Reading Matters – children’s book news

Illustration by Eleanor Tomlinson

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. Discussion about literacy, children’s books and libraries made the national media over the last few days and I have included links below. The volume of books being published is hard to keep up with and I rely heavily on reviewers I trust however there are excellent books that no doubt I am missing but I hope those included in my round up appeal.

What I’m reading…

The Barrington Stoke team have been busy and published a flurry of new titles this month. Two books that bring history to life for new readers are Journey BACK to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story by Catherine Johnson with illustrations by Katie Hickey and Everest Reaching the Roof of the World by David Long illustrated by Stefano Tambellini both of which would be excellent for use in educational settings. I also enjoyed a new Little Gem book from this publisher by Lisa Thompson, Sidney Makes a Wish. This is absolutely lovely, a story of friendship and empathy told with a kind understanding and with a subtle message that sometimes what you’re searching for is right under your nose. There are cheerful illustrations by Jess Rose and a happy ending too! The Day My Family Disappeared by Jo Simmons illustrated by Lee Cosgrove is great fun. A “Home Alone” situation in which our hero, Bob, calls on some survival skills learned from TV endurance shows to cope with getting lost in the woods, stalker sheep and nasty geese. Perfect for children who ask for funny books.

Turning back to non-fiction, Neon Squid are a new publisher creating some stylish and well produced information books for children. Out this month is Tales of the Prehistoric World: Adventures From the Land of the Dinosaurs written by Kellie Moore illustrated by Becky Thomas. This is brilliant for dinosaur fans of all ages as the author’s enthusiasm for her subject is infectious and there are great illustrations by Becky Thorns too. I particularly liked the blend of facts with a storytelling approach to the recounting of the discoveries made over the years and the considered approach to the different points of view and theories about the subject. A great and useful books for school libraries and classrooms for both browsing for pleasure and learning.

News, articles and resources…

Book Trust: Books We Love for September – Every month, the Book Trust review dozens of books for children and teenagers. These are their choices for this month sorted by age group and including Queen of the Classroom a great picture book for supporting little ones starting nursery or school and Birdsong a novella that I loved and can wholeheartedly recommend.

Children’s Books Ireland International Conference – this year’s conference ‘All the Way Home’ takes place at Light House Cinema, 24–25 September 2022. Featuring an array of international children’s authors, illustrators and poets, the 2022 conference’s theme, ‘All the Way Home’ asks each of its speakers to reflect on the meaning of home, and how a sense of homecoming and place informs their work. The timetable and full details of tickets etc are available via the link.

One in five children in England do not own any books of their own – an article in the Guardian regarding the recent findings of the National Literacy report. Usually I share articles such as this without personal comment but am staggered that this makes no mention of the loss of our public libraries and the neglect of school libraries nationally. Libraries would do so much to help this problem.

Thank goodness for Cressida Cowell, former Children’s Laureate who subsequently spoke eloquently on TV about the need for school libraries. I hope this link below works for you…

Truss urged to invest in libraries and abolish tax on audiobooks – more words of wisdom about the need for both school and public libraries from Joseph Coelho, our new Children’s Laureate, and Nick Poole, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Be part of new research into UK primary and secondary school library provision – following on from the links above the Great School Libraries campaign are repeating this research in to library provision in primary and secondary schools to get a more up-to-date picture. Find out how your school can help via the link above.

Bookmark: Grant to promote a Whole School Reading Culture – As part of their work to help develop whole school reading cultures, Bookmark is offering a limited number of grants to primary schools to help them address their specific literacy needs. There are two types of grants available: Whole School Reading Culture project grant (up to £5,000) and Whole School Reading Culture teacher CPD grant (up to £500). Full details on the website above.

New Updated Authorfy Website – this update has taken creator Mel Taylor-Bessent two years to bring to fruition and is well worth exploring. There are over 10,000 hours of author videos, hundreds of classroom resources & book extracts, a new search function, author letters & more.

World Book Day £1 Books Announced – The £1/€1.50 books are an important part of the World Book Day mission to promote reading for pleasure by offering every child and young person the opportunity to choose and own a book. This list should appeal to a wide range of interests and stages of reading and is a refreshing mix of genre. The £1/€1.50 books will also be available in braille, large print & audio via Guide Dogs, the RNIB and Calibre Audio.

World Kid Lit Month: Illustrated chapter books for emerging readers – this guest blog post by Emily Bright & Sarah Campbell of the Parrot Street Book Club features some appealing translated books for children aged roughly 5 to 8. Organised types may like to put Santa Gets a Second Job on their shopping list!

Storyshaped: A podcast about the power of stories to shape lives and change the world – this is a brand-new children’s literature podcast all about the stories that shape us – and how the stories that formed us go on to shape the stories we create. Hosted by children’s authors Susan Cahill and Sinéad O’Hart. I’ve listened to the recent episode with picture book creator Olivia Hope and found it a relaxing and enjoyable half hour. Previous episodes include a look at classic books by Alan Garner and Catherine Storr. I shall be following this new venture with interest.

The British Library Learning: Step Inside Your Story – Join a host of wonderful authors, including Joseph Coelho the new Children’s Laureate in this new initiative. A celebration inclusivity in children’s books, inviting young writers to make concertina books about themselves. There is free online workshop available for schools. Discover more & enter the prize draw on the official website above.

Everyone Loves A Quiz by Chris Lloyd – the Federation of Children’s Book Groups is gearing up for National Non-Fiction November and are sharing an exciting and unique opportunity for schools. Chris Lloyd’s guest blog tells us about quizzes and our fascination with them and there is also the opportunity to get involved, linked with Britannica magazine, and win some books for your school.

Klaus Flugge Prize Shortlist Videos – the winner of this prestigious award for illustration is announced next week. You may be interested in these short but lovely videos about each of the shortlisted books which provide an insight into their creation.

Developing a Culture of Reading for Pleasure 1: Teachers who Read and Readers who Teach – are you trying to promote Reading for Pleasure in your school? This is the first in a series of blogs from Open University Reading for Pleasure lecturer Debbie Thomas that explore the key elements underpinning an RfP culture, with links to resources to help you get started. An extremely helpful article.

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

The Moon of Kyiv by Gianni Rodari Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna – in recent weeks I have seen pictures of this new book and now having read this review by Jonny Walker for Just Imagine I know I want to see it ‘in the flesh’, it sounds so beautiful. Jonny says, “Rodari’s beautiful words are a reminder that we share just one world. And that we must not ever lose sight of each other’s right to live peaceably within it.

Rainbow Magic: Harper The Confidence Fairy – Daisy Meadows – in my experience this series was beloved by many young children in the school library and helped set numerous readers off on their reading journey. This new title has the added bonus of featuring a fairy with Down Syndrome whose special gift of trust is instrumental in the plot. This is a lovely, thoughtful review by Karen and this book is perfectly timed for Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.

The Story of Green River by Holly Webb illustrated by Zanna Goldhawk – this review by Jo Cummins includes an interesting interview with Holly Webb. Jo says the book is, “A KS2 animal adventure with a classic feel – interesting characters, vivid descriptions, peril, and heart.” It sounds like it will have a wide appeal!

The Last Storyteller by Donna Barba Higuera – a story combining Mexican folklore and sci-fi certainly sounds a bit different and this enthusiastic review by Tom Griffiths has whetted my appetite for more. He says, “From a teaching point of view, this book is certainly one which will gain more sophisticated conversations in KS3 classrooms but equally, I know Upper Key Stage 2 would enjoy this too.”

That’s everything for this week. I hope something here has caught your eye or will be useful.

Illustration by Chris Riddell
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2 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for sourcing so many interesting links again this week Anne. Fingers crossed that the new cabinet grant some extra funding to public and school libraries. I’ve been working on a partnership project with our public library for the past year and the range of services they provide to the local population is incredibly impressive and valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      It would be excellent if there was a positive response from the government. If we all keep supporting the various campaigns maybe someone will eventually take note. That’s interesting about your project, Veronica. What a positive thing to do.


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