Reading Matters – children’s book news

Welcome to the this week’s look at what has been happening in the world of children’s books. This will be the last round up for this term and Reading Matters should be back some time after the Easter school holidays all being well.

What I’m reading…

For some time I have been following Scott Evans @MrEPrimary on Twitter and have regularly shared his recommendations, book lists and videos in Reading Matters. When I was asked if I would like to read and review his new book 100 IDEAS for Primary Teachers: Reading for Pleasure I was delighted to agree. The book is practical, accessible and brimming with enthusiasm and will, I think, help teachers implement some innovative suggestions in their own classroom and nurture a reading community in their school. A deceptively slim book that could make a big difference.

I have just finished reading Flower Power by Keith Campion, the sequel to Flower Boy and found myself caring greatly for James, the lead character. The story features the transition from primary to secondary school and James is a boy who has to deal with social anxiety and shyness making the transition all the harder for him. His friendship with Mrs Samuels, a local elderly woman continues in this sequel and this cross generational bond is a touching element of the satisfying plot. James’ development and gradual increase in confidence will reassure readers who share his feelings and the ending is an upbeat and positive one too. I can see this being a useful book for encouraging discussion in both Year 6 and 7. Keith Campion, a teacher, has thoughtfully included activities and research prompts for each chapter at the end of the book giving this an added appeal to schools.

Display in Richard Challoner School Library

The Surrey branch of the School Library Association held our Spring Term meeting this week kindly hosted by Fiona Glassett, librarian at Richard Challoner School, New Malden. Members were able to browse the spacious library and talk about library matters offering each other advice and support. The highlight however was our discussion with Pat Freestone-Bayes, owner of the Regency Bookshop in Surbiton, and Elizabeth Perry, Manager of Daunt Books, Summertown, Oxford. We learned a great deal about the world of publishing and book supply and most importantly the many services and tips that independent bookshops offer to school librarians. A reminder to make the most of the specialist service offered by your local indie bookshop.

News, articles and resources…

St Fagans’ Diversity Picture Book Awards 2023 – the aim of this award created by teacher Gethin Wallace is to promote reading for pleasure and widen learners’ world by celebrating diversity and inclusion. The school are hoping publishers will submit copies of recently published books to add to their longlist. If you are a publisher or author and would like to support this great initiative please contact the school via this email: The link above will take you to their Twitter account too.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels – A bullying beetle; an Irish myth; the search for a magical beast; and a gripping coming-of-age story set in Ghana are featured in this latest selection of new books for children chosen by Imogen Russell Williams for the Guardian.

English Language Shortlist Revealed for Tir Na N-Og Awards 2023 – The Tir na n-Og Awards are the oldest and most popular awards for children’s literature in Wales and are held every year by the Books Council of Wales, sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales. They celebrate the talents of authors and illustrators who either create original works in Welsh, or who write about authentically Welsh themes or backgrounds through the medium of English. The shortlist was announced last week and can be found via the link to the website above.

The Week Junior Book Awards Judging Panel – Each of the categories in this new award will be judged by a panel of three experts and a category chair. You can see the Shortlist Committee, responsible for selecting entries against the criteria who will meet in person to agree on the final shortlist for the Judges and the Judges themselves who include, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Cerrie Burnell and Scott Evans (See What I’m Reading!) and also find out more about the award on the website.

Bridging the gap between picture books and middle grade stories by Esi Merleh – Esi Merleh author of the Making Faces series has written a guest article for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups on a subject that will be of interest to parents and teachers.

Factual Books for Pleasure: Andy Seed on Children’s Reading – a guest post by Andy Seed, a Blue Peter Book Award-winning author, on the Books for Topics website about the place of information books as part of reading for pleasure for all. He discusses why some children prefer Non-Fiction and how factual books can work well as a way to get some children reading.

The 2023 Little Rebels Award Longlist – On behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers the 2023 Little Rebels Award longlist was revealed this week. The award celebrates radical fiction for children aged 0-12 and the shortlist will be announced on Monday 24th April.

Bookshops help us understand humanity’s complexities – when I returned home from my SLA meeting focussing on the many good things about an independent bookshop I came across this really lovely article by Robin Ince for the Big Issue. What perfect timing! This description is just perfect: “Passing on beauty, delight and compassion is one of the wonders of the library and the bookshop.”

BBC Front Row Programme featuring library funding – Front Row on 28th March included a feature on public libraries including an item on Stockton on Tees library and an interview with Nick Poole, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). You can catch up with this at about 15 minutes in on BBC Sounds above.

Dr Shini Somara:Engineers Making a Difference – if like me you missed this live event the recording is now available on The Book Channel with Nikki Gamble. Dr Shini Somara discusses her engineering background and her book Engineers Making a Difference with Nikki.

The Coronation draw-along with Rob Biddulph – To mark the Coronation the National Literacy Trust, in partnership with digital bank, Chase, is running a 2023 Children’s Book Celebration. The celebration invites pupils from across the UK to vote for their favourite book to create a Chase Coronation Booklist. To launch this celebration the National Literacy Trust invite you to a live online draw-along with bestselling, award-winning children’s author and illustrator, Rob Biddulph. Suitable for ages 7 to 11 (KS2/P4-P7), the live event will include the opportunity for children to craft their own coronation-inspired illustrations. To take part in Rob Biddulph’s live online draw-along on 24 April at 10am sign up on the website above.

News from Usborne March 2023: Peter Usborne CBE, died on Thursday 30th March – this is such sad news. For me and for countless others the Usborne name is synonymous with reliability and high quality children’s books. Sending condolences and sympathy to Peter Usborne’s family.

The Alligator’s Mouth Award for illustrated early fiction – Ten books have been longlisted for The Alligator’s Mouth Award 2023, which champions authors and illustrators of highly illustrated children’s fiction. Celebrating its fifth year, the children’s book prize created by The Alligator’s Mouth children’s bookshop and The Bright Agency, celebrates the best books for 6-8-year-olds.

The Reader Teacher Monthly Must Reads for March – Scott Evans’ picks of the month include Can You See Rainbows in Space? a book I mentioned last week and Where The River Takes Us, one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

Shortlists Announced for the UKLA Book Awards 2023 – The UKLA Book Awards are the only UK children’s book awards judged entirely by teachers. Key points from the shortlists announced this week include: a unique double shortlisting for past winner Manjeet Mann, author Susin Nielsen could be the first to win a category three times, UKLA and Carnegie shortlisting double for Katya Balen and Flying Eye Books the top performing publisher.

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

The Boy Who Disappeared and Other Stories by Rob Keeley – I don’t see many reviews of short story collections so this positive one on The Bookbag definitely should be highlighted. “This collection has something for everyone and concentrates on friendships and school settings. The stories are playful and engaging but always rooted in the real world of children’s lives. We loved them.

Crookhaven The School for Thieves by J J Arcano – Books for Keeps Book of the Week this first in a new mystery series sounds like a cracking read. “The plot is full of twists and turns, and cracks along at a very satisfying pace, and Crookhaven is definitely somewhere readers will want to spend time.”

That’s everything for this week and this term. I hope those of you now breaking up for the Easter holidays have a relaxing time and wish you a happy Easter.

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8 Responses to Reading Matters – children’s book news

  1. Thank you for including the link to Front Row Anne. I meant to listen to that during the week and then forgot, so I shall enjoy listening this afternoon. I hope you have a lovely Easter 🐣

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      It’s great to hear any media focus on libraries isn’t it. We have to keep shouting not shushing! Thank you Veronica I hope you have a lovely Easter too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love that phrase Anne! You are absolutely right, there is so much innovation and levelling up work being done in libraries, it needs to be spoken about wherever possible. I work in partnership with my local library network on their health and well-being offer and the range of projects that they offer is hugely impressive. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Usborne Books were a mainstay of nonfiction titles for our kids when they were growing up, though later I think they were rather overshadowed by the various Dorling-Kindersley series with their imaginative use of cutaways and colour photos to bring things alive. Such a shame about Peter Osborne though. I’ve yet to get to The Mab but I rather fancy a look at the other titles shortlisted for the Tir na N’Og award. Some time…

    But, yes, yes to Ince’s identification of books and their stores as purveyors of beauty, delight and compassion – we need more, not less! In the meantime, have a lovely break, and of course Pasg Hapus!

    Liked by 1 person

    • alibrarylady says:

      Yes, our two loved Usborne books when they were young both the nonfiction and the puzzle adventure series. They too graduated on to DK later. There’s been a real growth since then though and they were always popular in the school library. He leaves a real legacy but it’s a loss to the children’s book world though. I’ve a copy of the Mab which I still haven’t read. This may prompt me!
      Thank you Chris and a very happy Easter to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob Keeley says:

    Thank you so much, Anne, for including The Boy Who Disappeared and Other Stories. The Bookbag are a great team! Do let me know if you would be interested in reviewing the book yourself. You can find my contact details on About Me at Best wishes, Rob Keeley 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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