Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books recently. Before we move on to the links and reviews I wanted to mention the new best practice guide produced by CILIP with funding from Martin Lewis. Started as a public library initiative, CILIP hopes it will be helpful to any organisation looking to set up warm and safe spaces this winter. You can view an article about this initiative and download the guide here.

What I’m reading…

The highly anticipated new novel Tyger by SF Said illustrated by Dave McKean was published earlier this month and last weekend I devoted some time to a slow read, savouring every page. There’s been a lot of chatter about this story and I’m delighted to agree with all the positive comments I have read recently. This is a wonderful book, a book that highlights why children’s books matter so much. It draws children in, it inspires and encourages whilst also introducing them to ideas and literary references that will stay with them into adulthood. I tried to do justice to it in my review which I think avoids spoilers too.

The Zeki series of books published by Alanna Max are, I think, the perfect first books to share with babies and toddlers. This month sees the arrival of Zeki Rise and Shine and Zeki Sleep Tight created by Anna McQuin and Ruth Hearson. They encompass the family rituals familiar to many and are wonderful for encouraging early learning and talk too. You can find out more in my reviews here.

News, articles and resources…

Jake Hayes’ Interview with SF Said – this is a fascinating interview providing an insight into the writing of Tyger by this award winning author. I found learning about the influences and links added to my understanding and appreciation of this remarkable book.

Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast For October– if you missed this month’s edition a recording is now available for you to watch. Nikki’s selections are always worth exploring.

Oliver Jeffers grew up in Belfast hating violence. Now he wants children to see how futile it is – Donna Ferguson interviews Oliver Jeffers for the Guardian and discusses his childhood in Belfast and his hopes for his new picturebook, Meanwhile Back on Earth.

The Farshore Reading For Pleasure 2022 Award Winners – The Farshore Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards 2022, in association with The Open University and the UK Literacy Association (UKLA), celebrate how teachers (and a school librarian!) have found innovative ways to inspire reading for pleasure in the classroom. You can view the award winning initiatives via the link above.

Top Texts for October 2022 – Alice Visser-Furay has selected powerful texts for Secondary for the Open University Reading for Pleasure website. All three of the books chosen by Alice are published by Barrington Stoke and having read them too I think they have a broad appeal.

Celebrating Black British History – this is a thoughtful blog post by Rickella Griffiths for HFL Education. Her comment, “With the new texts that are being published, it’s clear that we are in a period of transformation. It brings me so much joy to witness the shift from a history that focused on past struggles to one that honours achievements.” is a hopeful and optimistic one.

Beyond Books: One Home with Hiba Noor Khan – if you are local to Birmingham this event sounds excellent. Hiba will take children and families on a glorious journey across the globe to meet some of the eighteen inspiring young activists from One Home who are taking a stand against climate change. October 26th at 2pm at Ladywood Share Shack.

Reading Well Book Lists – Reading Well helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using helpful reading. The books are chosen by health experts and people living with the conditions covered. They are sorted into categories including Children, Teens and Children’s Mental Health.

BooksForTopics: the benefits of Recommended Read packs – this guest post by Alison Leach for Peters Books highlights the ways in which schools, teachers and young readers can benefit from the Books for Topics selections. Reading for Pleasure, increasing teachers’ book knowledge and diversifying children’s book choices are included.

8 Great UK Middle Grade Books Students Will Love – this selection of books chosen by secondary school librarian Lucas Maxwell for Book Riot is well worth browsing for ideas.

Overcoming the barriers to reading – guest post on the Book Trust website by S F Said who shares his tips for overcoming barriers to reading.

Malorie Blackman shares PEN Pinter Prize 2022 with Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace – The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The former Children’s Laureate is the first children’s and YA writer to be awarded the PEN Pinter Prize.

Books That Help: Resources and Free Webinar for WritersBooks That Help has announce a mentorship for one writer or writer-illustrator. To help you prepare your story and to talk you through the application process, you are invited to join Little Tiger’s Editorial Director, Ellie Farmer and mentor, Clare Helen Welsh, for a webinar on Zoom. The webinar takes place on 19th October at 7pm and full details of the scheme and the webinar are available via the link.

New Partnership between The Reader Teacher and Reading Rocks – Scott Evans ((The Reader Teacher) and Reading Rocks have recently partnered up to offer schools the chance to purchase Scott’s Top 100 Recommended Reads lists (from Nursery to Year 6) as full packs with special schools discount. These lists have been updated for 2022 and feature a range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books, graphic novels, classics, new, inclusive and diverse books. You can order via the Reader Teacher website by clicking on an individualist and following the link or direct through the Reading Rocks website.

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

My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee – I have a copy of this book published by Scallywag Press and think this review by Mat Tobin for Books for Keeps eloquently describes the appeal of this humorous story. “Agee excels in telling so much through the rhino’s eyes – a few black lines and the exasperated, withering look from the rhino are clear.”

I Am a Poetato: An A-Z of Poems About People, Pets and Other Creatures by John Hegley – this new poetry collection is suitable for younger primary school children and sounds a lot of fun. This helpful review by Jacqueline Doherty provides ideas on how this book could be used in the classroom but this may be enjoyable to share aloud at home too.

Bookworms By Nyanda Foday (author), Joelle Avelino (illustrator) – I find any book that encourages children to become bookworms irresistible so had to include this LoveReading4Kids Book of the Month review. Written by former Birmingham Young Poet Laureate Nyanda Foday this is an introduction to the vital need for every child to see themselves in the books they read.

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings – despite telling children to never judge a book by its cover for years, it was the gorgeous cover by Alex T Smith that caught my attention. However having now read this review by Tom Griffiths I now want to read the story.

That’s all for this week. I hope it’s been useful to you. Happy reading.

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