Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s round up of all the latest news from the world of children’s books. It’s been another busy week with interviews, end of year books lists and still more events to get involved with. Many congratulations to Phil Earle who was awarded The Times Children’s Book of the Year this week for When the Sky Falls. So well deserved and this is definitely one of my stand out books of the year.

What I’m reading…

The countdown to Christmas has now officially started in our house so this week I turned my attention to some new children’s books that have a festive theme, a new picture book from John Agee, debuts by Mel-Taylor Bessent and Alexandra Page and the return of Alex Smith’s gorgeous Winston the mouse. I hope the selection I have highlighted will appeal to the young readers in your life.

Group Hug by Jean Reidy and Joey Chou is a jolly picture book encouraging acceptance and kindness published by Scallywag Press. A read aloud in rhyme that includes a selection of animals such as a slug, a porcupine & a scary bear that may not at first seem ‘huggable’, it is a book full of snuggles and smiles.

Well, initially I was sceptical but I shouldn’t have been. The Brill Kid: The Big Number 2 by Andy Cope, Gavin Oattes and Will Hussey illustrated by Amy Bradley is full of good advice, tips on learning to cope, positivity & well being. There’s humour, (lots of it) activities and stories. It’s useful guide to complex stuff for children and would be useful in schools for PSHE. The publishers, Capstone, are running a competition on Twitter to win a class set at the moment which you may be interested in.

At the moment I am reading Untwisted: the stories of my life, the memoir by children’s author Paul Jennings. This is a book I had intended to read for many months but it had slipped down the pile, I don’t know why. Nikki Gamble’s Audience With this week had prompted me to try it and I am finding it fascinating. Following Thursday’s event I can now hear Paul’s gentle voice as I read which is adding to my enjoyment.

News, articles and resources…

Love My Books December Newsletter – the latest newsletter from this helpful website created by children’s literacy specialists is full of useful information and activities. It in Top 10 new picture books, Stories for Winter days, Favourite Christmas reads, and celebrating a wonderful year for Lovemybooks patron Michael Rosen.

Nikki Gamble In the Reading Corner with the creators of Leah’s Star – This picture book is a wonderful retelling of the nativity story. First published in 2009, Nikki asked Margaret Bateson-Hill and Karin Littlewood what was important to them in this retelling. This is a lovely and enlightening discussion and I can also wholeheartedly recommend Leah’s Star which I reviewed here.

The Booklings Interview Author Tom Huddleston – School librarian Lucas Maxwell runs a book club at his school and recently the Booklings, sat down with author Tom Huddleston
to discuss his Floodworld series, climate change & more. You can listen to the interview via the link above.

Books for Christmas Gifts 2021 – book blogger Veronica Price has some lovely suggestions for Christmas presents including fiction, information titles, Christmas themed books and translated stories.

Dean Boddington’s No Shelf Control November Newsletter – a Q&A with Ross Montgomery, favourite new Christmas reads and lots of reviews. Free to download and share. Thank you, Dean.

Best of 2021: Our Favorite Picture Books – Kirkus Reviews’ annual selection is always worth a browse and this year’s choices are brought to us by new young readers’ editor Summer Edward. I was pleased to see Maxine Beneba Clarke’s When We Say Black Lives Matter which I reviewed for TLS this year included. The Best Picture Books lists in different categories can be found here and include wordless books, those featuring families, those about crossing borders and those for starting conversations. A real treasure trove and worth exploring.

World Kid Lit November web round-up – this monthly round-up of news and new books translated into English contains plenty of ideas for gifts too. A useful resource to keep for reference.

40 Multicultural Children’s Books about Christmas – librarian Zoe Dixon shared this selection online this week and although it is from 2016 it would be a useful starting point if you are looking to build a collection of diverse books for Christmas. If you follow @Zoe_Dixon on Twitter she also shared a thread with some more recent suggestions.

The Reading Agency Books of the Year List – Members of the Reading Agency team have picked the children’s book that stood out to them and shared a few words on why they loved it. This is an interesting selection.

The Reader Teacher November 2021 Monthly Must Reads – another great selection from Scott Evans. I have a copy of Black and British: An Illustrated History by David Olusoga and it would be on my list too. His other choices are high on my ever increasing wish list.

Chronic under-investment in school libraries is harming life chances – an excellent article by Jonathan Douglas of the Literacy Trust highlighting the role of the school library in ‘building back better.’ There is a link to the free library training providing by the Literacy Trust in the article too.

Christmas 2021 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About | Festive Favourites – another helpful resource from the Reader Teacher, Scott Evans. This month’s Christmas offerings include both picture books and fiction. I do like the sound of Rob Biddulph’s An Odd Dog Christmas.

Game Changers – FREE Phil Earle webinar – Do you work with excluded students or students at risk of exclusion? ThisNational Literacy Trust event is a free taster for their Game Changers programme – a 20-session reading intervention which includes lesson resources, books and author events. The webinar will take place from 9.30-10.15am on Thursday 9 December, registration via the link above.

Christmas in Fiction: Arctic Star by Tom Palmer – the ever helpful Tom Palmer has put together a range of Christmas resources linked to his excellent WW2 drama, Arctic Star. There is a video, a poetry challenge and the opportunity to discover how the brave young sailors on the Arctic convoys spent their Christmas. One chapter of the book is available to download too. More details via the link.

The New Tove Jansson Website – a must for all Moomin lovers this new website celebrates the life and work of Moomin creator, multi-talented artist Tove Jansson and offers a unique collection of images and stories with illuminating biographical detail never before shared online in one place.

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

The Big Freeze by Pippa Curnick – a review with a difference. Rachel on Bellis Does Books features a craft activity linked to this chilly and appealing picture book. A make your own jumper idea that would be lovely to link with Christmas Jumper Day on 10th December.

The Secret of Splint Hall by Katie Cotton – a debut due to be published in March 2022, this sounds great. Tom Griffiths says, “An absolute page-turner filled with surprises, strong female protagonists and a fiery adventure.” One to watch out for next year.

Christmas Craft Book by Laura Minter & Tia Williams – if you are looking for ideas for things to make with children in the build up to Christmas this sounds just right. From painting and sticking to cooking and sewing there’s a wide variety and you may even create some long lasting decorations. This helpful review on the StorySnug blog includes a video trailer and more details.

That’s all for this week and I hope you have found this collection helpful.

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2 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for including the link to my post amongst all of these other fantastic book recommendations Anne. My trip into town will have to include some book shopping later 😊 I hope you have a lovely weekend.


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