Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s round up of what has been happening in the world of children’s books. My usual system of collating news on a daily basis fell victim to unforeseen events this week I’m afraid so this is posted today with fingers crossed that I have not missed something vitally important. I do hope that you find this week’s collection helpful.

What I’m reading…


Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a fan of the publishers Barrington Stoke who aim to produce super readable books that enable all children and young people to experience the joy of reading. The classics can be daunting for many as the language, the complexity and the length may be a struggle to overcome. Laura Wood’s accessible adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for Barrington Stoke will ensure that this classic story reaches a new audience.

At the beginning of the week I read the much acclaimed The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros. Everyone raving about this remarkable story was right, it is an affecting and memorable read which although undeniably poignant and even raw at times manages to convey positivity and the depth of love too. Unfortunately my review has not yet been written due to my disrupted week but I’m hoping to post it in the next couple of days.

News, articles and resources…

Make a Miniature Book with Axel Scheffler – join Seven Stories for a very special school event with author and illustrator Axel Scheffler hosted in partnership with the British Library. Wednesday 19th January 2022, 11am Recommended age: Y3, Y4, Y5 & Y6 . Registration is FREE and open to schools anywhere. This sounds lovely and more details are available via the link.

OU Reading for Pleasure: Developing Informal Book Chat with Jon Biddle – In this 2-minute video, Jon Biddle explains how his school encourages informal booktalk. He highlights the need for initial scaffolding and teacher modelling as well as strategies that help to trigger more spontaneous child-led book blether reader to reader.

Which Books Do You Use in Your Year 1 Classroom? – Please can you support this research by Matthew Courtney @mattheweduk exploring representations of ethnic minority groups, LGBTQ+ identities & characters with disabilities in the books used in Year 1 classes. Sharing with other educators will help provide a fuller picture which will add value and make this research useful in the future. For more information and to complete a very quick survey please see the link above.

Literacy Year – thank you to OU Reading for Pleasure for sharing this in their newsletter. Literacy Hive have produced a free online calendar of events, awards, festivals and competitions to help with your literacy planning and encouraging reading for pleasure.

Tamzin Merchant on the Magic of Clothes in Stories – Tamzin Merchant’s debut novel for children, The Hatmakers, is Waterstones’ Book of the Month and in this blog for them she discusses the iconic clothing of children’s literature. I enjoyed reading The Hatmakers and if you want to find out more you may be interested in my review for Just Imagine.

Pulling a White Rabbit Out of a Hat: Interview with Zaro Weil – When Poems Fall From the Sky is one of my favourite recent poetry books for children and this interesting interview on the Reading Realm provides an insight in to Zaro’s creative process.

Branching Out: How to move readers on when they are stuck on a particular series or author – a guest post by Alison Leach of Books for Topics on the Peters website. Recommending books to pupils is key to a school librarian or teacher’s role in supporting reading and Alison has some excellent suggestions.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit Holocaust Memorial Day Event with Michael Morpurgo – another event from Seven Stories The National Centre for Children’s Books. Thursday 27th January 2022, 11am
Recommended age: Y5, Y6, Y7, Y8 and Y9. An opportunity to hear Michael Morpurgo talk about the book and his friendship with Judith Kerr. You will also be able to see childhood drawings and notes from the Seven Stories archive and hear extracts from the book.

Sophia Duleep Singh: Princess and suffragette inspires children’s book – Sufiya Ahmed’s new book, My Story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, for nine to 13-year-olds, has been launched at Ancient House museum in Thetford, Norfolk, which was founded by Sophia’s brother, Frederick Duleep Singh, in 1921. Only last year I discovered this remarkable woman thanks to Bali Rai’s book The Royal Rebel and now want to read this new look at her life.

What To Do When a Teen Tells You They Hate Reading – an excellent and helpful article for Book Riot by school librarian Lucas Maxwell containing useful ideas to persuade teens who think reading is “boring”.

National Literacy Trust Holocaust Memorial Day Resources – a reminder of these free resources for schools. A live event on Monday 24th January with author Tom Palmer and a Holocaust survivor has been added to these and it is necessary to register for this. Full details and links to the additional resources are available via the link above.

Authorfy Author of the Week Videos – in case you have missed this great free resource, each week a different author is highlighted and a video and downloadable book extract is available on the website. This is a good way to introduce your students to new authors and books.

National Storytelling Week 2022 – this annual celebration of storytelling takes place 29th January – 5th February and is a chance to promote and encourage storytelling in your classroom. You can find out more about three event via the official website, link above. You may also be interested in the teaching resources available on the BBC website here.

Life-Changing Libraries: How to develop a Reading for Pleasure culture – online event supported by Arts Council England for primary teachers, literacy leads, school librarians and parents. Emily Drabble and Catherine Millar will be talking about their work with Cressida Cowell on her ‘Life-Changing Libraries’ campaign. Thursday 3rd February 19:30 – 21:00 and you can register via the link

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

Kew Lift and Look Birds by Tracy Cottingham – published just in time for the Big Garden Bird Watch at the end of this month this board book sounds perfect for encouraging very young children to enjoy the birds in their local area. Andrea Reece highlights both its interactive appeal and the fact it is full of information in her review for LoveReading4Kids .

Harley Hitch and the Missing Moon by Vashti Hardy – illustrated young fiction is brilliant for encouraging reading for pleasure and this second book in a series by award winning author Vashti Hardy sounds like an excellent example of the genre. As Erin Hamilton says in her review: “this series goes from strength to strength.

Raven Winter by Susanna Bailey – any review that says “Perfect for fans of Gill Lewis, Susanna’s books unpick challenging issues, whilst celebrating the great outdoors and the healing power of nature.” is guaranteed to pique my interest. I have not read any books by this author yet but Emma Kuyateh’s positive review has persuaded me to add this title to my wish list.

That’s everything for this week and I hope to be able to catch up with anything I have missed, particularly book reviews, and share it with you next Saturday. Happy reading!

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