Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. As many schools are now busy with end of term events with little time for children’s book news or may have already broken up this will be the last Reading Matters of this school year. Thank you to everyone who has commented, pointed me in the direction of useful items or said hello as the best part of this weekly round up for me is the book chat it prompts.

In case it’s of help to families, this week I have included a section on summer reading with a focus on book related activities, reading challenges and suggested titles which may help to encourage children to read for pleasure over the holiday.

What I’m reading…

The Chronicles of Narnia were among my favourite books as a child, particularly The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe which I read several times. Thanks to the Narniathon organised by Chris Lovegrove over the last few months I have revisited both Narnia and my childhood memories. It has taught me a great deal about how we read, the experience we bring to a story and how that affects our understanding and enjoyment and, most importantly, the emotional difference between reading as an adult and as a child. As the Narniathon nears its end I’m reading From Spare Oom to War Drobe in which Katherine Langrish does an impressive job of discussing the series through the lens of her nine year old self and now as an adult with a critical literary eye. I’m enjoying this immensely and would highly recommend it.

A couple of picture books have made me smile this week. The Roar by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar (Faber 7th July) is the latest in the series about friends Hedgehog and Tortoise. Poor Tortoise has a case of the grumps as life just doesn’t seem to be going well for him and when Hedgehog tries to help Tortoise’s irritation escalates to full blown anger. Both text and illustrations capture the difficulties we may experience in expressing ourselves and this would be a helpful book for encouraging young children to understand their emotions and manage them more effectively. Family and Me! by Michaela Dias-Hayes (Owlet Press 14th July) is brimful of happiness and is a wonderful celebration of a little girl, her family and her heritage. Each page shows how features, talents, skills and attitudes are passed down through the generations and conveys love and acceptance in abundance.

News, articles and resources…

Just Imagine Reading Gladiators Now Subscription Free – the award-winning reading Gladiators book club is now subscription free for primary schools across the globe. Well organised types may like to join up now for access to resources for 108 books selected for years 2 – 6. Alternatively bookmark this link to refer back to for the next academic year. The link above takes you to an introductory video providing full details.

CLiPPA 2022 Live from Southbank Centre – if you were unable to get to the CLiPPA award ceremony last week you can join in all the excitement with the poets, the judges and the participating schools via the CLPE YouTube channel linked above. This might be fun to share in schools during the last days of term.

Andrea Reece: The CLiPPA, Proving Poetry is a Must For Every Child – this great article by Andrea conveys the positive and joyful effects of poetry on children through the CLiPPA shadowing scheme and the events linked to the award which have taken place this year.

Book Trust: New children’s books we love – the July selection from the Book Trust team range from Cluck, Cluck, Duck from Mama Makes Books, a jolly board book rated highly by my friend’s baby granddaughter to Needle by Patrice Lawrence, a story for teens from Barrington Stoke which I found a compelling and unforgettable read..

Literacy Hive: The Literacy Year Calendar of Events – plan your literacy year with this searchable database of events, festivals, awards and awareness days.

YLG Conference Bookings Open – It’s time to book your tickets to the 2022 CILIP Youth Libraries Group Conference. 16-18 SEP 2022 YLG is coming to Sheffield for Reading the Planet: Libraries in a Changing Climate. Alongside the in person conference YLG be offering a virtual programme for those who cannot travel or who cannot afford the full conference. Those who sign up for the live conference will be able to access the virtual sessions for free. Full details and a programme of events to download are available via the link.

Kerry Hudson: School librarians saved me – Scotland can’t afford to lose them – excellent article by author Kerry Hudson on the many varied and vital roles of the school librarian both educational and pastoral. This article was prompted by the North Lanarkshire plans to make their secondary school librarians redundant. As Kerry says, “But, the people they are making redundant don’t just order and organise books. They have a whole other role. They are trusted and represent safety. Safety for kids who are struggling.”

Branford Boase Award Winner Announcement – on Thursday 14 July at an award ceremony at CLPE it was announced that Maisie Chan is the winner of the 2022 Branford Boase Award for the year’s outstanding debut novel for children for her comic, family story Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, about an 11-year-old whose life is turned upside down by his growing friendship with his grandmother, newly arrived from China. The award is shared with Chan’s editor, Georgia Murray, of Piccadilly Press. You may like to read the interviews with Maisie Chan and Georgia Murray and the other shortlisted authors and editors here.

An evening with Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou – this was a relaxing, thoughtful and fascinating way to spend an hour or so on Thursday evening as we joined together online to celebrate the launch of Grow, Tree, Grow. Nikki Gamble has now made this available to all via the link above and it is well worth watching.

Book Blast with Nikki Gamble Summer Dates – these excellent sessions provide a sneak preview of the best of the new children’s books being published each month. Book Blast July/August will be streaming on 29th July at 7.00. And Book Blast August/September will live stream on 31st August. Links are posted to social channels a week before the event so do look out for them over the summer holidays. The link above will take you to Nikki’s previous Book Blast videos and if you have been too busy to watch these over the school year you will probably find these interesting and helpful too.

Summer Reading Ideas

2022 ‘Gadgeteers’ Summer Reading Challenge Book Collection – This year’s Summer Reading Challenge book collection features 67 inspiring titles for different reading levels encompassing picture books, early readers and middle grade titles, with fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic novels included. The books all engage with the key Gadgeteers themes of everyday science, invention and creation and fun with friends. You can explore the lists via the link above.

Summer Reading Challenge x StoryTrails – StoryTrails is a unique, immersive storytelling experience. It aims to allow local people to experience their town in a completely new way through immersive technology, including augmented and virtual reality. People will be able to use this new technology to travel back in time, experiencing untold histories from their local community. This pack brings together StoryTrails and the Summer Reading Challenge, providing activities to help children and young people explore the themes of innovation, technology and immersive storytelling. Full details free to download via the link.

Books For Topics Summer Reading Bingo – A reading bingo challenge to keep children motivated to read over the summer holidays. The focus is on reading for pleasure experiences rather than specific texts, with activities like make a den and read inside, read in the dark using a torch and read to a pet or a soft toy. Children can choose what they read for the challenges, although Alison Leach at Books for Topics has included some Summer 2022 recommended reads for those looking for new ideas.

Books for Topics Summer 2022 Recommended Reads – 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.

The Week Junior Summer of Reading Challenge – Participants are invited to read, rate and review three books over the summer. A fantastic booklist is supplied for inspiration with 50 great titles chosen in partnership with The Book Trust. Reviews must be submitted via their entry form before the closing deadline at midnight on Friday 26 August. One lucky winner will receive a book bundle worth £250 plus a Bookily card from National Book Tokens, loaded with £10 per month for 6 months to spend in their favourite bookshops and online. Three runners up will also each win a Bookily card loaded with £10 per month for 6 months.

Summer of Reading Resources – last year the Reading Agency out together this collection of resources and they are just as useful this year. There are read-alongs, games, quizzes, book clubs and lots more activities to keep families occupied over the summer holidays.

15 Excellent Summer Reading Ideas for Young Readers
– former school librarian of the year, Lucas Maxwell has written an excellent article for Book Riot giving suggestions on how to encourage reading over the summer holiday. The majority focus on making reading fun and include competitions and ‘Surprise Reads’.

Brilliant Children’s Books to Read this Summer – the LoveReading4Kids team has been gathering together a fantastic selection of books. These include beach reads, back garden reads and brilliant bedtime reads. Lots of fascinating non-fiction titles to keep your young ones interested…and children always love an activity book…perfect to keep them occupied on a long journey. Definitely worth a browse!

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

Saving the World: Our Story Starts in Africa by Patrice Lawrence; and Scientists are Saving the World by Saskia Gwinn and Ana Albero – reviews by Ben Harris are always worth reading and this week he shared two excellent new books published by Magic Cat. When Ben says, “I can’t praise these two books more highly…” you know they are worth investigating.

Orla and the Wild Hunt by Anna Hoghton -The second children’s novel by Anna Hoghton, author of The Mask of Aribella follows two siblings in a quest to overcome their grief and find their missing gran. In her review Kate Heap says, “Dark folklore combines with the unbreakable spirit of children to create a story packed full of peril, sacrifice, loyalty, friendship and love.

Well, that’s it for the time being. Thank you for reading and a special thank you to those who get in touch to comment or share online. I hope that everyone has a happy and relaxing summer with family and friends.

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10 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for producing such wonderfully curated content throughout the school year Anne. I know how much I appreciate your efforts and I’m sure that many teachers and librarians are similarly grateful. There must be thousands of children across the country who benefit from your weekly posts. I hope that you enjoy a thoroughly relaxing break over the coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thank you very much for your lovely comments, Veronica and for your continued support of Reading Matters and of me! I’m hoping to switch off for a little while and just read for fun. I hope you have a lovely summer too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Anne. We are just back from a week away in the Peak District and I actually read a grown-up book which wasn’t from a bookclub reading list, or for a review, and it was so enjoyable! Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus – if you read & enjoyed Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple, it has a similar vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Calmgrove says:

    School librarians “don’t just order and organise books. They have a whole other role…” I don’t remember the school librarians when I was growing up, but the ones I came across when teaching in various schools invariably were approachable, knowledgeable and good at what they did, plus their domains were safe places for all the kids who didn’t fit in anywhere else – all of which I’m sure you are familiar with, Anne, and clearly epitomised. Hope you have a lovely break after another series of well researched links. Oh, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the Langrish – it was perfect for awakening me to the merits of the Narniad when all I remembered were the failings. Onwards and upwards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      In recent years I think that the pastoral role of the school librarian has been highlighted by many as an important aspect. The library serves so many functions in a school, for both pupils and staff and I think the relative informality compared to the classroom is a benefit for many.
      Thank you, I’m hoping to read a little more widely over the summer and follow up some of your suggestions which I’ve saved. The Langrish is brilliant! I keep nodding in agreement which is probably influencing my opinion but the balance between childhood experience and adult analysis is just right for me and I’m finding her writing style immensely readable.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jb5jane says:

    Thank you Anne for all your time and effort. I have grown reliant on your Reading Matters for relaxation, direction and inspiration. Thank you so much and have a lovely summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thank you, Jane it’s kind of you and I’m absolutely delighted that you use it so regularly. I’m also glad that we had the opportunity to meet up. I hope you have a lovely summer too and a well earned rest.


  5. busybusylearning says:

    Have a wonderful Summer Anne. Thank you for your amazing content over the school year. I find it an incredible source of information. I too foubd Needle incredible and I can’t wait to get hold of a copy of Family and Me after loving Colour and Me so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Thank you very much, I’m so pleased you find it a useful resource. Needle is a book that made me think about the subjects it explores more deeply. It’s a great book for secondary schools.
      I hope you have a lovely summer too.


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