Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.
What I’m reading…
Firstly I would like to thank SF Said and Nikki Gamble for last night’s Audience With event which was a wonderful way to kick off the weekend. The discussion of SF Said’s books, his writing inspiration and the role of children’s books was full of optimism and hope. A truly uplifting evening.
As I mentioned last week I have recently finished reading The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell and it took me a few days to collect my thoughts and write a review of this thoughtful book. It is a book containing much to discuss and would be an excellent choice for book clubs. I understand that Zillah’s previous book, The Shark Caller, is now a title included in the Reading Gladiators scheme run by Just Imagine and it would not surprise me in the least to see The Song Walker there in the future. My review, I hope, does not include any spoilers but instead just a taste of why I enjoyed it so much.
We are approaching Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January and at the moment I am reading Fritz and Kurt by Jeremy Dronfield illustrated by David Ziggy Greene. Any book with this subject matter is an emotional read but I am favourably impressed by the way in which Jeremy Dronfield balances his story with the courage and resilience shown by the young characters. Fritz and Kurt is also Book of the Week in the latest edition of Books for Keeps and is featured on the Just Imagine website in an article by Roy Moss (See links below)
News, articles and resources…
Become a reading volunteer and change a child’s story – if you were inspired by the story in the news this week of 100 year old Peter Davies who is a reading volunteer at his local school here is a wonderful opportunity to do something similar. Reading isn’t just about books. It’s about reading a road sign, a safety manual, a birthday card. It’s understanding a bank statement, a job application. Children who don’t read well by age 7 are six times more likely to drop out of school. They are also more likely to go on to be unemployed, experience poverty, and even have a shorter life expectancy. Bookmark want every child to read and through their volunteer-led reading programme you can help to make a huge difference to children’s lives. There are currently over 400 children waiting to read on their programme. For just one hour a week for six weeks you could change a child’s story. Find out more about this charity and register via the link above.
Books for Keeps January Edition – I have this lined up for my weekend reading as every article sounds of interest. It is packed with interviews and articles PLUS new year predictions and your reading highlights for the year ahead. Features Sean Taylor, Duncan Beedie, Eve Ainsworth, Beyond The Secret Garden, Beverley Naidoo plus reliable reviews of the latest books.
Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for January 2023 – if you missed this event live the recording is now available to watch via YouTube. This is a brilliant way of keeping up to date with the best of the new children’s books being published at the moment. The linked competition is open until midday 22nd January, so if you’re super quick you can be in with the chance of winning one of those coveted book boxes!
23 children’s books to read in 2023 – The National Book Tokens team are back to highlight 23 fantastic new children’s and teen fiction books that will arrive in bookshops during the first half of the year, from hilarious escapades to magical journeys.
23 Picture Books to Look Forward to in 2023 – more temptation, this time from Clare Helen Walsh on the Picture Book Den blog. A wonderful array of picture books for all ages.
Empathy Lab Read for Empathy Collection News – EmpathyLab is busy preparing its 2023 Read for Empathy book collection – to be launched on 8 February. Consisting of 65 books for 3-16 year olds, the collection gives families, schools and libraries a focused way of helping young people learn more about empathy, and put it into action. The collection is based on scientific research showing that empathy is learnable, and that books are an important empathy-build tool. Each book has been carefully chosen by experts to do a specific empathy-building job. They offer young people different ways of experiencing, understanding and building empathy. Put the date in your diary now!
Puffin Virtual Visits – Real-life authors and illustrators will be beaming straight into classrooms around the country each term, to inspire a lifelong love of reading for your pupils. Each of the free webinar sessions will include a presentation giving pupils a behind-the-scenes look at their books, characters, and creative process before setting an exciting activity for the class. First up is Abi Elphinstone on Friday 3rd February at 2.30pm. Full details are available via the link above.
Engaging families webinar 24th January – World Book Day, with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, National Literacy Trust and Open University are co-hosting a webinar on how to involve and engage families in the pleasure to be found in reading. It is free to register and the even takes place Tue, 24 January 16:00 – 17:00.
FREE Children’s Author Event – Mr Dilly Meets Gill Lewis & Gillian Cross – on Tue, 7 February 11:00 – 12:00am Mr Dilly will be talking to two award-winning authors. GILL LEWIS, whose new adventure story Moonflight, is published next month and GILLIAN CROSS, back with the second exciting adventure of boy-inventor Ollie Spark in Ollie Spark and the Exploding Popcorn Mystery. You can register via the link above and can watch the event on catch up later if necessary.
Where’s Your Head At? Roy Moss blog for Just Imagine – I always enjoy Roy’s blogs for Just Imagine but this one is particularly fascinating and is worth a read. Roy gives the background to the term “Growth Mindset”, its importance in education and, helpfully, some suggestions of the types of books to share with children to encourage this attitude. I’ve bookmarked this to refer back to. Thank you, Roy!
LoveReading4Kids Free Webinars for Educators – last year LoveReading4Schools launched an online bookstore where 25% of money spent can be donated to a school of the buyer’s choice, to spend on books. Book buyers receive 10% off the RRP and even if the buyer doesn’t nominate or have an affinity with a school, 10% of the spend will be donated to schools in need, and schools can apply for this via their Funding for Schools Scheme. If you are a school librarian, a headteacher, a head of literacy or a teacher who loves books, you can sign up for the first webinars to make sure you are maximising all of the content, tools and funding opportunities that LoveReading4Kids has to offer for your school. Full details, dates, timings available via the link.
National Literacy Trust And School Libraries on the Radio – Martin Galway, Head of School Programmes at The National Literacy Trust, features in a BBC Radio Leeds story this week devoted to Primary School Library Alliance work. You can listen on the link above at around 1 hour and 13 mins in, and then again at about 3hours 20mins with added input from Hilary Robinson adding an author’s perspective.
Holocaust Memorial Day 27th January – Literacy Hive have collated a list of links to a variety of resources, interviews and lesson plans suitable for a wide age from primary to Sixth Form on their website. They include those created by the Literacy Trust and Tom Palmer plus book lists and a podcast. An extremely useful point of reference. I would also add this excellent Interview with Jeremy Dronfield, author of Fritz and Kurt by Roy James for Just Imagine
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
A Tricky Kind of Magic by Nigel Baines – this new action-packed graphic novel for emerging young readers received a lovely, positive review on the Bookbag: “The story manages to make you as believe entirely that this trick prop rabbit is talking, and that Cooper and the rabbit actually do discover a magical world where all the tricks that go wrong end up!” The positive comments about the value of graphic novels are interesting too.
Two Sides by Polly Ho-Yen and Binny Talib – this early chapter book sounds perfect for early readers of about 5-7 years old. A story of playground friendships and misunderstandings but with a happy ending is one young children will find relatable and the illustrations look gorgeous too. Thank you to Veronica Price for making me aware of this.
Protecting the Planet: The Season of Giraffes by Nicola Davies illustrated by Emily Sutton – I find any book by this duo difficult to resist and I know I’m not alone. This informative book describes how the giraffe population is affected by climate change and man’s expansion of towns. Despite the problems Tracy Parvin describes this as “a book of hope” in her review for Just Imagine.
That’s everything for this week and I hope that something here is helpful, interesting or entertaining. Happy reading!
Thanks for another week’s worth of interesting links Anne. So great to hear the children talking about their love of the library in the BBC Leeds news report. Have a lovely weekend 😊
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It was great to hear Martin Galway highlighting the importance of school libraries too. He’s been in his new post since about September I think and is a brilliant advocate for children’s books and libraries. I hope you have a lovely weekend too 😊
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I utterly second your thoughts on The Song Walker, Anne. Brilliant blog as always, packed full with fabulous books news, profiles and events. Thank you so much for keeping us all up-to-date and engaged, Anne!
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It’s an extraordinary story isn’t it. I must read Zillah Bethell’s earlier books. Thank you for your lovely comments, Barbara I’m glad you like Reading Matters.