It’s been another busy week! I have been involved in book related events, both online and real life ones, so I hope that I have managed to catch enough of what has been happening to give you a taste of the best new books, the most important news and any interesting features.
What I’m reading…
There were a couple of children’s book highlights for me this week that didn’t actually involve reading. On Tuesday the Surrey branch of the School Library Association held our first in person meeting for two years. It was so good to be able to chat and exchange ideas informally again. An added bonus was the opportunity to hear our excellent speaker Joy Court talk about visual literacy. Joy shared important research, the updated Kate Greenaway Medal criteria and we looked at some fabulous picture books together. On Thursday I attended, online, An Audience with Professor Ben Garrod hosted by Nikki Gamble. This was fascinating and I was particularly struck by Ben’s comments about respecting his audience. Although I have only read Trilobite this respect comes across strongly as does the author’s engaging voice. I now want to read more of his books.
To mark National Non-Fiction November I’m highlighting some top new titles each week. I can wholeheartedly recommend some new perfect non-fiction books published by b small, one on a scientific theme and the other historical, they are both excellent. Shadow Town by Richard Lambert was selected by Nicolette Jones as “one to watch” in the Sunday Times this week and having now finished reading this epic fantasy adventure I can well understand why. I hope to have my review up on the blog over the next few days.
News, articles and resources…
Tom Palmer’s Remembrance Day Resources – for any teachers having a last minute worry about how to mark Remembrance Day, award winning author Tom Palmer has come to your rescue. His comprehensive resources are brilliant. The link above will take you to a home page with a link to a free assembly but you can also find activities, videos and teaching notes linked to his books on his website. I would highly recommend having a browse.
The National Literacy Trust launch new Primary School Library Alliance with partner Penguin Random House UK – 1 in 8 primary schools in the UK do not have a library despite their important contribution to children’s learning and well-being. This shocking statistic is sobering but not surprising to those of us who have been involved in school libraries for many years. This new initiative is calling for large-scale public and private funding, alongside collaboration from other charities, publishers and ambassadors, to transform and equip 1,000 primary school libraries by 2025. This is extremely welcome news.
Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) Reflecting Realities Report 2021 – this is vital reading for anyone involved with children’s books in any capacity. 15% of the children’s picturebooks, fiction and non-fiction titles published in 2020 featured characters of colour. That’s compared to 10% in 2019, 7% in 2018 and 4% in 2017. We can see that progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. The details in the report make for interesting reading regarding the trends in different genres. For example the percentage for fiction in 2020 has remained the same as 2019. A subject for further discussion.
Report shows fourfold rise in minority ethnic characters in UK children’s books – an article in the Guardian discussing the findings of the Reflecting Realities report.
Reflecting Realities: Book Suggestions for Early Years to Lower Key Stage 2 – this is a helpful post by Jo Cummins in which she recommends a range of recently published books reflecting varied ethnicities suitable for this age group. I’m pleased to see some of my favourites published by Alanna Max Books and Tiny Owl publishing too.
Outside In World: Children’s Books in Translation – news this week about two new partnerships for Outside in World who explore, promote and celebrate children’s books from around the world in translation to English. The University of Portsmouth has acquired the OIW Collection of Children’s Books in Translation, making this unique collection of 1,600 titles available to the public for the very first time. In addition funding has been made available to allow the first in depth study of this field. Full details are available via the link to their official website above.
Empathy Check in Month – EmpathyLabUK has declared November ‘Empathy Check-In month’ in celebration of the publication of Michael Rosen’s StickyMcStickStick this week. There is a special video from Michael Rosen as inspiration for children to revisit the Empathy Walks and subsequent Empathy Resolutions they made on Empathy Day in June 2021.
Beyond Black History Month – Integrating the Study of Black Historical Figures into the Mainstream Primary Curriculum through Literature – Black History Month may now be over but in this excellent blogpost Farrah Serroukh, CLPE Learning Programme Leader asks how can we ensure that these conversations are not just confined to October.
Britannica Magazine – Launch Offer – What on Earth Books and Britannica Books, two award-winning children’s non-fiction imprints, have teamed up with the all new monthly Britannica Magazine to make schools a special offer. By spreading the word about this new monthly magazine for 7-12 year olds schools get the chance up to acquire wonderful new non-fiction books. You can find out more about the offer via the link and get a preview of the magazine.
Children’s Books That Promote Environmental Sustainability – this week saw the world’s leaders come together for the COP26 summit and this wonderful selection of books on the Books for Topics website is therefore timely. All are recommended by children’s book experts, librarians and teachers and they are suitable for a wide age range.
The Reader Teacher November Books I’m Most Excited About – each month teacher Scott Evans compiles a video giving a taste of the new books coming out soon. This month’s selection includes Sisters of the Lost Marsh by Lucy Strange reviewed below and Saving Celeste by Timothée de Fombelle and Sarah Ardizzone which sounds intriguing and has a beautiful cover by one of my favourite illustrators, Richard Jones.
Coram Beanstalk: Find out what we do sessions for schools – this reading charity are offering education professionals the opportunity to join them for a free online webinar to find out how they can support schools in further increasing reading attainment, confidence and well-being. You can find out more and sign up for one of the sessions via the link above.
Book Trust New Books We Love This Month – the selection chosen by the Book Trust team includes books for early years, picture books, information books, fiction and graphic novels, so from toddlers to teens there is something for everyone.
SLA Information Book Award Presentation Evening 2021 – The School Library Association Information Book Awards honour the best of the best of information books for children. The Shortlist covers three age categories: Age 7 and under, 8 to 12 and 13 to 16, and the presentation evening takes place online 7:00 – 8:00 Thursday 25th November. Tickets are free and can be booked via the link above.
Barrington Stoke Teacher’s Evening – regular readers of the blog will know how highly I rate these publishers. If you are new to their range and not sure where to start or would like to find out more about using their books in your school they have organised a free online event for school librarians and teachers. It takes place on Tue 16th Nov at 6.15pm with special guest, author Ross Montgomery. Booking available via the link above.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani Larocca and Archana Sreenivasan
Abrams – A child, mother, and grandmother travel all the way to the end of the earth in this picture book that celebrates multigenerational love. This lovely review by Jill Bennett also includes a look at some of the wonderful illustrations. I like both the sound and the look of this one.
The World Book by Joe Fullmann and Rose Blake – another non-fiction title and Nicki Cleveland has stressed in her review how popular this book is with the children in her school. That’s always the best guide! A book that takes a tour of every country in the world incorporating language, flags, cuisine, statistics, wildlife and much more.
It’s Her Story: Dolly Parton by Emily Skwish illustrated by Lidia Fernandez – selected as LoveReading4Kids Graphic Novel of the Month for November this book is a good introduction to one of our most generous singing superstars.
The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery – this is a Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2021 on LoveReading4Kids and has been recommended widely online. “The many layers of Ross Montomery’s adventure and the powerfully imagined challenges he has dreamt up sends readers on an adventure that matches any computer game for jeopardy and nerve-wracking thrills.” It sounds like a book with a wide appeal.
Sisters of the Lost Marsh by Lucy Strange – a secret library, links to folklore and superstition all sound like a perfect combination for a dark winter’s evening read. An inviting review by Rich Simpson has whetted my appetite for this new book by the winner of the Historical Association Young Quills Award 2021
Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds – I always enjoy reviews written by Ben Harris as they provide a ‘feel’ of what the book is like without giving away the plot. This is an excellent example. Ben does say that this is, “absolute gem of a book from a double-act that I hope will produce much, much more.”
That’s all for this week and there is rather a lot to get through. I hope it is helpful or interesting to you.