Welcome to the first Reading Matters newsletter of the new academic year and I hope that everyone had a lovely summer. There are lots of events in the coming weeks that may be of interest to children’s book lovers of all ages and I have included links to many of these below. Inevitably a lot has happened in the world of children’s literature since mid July so I can’t include it all however I do hope that this round up will provide a taste of how much is being created and shared at the moment.
What I’m reading…
Well, I’ve not managed to read quite as much as I had hoped to over the last few weeks but I wanted to share just some of the books that I have managed to write reviews for. You can read about some of the new children’s fiction published over the summer that I enjoyed, there’s something for a variety of tastes included. Three lovely picture books for budding conservationists also caught my eye.
Birdsong, Katya Balen’s novella for Barrington Stoke illustrated by Richard Johnson is beautifully written and one of those books that I struggle to review eloquently but would urge others to read. Its portrayal of the healing power of nature and music is moving and rather special. The Ape Star is a book I reviewed for Just Imagine and is one I probably would not have selected otherwise but I’m really glad I read it as it’s original, amusing and full of love and wisdom. A delightful read that being a translated work would be good for World Kid Lit Month too. No doubt you have already read lots of good things about Grow, Tree, Grow by Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou but I would like to add my voice to the recommendations as it’s a such beautiful book.
I also finally managed to read Where the Crawdads Sing just before I went to see the film and enjoyed both, the book slightly more than the film which is inevitable I suppose! A visit to Jane Austen’s house in Chawton and her brother’s home, Chawton House rounded the summer off perfectly. Now I’ve just got to find the time to read more of her work.
News, articles and resources…
CILIP YLG National Conference 2022 – Reading the Planet: Libraries in a Changing Climate – it’s not too late to book for this annual conference taking place 16th – 18th September in Sheffield. Following COP26, the conference theme could not be more topical. Young people’s activism around the environment, climate change and more generally on societal change, gives us all hope for the future. The programme is excellent and it is possible to book for the Saturday or Sunday only as a day delegate this year too. Full details available via the link.
CILIP YLG National Conference 2022 – Reading the Planet Virtual – in addition to the in-person conference above, YLG are also offering a virtual conference September 12th – 14th at the cost of £50 +VAT for members £65 +VAT for non-members which is viewable for 12 weeks. Delegates attending the conference in Sheffield have the virtual conference included in their ticket price. The virtual event line-up is also excellent and this may suit those who are unable to travel to Sheffield or prefer the cheaper option.
Nikki Gamble: An Audience with… online event series – 9 superb authors, including, SF Said, Shaun Tan and Beverley Naidoo, 9 outstanding books plus an online book club co-chaired by Nikki and Ben Harris is an opportunity not to be missed. Tickets are now available to book for the whole series of events and booking is open until 30th September. Book packs will be sent out in October before the first session. Single event tickets will be released on the 1st of October, subject to availability. Full details, timing, costs etc. are all available via the link above.
Getting the school library ready for the new year – Alison Tarrant, CEO of the School Library Association, knows exactly what to prioritise when planning for the new school year. Here are her top tips, shared with BookTrust, for creating a library that new pupils will love.
CLPE How To Be a Lion by Ed Vere teaching ideas – The CLPE team has put together teaching sequences for the brilliant How to be a Lion by Ed Vere for schools to use as part of back to school planning in September. CLPE have chosen this book for a whole school sequence as it has the themes of friendship, empathy, individuality, standing up for what is right and using words for good at its heart. You can download the free units and access video resources from Ed on the CLPE website.
Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – the latest selection from Imogen Russell Williams includes bad manners in the jungle; a magical inner-city tree; galactic danger; a conservationist call to arms; plus the best new YA novels.
The Reader Teacher: August Monthly Must Reading – Scott Evans’ selection for August includes the excellent Resist by Tom Palmer. Visit the website via the link to read reviews and download the free poster.
World Kid Lit Month – September sees the annual celebration of world literature for children and young adults. There are numerous resources, ideas, features and book lists available on the website linked above and this month would be the ideal time for children and schools to share books and stories from countries other than their own. Look out on social media for more updates throughout the month. The 2022 list: children’s and YA books in translation would be an excellent place to start.
The Reading is Magical Festival 2022 – this online festival is available, for free, to schools and families up and down the country and internationally, so that anyone can experience the magic of books and reading. The full programme and details of how to register are available above. There are many writers, illustrators and poets taking part from 26th-30th September 2022.
Books That Help: Clare Helen Welsh – author and former teacher Clare Helen Welsh launched this new initiative last month and this, I think, will be useful for both schools and families. She has collated lists of picture books that may help children, and probably older children and adults too, through situations that may challenge or worry them. Categories include illness, grief, moving house, dementia, physical disability and the lists will be added to in the future.
Encouraging Children to Read – teacher and blogger Tom Slattery celebrated his 100th blogpost by writing this helpful post full of practical ideas, advice and tips. Key to his success is a knowledge of children’s literature, encouraging book chat and personal recommendation. This would be of great help for new teachers and interesting for parents too. Please don’t forget to ask your school librarian for help too!
The Reader Teacher: Books I’m Most Excited About for September – it’s difficult to keep up with all the new children’s books being published at the moment but Scott Evans has come to the rescue with this video of his choice of September’s highlights.
Tom Palmer’s Resist Schools Virtual Launch – on 16th September at 11am Mr Dilly meets multi-award-winning author Tom Palmer in an exciting event perfectly pitched for ages 9+. Find out more about Tom’s new book, Resist, as well as fascinating facts about the Second World War, the Dutch Resistance, Audrey Hepburn and more. Resist is one of my favourite children’s books of the year so far and you can read my review here. Resist has also been chosen as the Primary Book Club read for September on Twitter and there are stacks of excellent resources linked to the book on Tom’s website.
Petr Horacek talks about The Perfect Present – if like me you were not able to attend this event hosted by Nikki Gamble on Tuesday evening now is your opportunity to catch up with what we missed. Petr talks about his creative process and ideas behind this glorious picturebook published by Otter-Barry Books.
Love My Books September Newsletter – Have a super start to a new school year with this newsletter featuring Love My Books’ new book in focus, plus new books listed with linked activity pages, Mini Grey’s The Greatest Show on Earth is highlighted and there is also a feature remembering Raymond Briggs. Lots of useful ideas for children from Early Years to Upper Primary.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Together with You by Patricia Toht Illustrated by Jarvis – I like the sound of this new picture book reviewed by Kelly Ashley for Just Imagine. Containing themes of family and memories, Kelly describes this as, “a memoir of love and devotion told through the eyes of a child, Together with You is an elegantly crafted book that is not to be missed.”
Key Player by Kelly Wang – the fourth book in the Front Desk series is attracting a great deal of attention among children’s book fans at the moment and this review by Rachel on the Get Kids into Books blog provides a helpful insight into its appeal. “Key Player is an inspiring story which shows that, despite bumps in the road, ambition and resilience are essential to achieving your goals. There are important messages too about standing up against exploitation and there’s excellent examination of the double standards applied to men and women.”
Dragon Skin by Karen Foxlee – this is a thoughtful review by Nick Campbell of a book I had not heard of but am now tempted to read. Nick makes some interesting points regarding links to classic children’s books and also to reviewing in general, particularly on social media.
War of the Wind by Victoria Williamson – this is a YA title that is new to me but Veronica Price’s review has whetted my appetite to find out more now. Veronica says, “I highly recommend this novel for all secondary school librarians, both for it’s entertainment value as a gripping thriller and for the empathy-inducing portrayal of children who are often overlooked or dismissed.”
Quite a lot to get through this week but I hope it will be helpful to you over the coming days. Good luck to everyone returning to school at the moment and happy reading.
Interesting note about Birdsong. I adore October, October, but this one…I feel the same as you. I don’t know what it is about it, but yes, I would encourage others to read it…and maybe I’ll give it another try.
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It’s a lovely story, I think and not a single word is wasted. I enjoyed it but didn’t review it as I’d read a beautiful review on Just Imagine that I knew I couldn’t add to really. October, October is still on my shelf and I must read it soon!
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It is one of the very best books I have ever read…and I have read a lot of books.
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Welcome back! As usual there are at least a couple of items that catch my eye, thanks. Also as usual I seem to have missed reminders of World KidLit month and have half committed myself to a number of books fitting other memes. I’ll have a dig around and see what might fit the bill…
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Thank you, Chris and thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post. There are far too many books and other themed celebrations for me to keep up with. I will try to find another translation to fit in this month though if possible.
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I meant to reply to your post yesterday Anne but somehow the day raced by! Thank you for such a comprehensive round up, I do hope that you managed to spend at least some of your summer relaxing. So lovely to see your photos from Chawton; I grew up in Hampshire and have loved Jane Austen’s novels since a marvellous English teacher introduced Pride & Prejudice to my class when I was about 14. In fact, my hospital staff bookclub are due to read P&P or S&S for our December discussion and I cannot wait for the meeting (I’ve read both books multiple times over the years!) Have a great week 🙂
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Thank you for your lovely comments, Veronica. Chawton was simply wonderful. I went with a couple of other librarians and it was a perfect day. Oh for the time to settle down and read her books properly now. Thanks again for always chatting on here, I do appreciate it x
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