth list with several different categories, including graphic and verse novels, a balance between new recommendations and old favourites. Alice’s blog is well worth a browse too as it is full of excellent links and resources. I have just discovered another list for Years 5,6 and 7! Link here.
SLA Information Book Award Schools’ Collaboration – Join in with this year’s Information Book Award and you could receive a collection of the shortlisted titles! SLA will provide the books, all you have to do is share your experience of using them. But hurry, this opportunity is only available until 15th September!
The Reader Teacher September 2021 Coming Soon Video – each month Scott Evans creates a video of the new children’s books he is most excited about. September is an incredibly busy month for publications so this is useful.
Children and Young People’s September Booklist: Back to School! – The Reading Agency have created a booklist for all children, from nursey school age through to secondary students, related to school. There are novels about lab experiments gone wrong and teenage romance, as well as books about friendship, fitting in and being brave.
Introducing “Once upon a Tune” by James Mayhew – I am very much looking forward to the publication of this special book on 9th September. Anyone who has been lucky enough to attend one of James Mayhew’s concerts will know what a joy they are. He has produced a series of videos introducing the stories from the book. They are all wonderful and the link above takes you to the first of them, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Love My Books – this site contains a wealth of free resources linked to wonderful children’s books. It is for parents, carers, teachers, schools, and early years staff, created by literacy experts. Free and ad free with over 250 activity pages full of creative book-based ideas. Definitely worth a browse!
Book Trust: New Children’s Books We Love – the choices for September include nonfiction, picture books and fiction for different age groups.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye…
We’re Going to Find the Monster by Malorie Blackman, illus by Dapo Adeola – I always find Fabia Turner’s reviews helpful and this new picture book sounds like a must have for primary schools. “Celebrating the everyday life of a contemporary Black family and the awesomeness of children’s imaginations, this layered, funny, highly relatable story has been deservedly revived by an epic creative team.”
How Was That Built? written by Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey – an excellent and comprehensive review by Veronica Price of a non fiction book being published on 16th September. A detailed look at construction and engineering Veronica says, “I would urge all schools to get hold of a copy of this book. It answers so many of the questions that curious children ask and I can imagine it being hugely popular with the group of children who prefer non-fiction to fiction.”
Edie and the Box of Flits by Kate Wilkinson – this review by teacher Paul Watson has highlighted a book that I knew nothing about but now very much want to read. It sounds perfect for lovers of The Borrowers or The Minpins. “Kate Wilkinson has taken a well-trodden route and come up with a fresh new tale.”
Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve – a fabulous review on the Bookbag website of this new book by Philip Reeve published this month. It is, according to John Lloyd, “In a word, rich.”
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – this is the prequel to the much acclaimed The Hate You Give. In her review for Just Imagine Laura Ovenden says, “In Concrete Rose Thomas writes from the male perspective and succeeds spectacularly.” This sounds like another excellent title for secondary school age readers.
That’s everything for this week and I hope it’s useful. Good luck to those returning to or starting school over the coming days. I hope this new term is a successful and happy one.