Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to this week’s round up of what’s been happening in the world of children’s books. Awards, podcasts, poetry, events, reading for pleasure and lots more to enjoy.

What I’m reading…

Holocaust Memorial Day was commemorated yesterday, 27th January, and this week I completed my reading of Fritz and Kurt by Jeremy Dronfield illustrated by David Ziggy Greene published by Puffin this month. The true story of the Kleinmann family was first told in the The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz and Jeremy Dronfield has now rewritten this remarkable and deeply moving story for children. Despite the shocking subject matter this book is a tribute to the extraordinary power of human courage and resilience and this important story is, ultimately, uplifting. I have no doubt this book will be included on school reading lists in the future and deservedly so.

News, articles and resources…

National Storytelling Week Activities – To celebrate storytelling week, taking place from 30 January to 5 February, the National Literacy Trust have created a programme of events and resources. These include the chance to join us for a live storytelling event with professional storyteller and author Wendy Shearer on 30 January, suitable for KS1 and KS2. In addition, there are storytelling activities for learners across a wide age range covering Early years, KS1, KS2 and KS3.

Just Imagine: Poetry by Heart – Dr Julie Blake the co-founder and Director of Poetry by Heart has written a superb blog for Just Imagine about her organisation. Poetry by Heart provides excellent resources for teaching poetry and runs a national spoken poetry competition for schools. I mentioned the competition in Reading Matters last term but if you haven’t been involved with the competition, there is still time to register before the deadline of the 31st March.

Book Trust: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock talk and Q&A – space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock is back with her second book, Am I Made of Stardust? and in this free online event is here to answer all your questions about the wonders of the universe for curious children (and teachers!). Friday, 17th March 10am-10:45am Suitable for: Year groups 5, 6 and 7. More information and registration via the link above.

After 30+ years, ‘The Stinky Cheese Man’ is aging well – can the Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Takes really be more than thirty years old? Well, yes it is and this article by Samantha Balaban discusses the ideas behind the creation of the book and the successful collaboration between Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. A fascinating read for picture book lovers.

Scottish Book Trust: 8 picture books we can’t wait to read in 2023! – A new year means lots of brand new books to share with your little ones. The Scottish Book Trust team have pulled together a list of some to look out for in your local libraries and bookshops this year.

The Yoto Carnegies Announce Media Partnership with Award-Winning Children’s Newspaper First News – it was announced this week that the award-winning children’s news provider First News is the official media partner of these annual awards for children’s and young people’s literature and illustration for 2023. First News will work with the Yoto Carnegies team throughout the Awards cycle to create bespoke content for young readers to engage with the authors, illustrators, and books celebrated by the Awards.

Promoting the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure to New Teachers – article by school librarian Lucas Maxwell for Bookriot about the importance of collaboration between librarians and teachers contains helpful advice for librarians. “My role as a librarian is to try to get teachers involved in the library as something they want to do, not something they have to do.”

Save the children’s by Molly Ker Hawn – article in The Bookseller by Molly Ker Hawn, the managing director of the Bent Agency’s UK office discussing the current state of children’s publishing and the role of publishers and media. “The canon of British children’s literature is one of this country’s great cultural achievements—and exports—but it’s increasingly a losing proposition to try to make a living writing it.”

The Branford Boase Award Longlist Announced – The longlist for the 2023 Branford Boase Award was announced on Wednesday 25 January 2023). Set up in memory of award-winning author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase, one of the founders of Walker Books, the Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of the year’s outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, the award also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. The longlist of 21 features fantasy novels, accomplished coming-of-age YA novels; a Georgian-era crime adventure; and a novel longlisted for the new Adrien Prize for novels giving a positive portrayal of a character with a disability. This list would be a perfect way of keeping up with new quality fiction for children and young people.

Backlisted Special: The Books of our Childhood with Frank Cottrell Boyce– the first Backlisted special of 2023 features the award-winning novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce. This podcast is a one hour treat of nostalgia and wisdom about children’s books including mention of Ursula Le Guin, Joan Aiken, Just William and the joy to be found in I Spy books. I found this interesting and entertaining and hope you do too.

Top 50 books every child should read – the National Literacy Trust is Good Housekeeping magazine’s new charity partner for 2023 and this week this partnership published a list of 50 recommended books for children in different age groups from Under 5s to 14-16 year olds.

Reading Rocks Virtual Author Events – Reading Rocks have launched a virtual events subscription platform which gives your school access to some of the latest and greatest authors and illustrators who are creating exciting and diverse books for primary and early years readers. Subscribers receive 6 annual credits to spend on virtual author events for pupils aged 3 to 11. Each event is one credit. The system is described as easy to use and with reduced admin for school compared to arranging your own events. This is definitely worth a look!

The Week Junior Book Awards – a new award for children’s books is excellent news, particularly after the loss of the Blue Peter Award last year. In partnership with The Bookseller, The Week Junior Book Awards will honour the authors, illustrators and publishers who inspire children to read for pleasure. The emphasis is on original ideas, outstanding illustration and smart storytelling, as well as new and diverse talent. The opening date for entries is 6th March and there is further information about categories, judging panel etc. on the official website.

2022 Ruth Rendell Award – launched in 2016 by the National Literacy Trust and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) this award celebrates writers who have gone above and beyond to support literacy development in the UK over the past year. Previous winners have included Tom Palmer and Cressida Cowell. The shortlist was announced this week and the citation for each of them is impressive.

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

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns To Ride a Bike by Chris Naylor- Ballesteros – the cover illustration of this new picture book published by Nosy Crow made me smile and the review on Storysnug is tempting too. A story of friendship and first experiences to be enjoyed by young children at home or in the classroom.

Mort the Meek and the Perilous Prophecy by Rachel Delahaye illustrated by George Ermos – what a great title! Nicki Cleveland’s lovely review had added to the appeal. I love the sound of the story, balancing humour with kindness and George Ermos’s illustrative style is an added bonus.

Into the Faerie Hill by H.S. Norup – due to be published in March the theme of this story mixing folklore, family and mystery plus the woodland setting sound appealing. Read Kate Heap’s positive review to find out more.

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska – a LoveReading4Kids Book of the Month this diary by a 12 year old Ukrainian girl documents her experiences from her birthday in February 2022, the Russian invasion and her subsequent journey to safety.

That’s everything for this week and I hope that this round up is helpful to you. Happy reading.

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8 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thanks Anne. I loved listening to the Backlisted episode this week. It’s one of my favourite podcasts anyway, but an extra special treat whenever FCB makes an appearance. Have you listened to the episode when he and Katherine Rundell discuss E Nesbit? I think it was the Christmas 2021 special. It’s delightful.
    I’m bookmarking The Good Housekeeping list to pass on to some former colleagues, I’ve read just about every book on there and wholeheartedly agree with the recommendations.
    I hope you have a lovely weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Calmgrove says:

    “My role as a librarian is to try to get teachers involved in the library as something they want to do, not something they have to do.” This echoes your own mantra, Anne, doesn’t it? 🙂 And it’s one I recognise as implicit in all those children’s librarians I remember (either as a student or as a teaching colleague) whom I respected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Yes, I hope so, Chris. At least it was when I worked in a school library and I try to encourage the same attitude through my weekly catch up. Thank you, it’s heartening that you have such a positive memory of the children’s librarians you’ve known or worked with. It’s all down to teamwork really isn’t it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for including Story Snug’s Frank and Bert book review, Anne. It’s a really fun story for little ones who will be able to identify with Bert’s wobbly experience of learning to ride a bike 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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