Welcome to this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books.
One important event this week was the launch of part 2 of the Great School Libraries campaign. The latest research highlights the inequality of school library provision around the country and the reduction in the number of school libraries in the last few years. This week’s launch at the House of Commons drew attention to these worrying figures and set out the campaign’s vision to government and school leaders. There is a link to the full report in the news section below. We need a school library in every school for every child. Please do support this vital campaign! You can find out how to help here and follow on Twitter.
What I’m reading…
It took me a few days to collect my thoughts after I finished reading What The World Doesn’t See by Mel Darbon and to write a review that I felt did justice to this special book. It is, I think, a profoundly moving novel written with love and understanding by an author who has given a voice to those who have been under represented in books for children and teens up to now. In this story Mel Darbon offers an insight into life for those with a learning disability and for those who love and care for someone who has one. An utterly absorbing read and one that will make a difference.
Moonflight by Gill Lewis illustrated by Pippa Curnick is an epic adventure, appealing characters, secrets and betrayal, legends and curses, stories and lies all bind together in this exciting adventure full of danger and bravery. Gill Lewis has created a fantasy world that asks questions of our own and encourages children to seek out the truth and recognise what really matters in their lives. Although I have a life long fear of rats Gill has also converted me thanks to the wonderful siblings, Tilbury and Nimble Quick Twitch-Whiskers!
News, articles and resources…
Caroline Sanderson talks to Katherine Rundell – an interesting article in Mslexia in which Caroline Sanderson interviews the award winning novelist, literature academic and playwright about why she champions children’s fiction and her passion for John Donne’s poetry. One comment in particular stood out for me, “it’s to children’s fiction that you must turn if you want to feel awe and hunger and longing for justice.’ Thank you to Veronica Price for flagging up this article.
Seven beautiful books that show the power of a ‘quiet story’ – Author Anna McQuinn, author of the Zeki series and Lulu series, talks about the need for gentle books that reflect what’s important to the youngest of readers. Anna’s books reflect these thoughts beautifully and if you have not already discovered them I can highly recommend both the Zeki and Lulu books for the youngest readers in your life.
The Guardian view on children’s reading: a gift that should be for all – an editorial piece in the Guardian highlighting the increased need for school libraries during the current cost of living crisis. This follows on from items I shared last week about the proposed closure of school libraries in Scotland and the recent research report published by the National Literacy Trust. And, of course, leads on to the next item…
Equal futures or an imbalance of opportunities? – the phase 2 report of the Great School Libraries campaign was launched at the House of Commons this week. The key findings are a vital read for anyone interested in the literacy of our children and their equal access to books for reading for pleasure and learning. Led by the CEO of CILIP, Nick Poole and Alison Tarrant, CEO of the SLA “The Great School Libraries campaign will continue to work to embed the role of school library staff in the educational landscape and ensure that all children in the UK can access the benefits of a great school library.” You can download the full report here.
Diverse Libraries webinar 2 – Every reader counts: developing inclusive reading provision and practice – the second in the Literacy Trust’s 2023 Diverse Libraries free webinar series focusing on inclusive reading provision and practice takes place online on 29th March 4 -5.15pm. This session will explore the importance of making provision for books and reading spaces that offer accessible and welcoming reading experiences for those who find reading especially challenging and those children who, for various reasons, have come to be reluctant to read.
Children’s Book Award Resources – the Federation of Children’s Book Groups last week shared the Top Ten shortlist for this award. They have now created some downloadable posters and also activity notes for each book that are designed to help you to engage your child or children with the books in a variety of ways, to encourage them to write reviews and to get them responding creatively. These would be helpful either in schools or libraries or at home.
Penguin Random House Children’s 2023 highlights – Penguin Random House Children’s 2023 Highlights Presentation took place on the 21st February, a virtual event showcasing the many books that this publisher is publishing over the coming year. You can download an event programme which includes information about the Highlights Presentation and the authors and illustrators featured within the video. The publishers have also created a showcase pack where you can find all of their top picks for 2023 listed by publication month. Both resources are available on their website linked above.
I Spy, Bletchley Park A Guest Blog for Just Imagine by Rhian Tracey – Rhian Tracey explains how as a child she interviewed her grandafthers about their wartime roles, but it was only as an adult that she realised that she did not know anything about the role played by her Nan. This led her to uncover family secrets and discover the codebreaking work undertaken by her Great Aunt Audrey. Now Rhian has written a novel inspired by Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, where her great aunt worked. This book is next up on my reading pile and I’m looking forward to reading it even more after Rhian’s insights.
In a world with over eight billion people, how different can we really be? Find out by reading the winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022 – The winner of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022, which was announced at an online award ceremony this week, is ‘If the world were 100 people’, by Jackie McCann and Aaron Cushley. Find out more about the winning book and the shortlist on the official website above.
Lucas Maxwell’s The Portable Magic Dispenser – this latest newsletter from school librarian Lucas includes information about a free Dungeons and Dragons game session online for absolute beginners. What the World Doesn’t See by Mel Darbon gets an enthusiastic mention too.
The Summer Reading Challenge theme is… Ready, Set, Read! with Youth Sport Trust – this week The Reading Agency announced that they have teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust for a Summer Reading Challenge focused on reading, sport and play. The Summer Reading Challenge shines a light on the power of public libraries as a hub for local communities and will bring together the benefits of sport, play and creativity. The Youth Sport Trust has developed family activity cards, which alongside the official 2023 Summer Reading Challenge book collection, will aim to keep imaginations moving over the school holiday.
Book Trust Book Buzz Registration Open – Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles. They are all carefully selected by a panel of experts to ensure quality, suitability and to encourage reading for pleasure.
Children’s and teens roundup – the best new chapter books – a wonderful selection chosen by Kitty Empire for the Guardian. The Rescue of Ravenwood is one of my highlights of the year so far and I have indulged myself with a copy of Lesley Parr’s new book, Where the River Takes Us which sounds right up my street.
World Book Day World of Stories Audiobooks– a reminder that there are a range of free audiobooks for different ages and reading abilities available on the World Book Day website until 26th March.
Nikki Gamble’s Book Blast for March – this is an excellent way to keep up to date with the best new books every month and there’s also a chance to win a bumper box of books for your school. March’s Book Blast will be released on Thursday 16th March at 8pm and this months box of books competition ends on 31st March. The best way to make sure you don’t miss it is by signing up to the YouTube page via the link above.
An evening with Helen Rutter – Scholastic & Just Imagine invite you to an evening Helen Rutter to celebrate the publication of The Funniest Boy in the World. This free online event takes place on Wednesday 15th March from 7-8pm and tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.
Finally, some book reviews that caught my eye this week…
Namaste is a Greeting by Suma Subramaniam Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat – a review by Lucy Timmons for Just Imagine that finishes with “This book is peaceful and vibrant, still and energised, busy and slow all at the same time. A bit like life. Such a beautiful resource for any classroom where mindfulness and well-being are a fundamental part of the culture of the classroom.” Doesn’t this picture book sound wonderful!
Wild Song By Candy Gourlay – Joy Court has a wealth of experience in reviewing books for children and young people and her description of this companion novel to Bone Talk is hard to resist! “This is a potent and powerful novel that is as unforgettable as it is beautifully and accessibly written. It deserves a place on every award list and to be put into the hands of as many readers of any age as you can!”
That’s everything for this week and I hope that you have found something helpful included in the links or a new book to tempt you. My weekend reading is going to be Where The River Takes Us by Lesley Parr. Happy reading.
Thanks for another wonderful collection of items to enjoy Anne. I’m glad you liked the Katherine Rundell interview, I always find her very inspiring for someone so young. We are very fortunate to have Caroline Sanderson as writer in residence at the hospital in which my library is based this year. I’m looking forward to a writing workshop that she’s running for our library team in May 😊 Hopefully will improve the quality of my blog posts 🤞
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Thank you for prompting me to read the article Veronica, I found it interesting and would have missed it otherwise.
That’s interesting that you have Caroline Sanderson as writer in residence. However I think the quality of your blog posts is already high!
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You are very kind Anne, I fear they get rather repetitive at times so I’ll be looking forward to some inspiration from the workshop!
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