Happy New Year and welcome to the first Reading Matters update of 2023. This week’s round up includes both a look back at the best of 2022 and a preview of some books we can look forward to at the start of this new year. There are events and resources too so why not settle down and explore.
What I’m reading…
Before we turn to children’s books first a quick mention of some of my other reading. One of my Christmas presents was The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen a book which I am dipping into daily and finding fascinating. I do have two more daily reads, My Garden Year by Monty Don and A Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day of the Year by Clemency Burton-Hall both of which act as an escape from the dreadful news everywhere at the moment. So far my resolution to read a little of these each day is working but as we’re only a week in to 2023 I mustn’t get smug!
There are numerous children’s books being published this month, many this week in fact. I have read and reviewed four of them A couple of new titles from Barrington Stoke, by Jenny Pearson and Ross Montgomery, the first in a new detective series by school librarian Lis Jardine and Abi Elphinstone’s exciting reimagining of Peter Pan, Saving Neverland which I would highly recommend for readers of about 8+. On Wednesday evening I attended the online launch event for Saving Neverland, a conversation between Abi and Nikki Gamble which was an absolute treat. The enthusiasm for imagination, adventure and the importance of children’s books was infectious and uplifting. There is also a lovely interview with Abi about this new book on the Books for Topics website here.
I have just started reading The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell and the excellent opening has definitely piqued my interest and I’m now wondering how the story will develop.
News, articles and resources…
Books for Topics Books of the Year 2022 – Alison Leach of Books for Topics invited teachers to vote for their best classroom read-alouds, the books that were the biggest hit with their pupils and the top books to support their curriculums and you can view all the category winners via the link above.
CLPE Staff Picks for 2022 – another wonderful range of books selected by the experts at the Centre for Literacy for Primary Education. The list is free to download and includes helpful summaries of the titles too.
Reading and Reflecting on Marcus Sedgwick – Former Chair of the Youth Libraries Group, Alison Brumwell, reflects upon the exceptional writing and varied career of the late Marcus Sedgwick, whose exceptional and experimental writing has done so much to enhance and enrich the lives of his readers. Marcus took part in the virtual programme for the Youth Libraries Group conference in 2022 and the insightful interview he gave with Alison is available to watch via this article.
The Reader Teacher January 2023: Books I’m Most Excited About – turning to the future, Scott Evans has selected his favourite books being published this month and you can find out more in his video. Lots of brilliant books to watch out for and helpful for both schools and families.
Book Trust New Children’s Books We Love January 2023 – every month, the Book Trust team review dozens of books for children and teenagers. Here are the ones they like best this month divided into age group categories.
Cook Up Your Own Fairy Tales with the British Library – from 25th January to 28th March the British Library are inviting children to make little books filled with storied inspired by the past. Launching with free events by Michael Rosen, Viviane Schwarz and Mara the storyteller this is is another helpful resource for schools. More details of how to get involved are available on the official website above.
An Evening with Richard O’Neill in Conversation with Nikki Gamble – Scholastic and Just Imagine are celebrating the publication of Richard O’Neill’s A Different Kind of Freedom: A Romani Story, the latest title in Scholastic’s popular Voices series. Free Online event via EVENTBRITE 18th January 7.00 – 8.00 pm Audience: For teachers, librarians, booksellers and anyone interested in children’s books. Children may watch with you.
Holocaust Memorial Day 27th January Resources – With the help of funding support from the Marks Family Charitable Trust, the Association of Jewish Refugees and The Blue Thread, award winning children’s author Tom Palmer has teamed up with the National Literacy Trust to produce free resources for use in the classroom or at home, to help schools commemorate this day. The resources are designed to be used throughout the week beginning Monday 23 January 2023, for use with students aged 10 to 14 (Upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3). You can also find out more and view resources from earlier years on Tom Palmer’s website. In addition on 27th January: 2:00 to 2:45pm. A free online Q&A event with Tom interviewing Mala
Tribich, a Holocaust survivor. For further info on this event and to register click here. The webinar will remain on the National Literacy Trust’s website as a resource video after the event.
How a School Library Can Have Impact – Barbara Band MCLIP, School Library Consultant, and co-author of Creating a School Library with Impact, explains how a school library is more than just a room with books in this article for Book Trust.
2023 TV shows and movies: The children’s books to read before they hit your screens – the Book Trust team have collated this list of titles that will be shown on TV or cinema over the coming year, a mix of favourites for all ages.
Diverse Class Books: by Ashley Booth – a true labour of love, teacher, reading for pleasure speaker and bookseller Ashley Booth has put together this spreadsheet of diverse and inclusive books. He has split the books according to year group (Nursery/Reception – Year 6) and he has indicated which books have resources available on Authorfy and the Literacy Shed websites. Ashley says it will be a working document and will be updated regularly as new books come out. This is a huge amount of work so a big thank you to Ashley.
Lollies Awards Shortlist Announced – Pooja Puri, Dapo Adeola and Nadia Shireen are among the authors and illustrators who have made the shortlist for the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards. Known as The Lollies, the prize is a set of awards created by Scholastic UK that celebrate the funniest children’s books. They were created in response to the end of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2015 and have been expanded this year, adding additional categories following the news that the Blue Peter Book Awards have also ended. Voting takes place via the Scholastic website here.
Literacy teaching and school events calendar 2022-2023 – a quick reminder of this resource from the National Literacy Trust providing ideas and literacy teaching resources for cultural events and UK awareness days.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair by Hannah Foley – published next month to link with Children’s Mental Health Week this story told through two timelines sounds both thoughtful and interesting. Teacher Tom Griffiths says in his review that, ‘With such a powerful story, it’s excellent and responsible to see that Hannah does a Q&A around mental health at the end, along with some important websites and phone numbers which can support readers further.’ A helpful book for school libraries.
21% Monster: Ice Giant – P. J. Canning – I had missed the first instalment of this adventure series but Rich Simpson’s review of the second book in the series published this week suggests this would be popular with many readers. Rich says it should appeal to fans of Horowitz’s Alex Rider, and lovers of authors such as Christopher Edge and Jennifer Bell. A broad appeal!
Albi the Glowing Cow Boy by Georgia Byng, illustrated by Angela Cogo – another book published this week that I had not heard of but does sound a little bit different. Veronica Price is a review whose opinion I trust so this story about a calf and a boy whose lives become intertwined is going on my wish list. It’s difficult to summarise why so do please read Veronica’s review to find out more. I love the gorgeous cover by Levi Pinfold too.
That’s everything for this week. I hope the first few days back to school have gone well for teachers, librarians and school staff and for children and families too.