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 remaining books in my latest batch to read and review for Just Imagine made up my reading this week. I enjoyed Honesty & Lies by Eloise Williams very much, it’s definitely my sort of book. Wonderful historical fiction for children, it is a story rich in ideas, language and period detail. The plot includes friendship, secrets and storytelling and it would be a great class read, particularly if you are looking for a text to link with the teaching of the Tudor Period.

I’m halfway through October Witches, a debut by Jennifer Claessen, a great read for dark evenings and the first in a new series. It’s a mix of family relationships, magic and adventure and I will be sharing my review for Just Imagine next week.

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds invited me to write an article on how to transform your primary school library to support reading for pleasure. I’ve tried to include tips for those with a limited budget. There are links to other sources of advice and information too. I hope it’s useful.

News, articles and resources…

Book Blast Special:Christmas Crackers – Nikki Gamble is joined by special guests Jo Bowers, Ben Harris, Helen Morgan, Sam Creighton, Erin Hamilton, Sam Keeley, Roy Moss, and Mary-Rose Grieve. They talk about some of their favourite Christmas books and some recently published titles too. A perfect way to get into the Christmas mood. If you’re quick the giveaway is open until Sunday so there is still time to enter too.

Five of the Best Friendly Dragons – Author of The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons, Andy Shepherd, shares five of her favourite friendly dragons on the Book Trust website. Perfect if you are looking for books featuring dragons that won’t be too scary!

‘I absolutely believe that if a child might experience it, then it is the business of children’s literature to talk about it.’ – In the wake of recent global events, author Nicola Davies discusses how stories can help children explore and deal with difficult issues. A post on the School Library Association website from earlier this year and shared online again this week this thoughtful article continues to be relevant.

Reading: A Child’s Superpower – This virtual event was run by The Open University in Northern Ireland on 18th October 2022 as part of the event programme for Book Week Northern Ireland, in partnership with Libraries NI and the BBC. Professor Teresa Cremin of The Open University shares her expert knowledge on the benefits of reading in childhood, tips for engaging a reluctant reader and how you can nurture a child’s love for reading. This event is suitable for both parents and teachers or anyone interested in supporting young readers.

New findings from BookTrust shine a spotlight on representation in children’s books and its impact on children’s motivations to read – New research and analysis by BookTrust, drawing on insight and findings from two new reports, shines a spotlight on the role of representation in children’s books and the critical impact this has on children’s motivations and desire to read. Both reports and a summary can be downloaded from the article linked above.

Winners announced for SLA’s 2021 Information Book Award – at an award ceremony at Hachette Publishers this week the 2022 winners of the School Library Association Information Book Award (IBA) were announced. The awards are divided into three age categories, judged by a panel of educators plus children have also had the opportunity to vote for their favourite book from the shortlist in order to determine an additional Children’s Choice winner in each age category, and one overall. Congratulations to all the winners.

Using the School Library Association Book Award by Helen Cleaves – having heard Helen Cleaves talk about this subject at our SLA Surrey branch meeting in the summer I can wholeheartedly recommend this article by Helen on the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website. Helen gives advice and tips on using the IBA successful in secondary schools, particularly Years 7&8. Time to get planning for the 2023 Award!

A Character Based on a Child of Your Choice Could Join the Cast of a New Book – Following the success of You Can!,by Alexandra Strick and Steve Anthony the team is thrilled to announce that a second book will follow. We Can! will share real children’s views on the kind of world they want to live in and how we can all play a part in creating that world. The book will be published in 2024. And an exciting new competition will give one lucky child the chance to join the cast of characters pictured in the book. Find out more about this opportunity via the link.

Muddy Brilliant! – Roy James’ regular blogposts for Just Imagine are always interesting, entertaining and helpful. This latest one looks at the importance of soil in areas of learning such as plants, living things, and rocks/geology but also linked to climate change and sustainability too. Roy recommends a couple of great books too.

Books for Topics 2022 Christmas Book Gift Guides – If you are looking for gift ideas for children, these guides contain recommended books for different ages and a wide variety of tastes and are free to download from the Books for Topics website.

What books does our primary school library need? – There are three elements to the well-organised library – space, stock and staff – that lead to a fourth, personalisation, which will help your pupils get the best from your library resources. Here Gillian Harris from Tower Hamlets SLS looks at stock.

Knights Of Publishers: Resources – if, like me, you’ve missed out on these resources linked to a range of titles published by Knights Of they are well worth exploring. Divided chapter by chapter and covering comprehension and inference questions, writing tasks and suggestions for extra activities these would be useful for teachers and librarians.

National Literacy Trust: Diverse Libraries webinar 1: Representations of neurodiversity in children’s reading – the first in the 2022/3 Diverse Libraries free webinar series will take the format of an ‘in conversation’ event with a panel of authors who will be exploring the importance of representation and discussing how neurodiversity feeds into both their writing and the characters in their books. Special guest authors and illustrators include Elle McNicoll, Rose Robbins, and Abigail Balfe. This free event takes place on 29th November 4-5.15pm online and full details can be found on the link above.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – Imogen Russell Williams latest selection for the Guardian includes A colourful picture book; comforting stories; hope for the future; and a sweetly seasonal YA romance.

Shortlist Announced For Biblio-Buzz 2023, Alexandra Palace’s Children’s Book Award – this award was the winner of the School Library Association Community Award for 2022 and encourages children in Years 5-7 in Haringey to become enthusiastic about reading. A great shortlist and lots of activities and events planned for participating schools.

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

The Gecko and the Echo by Rachel Bright and Jim Field – one look at the vibrant cover of this new picture book tempted me to read Tom Slattery’s review. Tom says, ‘I loved the message of showing kindness to others and allowing everyone a chance to shine in their own way,’ so on to the wish list it goes.

Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest by Liz Flanagan – sometimes it can be tricky to find fantasy stories suitable for slightly younger children in the ‘middle grade’ audience and this sounds as though it would fit the bill. Kate Heap says, ‘This book is exactly what readers in Years 3 & 4 need. The short chapters are accessible and non-threatening. Well-spaced print and plenty of illustrations will pull children into the warmth of the story.’

The Detention Detectives by Lis Jardine – school stories and mysteries have a wide appeal for young readers and I really like the sound of this debut. Tom Griffiths has reviewed it this week and says that Lis Jardine ‘has a unique voice which really sets this book apart from those currently on the shelves – I particularly liked the footnotes relating to Star Trek and classic whodunnit shows…’ Lis is a school librarian so has insider knowledge on what children enjoy reading!

That’s everything for this week and I hope you found something here helpful. Happy reading!

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4 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for another comprehensive selection of news items and resources Anne. I have had very little time for keeping up on social media or even for reading over the past fortnight and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this newsletter. I’m also looking forward to reading your thoughts on The October Witches. Have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Lots of materials and links here, but I particularly enjoyed your positive piece for the Wandle Trust – it’s extraordinary that school libraries aren’t appreciated more by the higher echelons of administrators and educators and that – in a school of all places! – libraries aren’t part of any statutory provision.

    Liked by 2 people

    • alibrarylady says:

      The situation regarding school libraries is extremely frustrating, despite research and evidence the powers that be simply refuse to recognise the need for them. Thank you for your kind comment about my article, Chris. I wanted to try to encourage those who would like to improve things but have little time and even less funding.

      Liked by 1 person

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