Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.

What I’m reading…

The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz is a story told with tenderness and understanding and yet is also an exciting adventure blended with Polish legend. Yesterday I was delighted to kick off the blog tour to mark its publication and you can read Ewa’s thoughtful guest article here and find out about the important work being done by the charity Grief Encounter.

This week has been dominated by the books that I have been sent to read and review for the next issue of TSL, the quarterly magazine for members of the School Library Association. I mentioned Writes of Passage: Words to Read Before You Turn 13 Selected by Nicolette Jones last week and am still enjoying referring back to this wonderful book. It is going to be well thumbed I think! There were two lovely picture books that I would like to draw attention to also, Flooded by Mariajo Ilustrajo and A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel. Flooded is a delightful combination of entertaining humour and thoughtful commentary on community spirit and climate change. A Stone Sat Still explores themes of perspective and natural habitat in an accessible manner. Both of these books would be perfect to share, to read aloud and to prompt conversation and linked activities and are ideal for either home or school. Also among my TSL selection was The Story of Babur – Prince, Emperor, Sage retold for children by the Nepalese children’s author, Anuradha and richly illustrated by Jane Ray. There are aspects which resonate strongly today for example the setting in the beautiful cities of Afghanistan has a disturbing poignancy.

News, articles and resources…

Books are My Bag: Indie Book Awards Winners – the winners in each category of these awards were announced last week and special congratulations to Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys who won the Picture Book category with My Beautiful Voice, and Jason Reynolds and Akhran Girmay whose When I Was the Greatest was the Children’s Fiction winner.

Winners of the Children’s Book Award 2022 – Peter Bently and Steven Lenton have been named overall winners of The Children’s Book Award 2022. Their book Octopus Shocktopus! also won the Books for Younger Children category before going on to win the overall prize. The Highland Falcon Thief written by M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman, and illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, won the Books for Younger Readers Category, When The World Was Ours, written by Liz Kessler, won the Books for Older Reader’s category winner. Find out more in this article for Books For Keeps.

Fight Back: Teaching Resources – The book Fight Back by A M Dassu is a story to encourage empathy, challenging stereotypes, exploring prejudice, racism, Islamophobia and positive action. Scholastic have produced a KS3 teaching resource pack that is free to download from their website. Ideal for learning at home or in the classroom.

Summer reading: the 50 hottest new books for a great escape – From pageturning thrillers and comic novels to an antidote to doomscrolling make up this pick of the best new fiction and nonfiction in the Guardian. The selection also includes 10 brilliant paperbacks, and 10 great reads for children and teens.

Books for Topics Summer 2022 Recommended Reads – last week I shared the Books for Topics Summer Reading Bingo which is a great way to encourage reading for pleasure over the holidays. These recommended reads linked above will be helpful if parents or children are asking for suggestions of specific titles. They are divided into age categories.

Why Access to the Outdoors Matters by Yarrow Townsend – a guest post on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ website by the author of The Map of Leaves, a book I recently reviewed for Just Imagine. This thoughtful piece explores the link between nature, stories and imagination and the importance of all three to children.

World Kid Lit Monthly Round Up for June 2022 – this is a helpful and comprehensive look at what has been happening in the world of translated books for children and also stories set in other countries. The article includes a link to the list of 2022 Children’s & YA Books in Translation.

School Library Association Response to North Lanackshire Council decision – CEO of SLA, Alison Tarrant responds to North Lanackshire’s decision to cut all 23 secondary school librarian posts across the region. The article also includes a link to a petition protesting against this plan.

New report – Public Libraries and Literacy Recovery – this week the National Literacy Trust and Libraries Connected released a new report that examines the role of libraries in raising the literacy skills of children whose learning has been disrupted by the pandemic. The article provides a brief overview, a link to the full report and links to resources for libraries.

The Reader Teacher June 2022 Monthly Must Reads – Scott Evans selection for this month includes the wonderful While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle and The Encyclopedia of STEM Words a brilliant non-fiction book for upper KS2 and KS3. There is a downloadable poster and links to Scott’s reviews.

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Literacy Trust Events and Resources – the Literacy Trust have partnered with the FA to create a suite of events and resources to help schools and pupils celebrate. Resources include a Reading Challenge and lots of activities and are suitable for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. They include topics and themes such as PSHE, literacy, maths, PE, culture and heritage. On 6th July 2022 there is a live online launch event with authors Tom Palmer and Venessa Taylor aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils and including a quiz about women’s football, as well as featuring some famous faces.

Literacy Library Presents: Jump Up A Story of Carnival with Ken Wilson-Max – an online CLPE event taking place on Thursday 7th July from 5.00pm-6.30pm £15 celebrating the launch of Jump Up! A Story of Carnival, written and illustrated by award-winning author Ken Wilson-Max. Jump Up! is the second book in the GPI’s new series of black history picturebooks, Reaching New Generations, and tells the story of Cecille, a young black girl living in the Caribbean, and how her community develops their very own Carnival, based on their long-remembered African traditions. The event will be led by CLPE’s Primary Advisory Teacher Darren Matthews.

Summer Reading Challenge: Virtual Author Event with Anna James – children’s author (and former school librarian) Anna James is launching both Hetty and the Battle of the Books and the Summer Reading Challenge with a virtual event for schools hosted by Leeds Libraries on July 8th from 10-11am. Cost £11 per school includes a copy of Anna’s new book featuring libraries.

The Reader Teacher July 2022 Children’s Books I’m Most Excited About – thank you to Scott Evans for highlighting the new releases for this coming month. Among the selection is Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic, the first in an illustrated series for younger readers, the lovely The Dragon in the Bookshop mentioned above and The Cuckoo Summer a Second World War story which I’m reading and enjoying at the moment.

Authorfy: World War 2: emotional storyline and writing about animals with Phil Earle – an excellent range of resources, writing tips and videos available on this Authorfy Masterclass linked to When the Sky Falls and While the Storm Rages.

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

The Boy Who Rescued A Rainbow By Corrina Campbell – this new picture book is described as “a fantastic way to show empathy, sympathy and the wonder of memories” in a review by Sarah Broadley on My Book Corner. It sounds extremely appealing.

The Animal Lighthouse by Anthony Burt illustrated by Ciara Flood – island adventures have been a staple of children’s literature for many years and this Book of the Week on the Books for Keeps website sounds like a perfect summer holiday read.

Birdsong by Katya Balen – this is an absolutely beautiful review by Gordon Askew of a book that was already on my wish list. I am sure that others will be tempted by this. “Katya Balen turns perfection into simplicity. And simplicity into perfection. She can grab your heart and wrench it with a nine word sentence.

Invisible Nature by Catherine Barr Illustrated by Anne Wilson – this new non-fiction title from Otter Barry helps children learn how animals use hidden senses and mysterious forces to survive and discover how we have learned to tap into their secret powers in our daily lives. In his review for Just Imagine Stephen Connor says, “Definitely a book to extend knowledge and to provide moments of awe and wonder each time it is read.”

That’s everything for this week and I hope that you have found something among the links included that is helpful, interesting or maybe even both! I am looking forward to the announcement of the new Children’s Laureate on Monday. The wonderful Cressida Cowell and all she has done over the last few years to promote the worth of school libraries is a tremendously hard act to follow but whoever it is will have a great deal of support from the children’s book world.

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