Category: Friday Assembly

National Non Fiction November

The theme for National Non Fiction November is Wonderful Water this year, so I have chosen four fabulous non-fiction books that fit this topic.

For our youngest children, I have chosen Little Lifecycles: Drip by Maggie Li. Drip is a little drop of water. In this book, learn how he will travel through the water cycle to become a tiny drip once again. This beautifully illustrated board book for the very young explores the journey of a raindrop.

Watch Drip travel through streams, rivers, the ocean and clouds to become a little drip once again. A die-cut right through to the last page of the book highlights that nature is full of changes, but that the story begins and ends with a tiny drop of water.

Next, I’ve chosen The Wonderful World Of Water by Sarah Garre and Marijke Huysmans, illustrated by Wendy Panders, where you can dip into any page of this fun, fact-filled book and discover the endless ways that water impacts and sustains life on earth.

Water is our planet’s most important resource, yet it’s easy to overlook its significance in our daily life. This kaleidoscopic journey across the planet offers fascinating insights into how water is connected to the air we breathe, the food we eat, and how our own actions can upset the delicate balance of its cycle. Readers will learn about how water journeys from ocean to sky to mountains, rivers, soil and back again; how water purification works; the flora and fauna of the rainforest; cloud formations and the weather they predict; natural phenomena such as the tiger bush; why rivers flood; what causes a tsunami.

Presented in lively and engaging double-page spreads, each topic is explored with quirky illustrations, trivia, and sidebars that encourage further exploration and experimentation. Best of all, it makes young readers aware just how deeply entwined their futures are with the health of our planet’s water.

The latest book in the Protecting The Planet series, Ice Journey Of The Polar Bear by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Lou Baker-Smith, it is not just a picture book; it’s a call to action, encouraging young readers to become stewards of the planet and protect the delicate balance of nature for generations to come.

For this polar bear, this is a sign it’s time to make a den, a safe place to sleep through the harsh Arctic winter and to give birth to her cubs. But the Arctic is changing; familiar landscapes are melting. What kind of world will her cubs grow up in? This beautifully illustrated picture book gently explores the effects of climate change on polar bears, along with information on how we can all make a difference and protect the planet for these majestic animals.

A poignant and visually captivating exploration of how climate change is impacting the lives of polar bears, Martin and Lou have combined beautiful illustrations with an engaging narrative to educate us all about the challenges faced by these majestic creatures. Through the eyes of a resilient mother bear, we are introduced to the harsh realities of climate change and its direct impact on the Arctic environment.

Finally, brimming with illustrations and information, By The Sea: Life Along The Coast by Judith Homoki and Martin Haake is a coast-to-coast journey through time and across continents introduces young readers to the historical and cultural importance of the world’s seashores.

Coasts have always been the starting point of discovery― whether by explorers searching for new lands or children sifting through the sand for beautiful shells. This trip around the world’s oceans provides hours of fun and learning in a series of highly detailed double-page spreads that look at every aspect of critical coastal habitats, including the ebb and flow of tides; life in a coastal settlement; artistic depictions of seashores; native animals and plants; the whaling industry; tourism; and climate change.

The book also provides a Twenty-First-Century corrective to Western-centric narratives about exploration and colonialism. Interspersed throughout are meticulously detailed maps of the world’s largest oceans with historic events, figures and scientific facts highlighted. As fun as it is informative, this vibrant book takes readers on a trip around the globe that fosters a feeling of connection between their lives and the world’s coastlines.

It also provides one of my favourite facts I’ve discovered this year about the origins of bobble hats – you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.

Happy reading and fact hunting!

Spooktacular Stories For Halloween

As we head into half-term for a well-earned week off, our thoughts turn to trick or treating and Halloween, so this week my theme is spooky books. I’m not a fan of horror and often need my cushion of comfort by my side when reading books designed to give safe scares, but these are well worth the nail biting…

For our youngest children, but brilliant for everyone, I’ve chosen Poultrygeist by Eric Geron and Pete Oswald.  A wry take on “Why did the chicken cross the road?” that gives a whole new meaning to “the Other Side”, and is perfect for opening discussions around peer pressure and integrity too.

It’s punny. It’s spooky. It’s a picture book that puts a fresh spin on an old joke and elevates chicken comedy to ghastly new levels. A little spring chicken crosses the road but quickly gets flattened under a semitruck. The barnyard beasts who’ve gone before break the news: now that Chicken’s fried—dispatched to the Other Side—Chicken has a job, an unwanted job, as a noisy troublemaking ghost. This fowl may be weak in the beak, but Chicken knows that scaring people isn’t nice. There is such a thing as a friendly ghost, after all—isn’t there? Loaded with laughs and shivers, this Halloween-ready treat features ghoulishly funny art by the illustrator of the #1 New York Times best-selling Bad Seed series. Let the haunting begin!

No chickens were harmed in the making of this book.

A World Full Of Spooky Stories by Angela McAlistair, illustrated by Madalina Andronic is the perfect collection of spooky stories from all over the world to help get you ready for Halloween.

Feel your pulse race and your skin tingle as you turn the pages of this spine-chilling anthology of spooky stories from around the world. Read all about the fearsome witch Baba Yaga, the serpent woman from Spain, the rescue of Tam Lin from the bewitching Queen of the Fairies, how Father Death gets caught in the Enchanted Apple Tree, and the water-dwelling Bunyip from Australia. Make sure you have your candle ready as it’s sure to be a long night… This gorgeous gift book is the perfect anthology for Halloween, or any time you want to be spooked!

Features stories from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Africa, Brazil, Japan, Australia, India, UK, Canada, France, China, Ireland, Syria, Korea, Sweden, Egypt, Iceland, New Zealand, Arabia, Spain, Tibet, Iran, Greece. The tales are expertly retold by Angela McAllister for spooky fun for the whole family and illustrated by Romanian born Madalina Andronic whose beautifully spooky images bring these stories to life before your very eyes.

Are you ready for story time with a spooky twist?

For Year 4 up, Goosebumps House Of Shivers: Scariest. Book. Ever. by R.L. Stein is the first in a brand new series that promises an all new line-up of incredible villains, with iconic monsters as you’ve never seen them before, whose antics are destined to make them every bit as beloved as Slappy.

When Billy and Betty are dropped off at their uncle’s, their parents leave before he’s even opened the door. When he tells them that he is the owner and protector of the scariest book ever, a book that if opened could unleash unbelievable horrors into the world, they really don’t know what to believe. And neither should you dear reader

Finally, for children who like spooks without quite so many scares, jump aboard The Train Of Dark Wonders By Alex Bell for a journey to strange and spectacular lands.

Following the death of her grandfather, Bess is handed the keys to his most prized possession – his Odditorium. She has always loved the strange and magical wonders within. But unless she can come up with a plan to draw in the crowds, she will have to close its doors for good.

When a mysterious train pulls into town heading for the Land of Halloween Sweets, it looks like this might be her chance to save the Odditorium. So Bess sneaks onboard. She is soon discovered by Beau the puppeteer, Louis the violinist and Maria the fire witch. Eager to prove herself useful, she offers to help them hunt for the rarest of all candies – the ghostly gobstopper. But beneath its sugary exterior, the land is more dangerous than it looks…

Happy reading and have a wonderful half-term!

Books To Make You Hungry

This week celebrated International Food Day, and it is still Chocolate Week, so all of this week’s recommendations have a food theme…

I’m starting off with Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, which is 25 year old!

“Deep in the woods, there’s an old white cabin with pumpkins in the garden.
There’s a good smell of soup and at night, with luck,
You might see a bag-piping Cat through the window and a Squirrel with a banjo,
And a small singing Duck.”

Cat, Duck and Squirrel spend their days making pumpkin soup. Cat slices, Squirrel stirs and Duck adds the salt. But, when Duck decides that he wants to stir the soup, they start to squabble.

A beloved, rhythmic story about the importance of friendship and sharing, stunningly illustrated in autumnal colours, this story is perfect to read aloud. And, even better, there are two more stories with Cat, Squirrel and Duck to enjoy!

Next, I’m staying with soup, but moving up to Year 5 and 6 with The Soup Movement by Ben Davis. A Coventry Inspiration Book Award Winning author, Ben is a genius when it comes to stories that will have you laughing out loud one minute and reaching for the tissues with a turn of the page.

To aid his recovery from a life-threatening illness Jordan and his family move out of the city for a healthy new start. Jordan’s getting enough funny looks as the new boy at school as it is, without his Mum giving him homemade soup every day for lunch! But when Jordan meets a homeless man called Harry, and gives him the soup, it is the start of an unlikely friendship. Soon the two of them begin giving soup to the other homeless people around town and when his sister shares their antics on Instagram the #SOUPMOVEMENT begins-they even make it on the news!

One of my favourite books ever, The Soup Movement is one that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Jordan, Rio and Harry are each complex characters who grow and change as the story develops. And, if you’re a child of the 1980’s reading this, get ready to go dancing in the sand with Duran, Duran again.

Moving to non-fiction, and away from soup, we have How Many Ways Can You Cook An Egg? by Lizzie Mabbott, illustrated by Charlotte Dumortier.  From shopping to chopping, this recipe book is packed full of ideas and tips to get kids cooking in the kitchen.

This family cook book is a celebration of all things food – and the joy of eating. From global recipes, to tips on sourcing fresh ingredients, and how different foods can be prepared and enjoyed, this beautifully illustrated cook book is a visual feast and delight to the senses.

Learn how to make dumplings, apple turnovers, spiced fish fingers and other delicious dishes from around the world, with fun and encouraging text by award-winning cook Lizzie Mabbott. Fun artwork by Charlotte Dumortier brings each recipe to life.

How Many Ways Can You Cook An Egg? will excite and inspire young children to get involved in the whole cooking process, and bring families together at mealtimes.

And finally, we’re off on a fact filled sensory adventure in How Does Chocolate Taste On Everest? by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe, illustrated by Aaron Cushley.  Don’t get too comfortable. This isn’t the type of book you can snuggle up with under the covers. Not even close! You’re off on the expedition of a lifetime to experience the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and tastes of the world’s most extreme places.

Have you ever wondered what the buzz of the rainforest sounds like on a trek through the Amazon? Or how it would feel to experience the biting cold as you voyage across Antarctica? Or how about how chocolate would taste on Mount Everest? From every heart-bursting sight to tummy-lurching bite, this is a truly immersive round-the-world adventure, where YOU are the explorer.

Happy reading (and fooding)!

Friday Library Recommendations: Poetry

Yesterday was National Poetry Day, so I’m sharing some poetry books by the inimitable Michael Rosen for everyone to enjoy. From classics like We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and Little Rabbit Foo Foo, to the utterly hilarious Chocolate Cake, Michael Rosen has a huge catalogue of poetry and prose to find refuge in. Here are a few of my favourites, and a sneak peek at his latest picture book, told in verse, that will be in the shops from the end of October.

I’m going to start with A Great Big Cuddle, which is brings two of the biggest names in children’s publishing, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, together in this poetry collection to be enjoyed by the oldest grown-up and the youngest child.

The poems in A Great Big Cuddle fizz off the page with sound and rhythm, energy and laughter, as Rosen captures in the most remarkable way what it means to be very, very young. A child’s world with all its details and feelings – toys and games, animals and made-up creatures, likes and dislikes – is vividly conjured up in the most memorable, playful language, and Chris Riddell has produced some his most extraordinary pictures ever to bring this world to life.

Next, I’ve picked Even My Ears Are Smiling – a brilliant book of poems that are funny, thought-provoking and, as always with Michael’s work, immediately accessible and told through a child-centred voice.

The poems included are a mix of classic favourites and also many brand new poems. The cheeky, full-colour illustrations by much loved Babette Cole make the perfect partnership, and again, perfect for any age. These really will leave you smiling from ear to ear , with a spring in your step!

For older children, Michael Rosen’s Big Book Of Bad Things is a wonderfully exuberant yet poignant poetry collection.

Here are tales of childhood, from the horrors of being late for school, to making a raft, and going to a cafe, as well as poems to ponder – just think, how great would Satnav trousers be! Touching, light-hearted and funny, Michael’s poems will delight readers young and old.

And finally, lots of the books we read are told in verse, and so with Autumn trying it’s hardest to make an appearance, my last book this week (which hasn’t been released yet, but I was very lucky to be sent an early copy) is a stunning new picture book by Michael that is a hug in book form.

The Big Dreaming is an uplifting story, full of hope in the face of fears, floating on Daniel Egneus’s lustrous illustrations.

The Cold is coming, and it’s time for Big Bear and Little Bear to get ready for the Big Sleep: for bears sleep all winter long, and wake up in the spring. But Little Bear is worried. What if they run out of dreams during the Big Sleep?

And so, Little Bear sets out bravely to find enough dreams to see them through the long winter. On his journey, he discovers dreams of happiness; dreams of homecoming; and dreams of hope. But with the Cold approaching fast, will Little Bear make it back home in time for the Big Dreaming?

Happy reading!




Reading Is Magic Festival

“Reading is magic, and magic is for everyone!”

Cressida Cowell, author, illustrator and former Children’s Laureate. 

The Reading Is Magic Festival takes place in October, and is free for schools and home to engage with a whole host of authors and illustrators for every age group. We have been lucky enough to be able to ask Cressida Cowellthe very first question in her event this year.

This week’s Friday Library Recommendations highlight some of the books, authors and illustrators featured in this year’s festival.

Wheels by Tom Schamp

No one knows who exactly invented the wheel, but in the inventive hands of illustrator Tom Schamp young readers will have great fun learning about all the ways wheels have rolled through history. From prehistoric carts to cars of tomorrow, this big, fun book takes a historic journey through a world where everything has wheels, from the Trojan horse to the Harley Davidson; from the stagecoach and the steam train to the Vespa and the Ferrari; from skateboards to electric scooters.

Every spread of this deliriously entertaining and educational book is filled with Tom Schamp’s quirky and colorful art. His sly, subtle texts will make older readers smile. Younger readers will return again and again to these playfully crowded pages to discover what different countries’ emergency vehicles look like; to learn about buses of every imaginable dimension and weight; and to choose which bike they’d use to win a race. Each viewing will reveal charming new details that are as absurdly funny as they are educationally rewarding.

Over The Shop by JonArno Lawson and Qin Leng

A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the rooms above their shop will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the potential of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways.

In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A wordless picture book that celebrates the power of community, the joys of new friends and the magic that happens when you open your heart, and fill your home with love and joy.

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a smallish Viking with a longish name. Hiccup’s father is chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe which means Hiccup is the Hope and the Heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne – but most of the time Hiccup feels like a very ordinary boy, finding it hard to be a Hero. In the first of the twelve book series, Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be banished from the tribe forever!

But what if Hiccup’s dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has no teeth? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk… Can Hiccup save the tribe – and become a Hero?

This fantastical series has been around for twenty years now, and is the inspiration behind blockbusting films and the endearing and entertaining TV series, Riders Of Berk. They are as staggeringly good now as when they first hit our bookshelves, and are packed full of fun, mischief and moral dilemmas perfect for helping young heroes be a touch more heroic when needed.

Nic Blake And The Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas

I was delighted to see Angie Thomas writing for Primary school children having adored her books for young adults, and this thrilling fantasy was even better than my high expectations. Reading like a film playing out in front of me, Nic Blake is an exhilarating adventure weaving Black history and culture into an innovative, richly imagined new world that sits alongside our own.

It’s not easy being Remarkable in a world where standing out is dangerous…

Nic Blake is a Manifestor. All she wants is to learn the Gift, so she can be as powerful as her dad … until she discovers a shocking secret. Now she must find a powerful magical weapon, or risk losing him for ever.

You can find out more about the Reading Is Magic Festival here and join in at home!

The UKLA Outstanding Longlists 2024

Every year, the UK Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Awards, which is the only national children’s book awards to be judged by teachers, produces a longlist of outstanding titles from picture books to non-fiction.

These are a few of my favourites to be longlisted for primary aged children.

Join the brilliantly passionate and instantly loveable Rocket as she organises a peaceful protest to save her local library, in Speak Up! by Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola.

Bookworm Rocket loves to collect new books on her weekly visit to the library, and to read all about inspirational figures like Rosa Parks. She is heartbroken when she discovers the library will be closing down! Can she use what she’s learnt from Rosa and speak up to save the day?

This empowering, heartwarming picture book is a love letter to libraries and the power of reading. And it shows the incredible power we ALL have when we find our voice and speak up about the things that matter.


More classic storytelling from the acclaimed author of Sky Hawk and Song of the River, as a shy rat is forced to undergo a perilous quest to return a diamond to its rightful owners, in Moonflight by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Pippa Curnick.

Can a timid rat ever become a hero? Tilbury is about to find out on the adventure of a lifetime, journeying across the sea to the realm of the dreaded White Death, to return a priceless diamond to its rightful owners. A marvellous adventure begins and a truly intrepid hero is born within a magical mix of mirth and mystery with enough of a pinch of peril to keep readers hooked to the end.


The blackbirds’ song uplifts and restores in Birdsong by Katya Balen and illustrated by Richard Johnson.

After a devastating car crash, Annie is unable to play her flute and retreats from the music she’s always loved. She exists in a world of angry silence – furious with her mum and furious she can’t seem to play her beloved flute any more.

Then she meets Noah, who shows her the blackbirds’ nest hidden in the scrubland near their flats. As their friendship grows, the blackbirds’ glorious song reignites Annie’s passion for music. But when tragedy strikes again, will her fragile progress be put at risk?

And finally, from the non-fiction section, Unspoken by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter, is a must-read for all children and adults alike from Year 5 up, and the perfect companion to Kwame Alexander’s award-winning picture book The Undefeated.

How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror? About strength and pride and refusing to be broken? One that still hurts and still loves?

A powerfully moving, poetic exploration of the story of slavery: from Africa to the tall ships, from back-breaking work in a strange land to resilience and eventual emancipation, Kwame Alexander tells the story that’s hard to hear. Told through the lens of a teacher speaking to their young pupils, and in multiple art styles from award-winning artist and sculptor Dare Coulter, the story of slavery becomes one that you can tell with the bravery to lift your voice. Visually stunning, this is a book that will stay with you for a long time.

The full longlists, including books for secondary school children, can be found on the UKLA website.

Happy reading!

If you love Roald Dahl…

Welcome back to the first Friday Library Recommendations of the school year! Congratulations to everyone who completed the Summer Reading Challenge.  On Wednesday, it was Roald Dahl Day, so this week, I have picked books that have the same dark humour and dastardly villains.

Firstly, I have The Terribly Friendly Fox by Susannah Lloyd and Ellie Snowdon. 

When Gerald the fox turns up at the Annual Woodland Creatures’ Ball, a few of the guests are a little concerned. After all, they’ve heard some rather alarming rumours about foxes and their appetites. But they needn’t have worried – Gerald is a vegetarian fox, and the life and soul of the party! In fact, he’s terribly friendly.

A darkly funny story, with artwork from the creator of Great Bunny Bakes, Ellie Snowdon.

Next, for newly confident readers, PESTS by Emer Stamp is the first is a fabulously funny series. When the lights go off, the PESTS come out! Meet Stix, the tiny but heroic mouse who might be living behind your washing machine. But is he naughty enough to join the PESTS?

Stix is the size of an egg cup, can jump the width of a dog’s bottom, and LOVES cheese. That’s because Stix is a mouse. He probably lives behind your washing machine, but you wouldn’t know it, because his grandma taught him to always stay out of trouble and never let the humans know he’s there. But now Stix has stumbled across P.E.S.T.S. – the Peewit Educatorium for Seriously Terrible Scoundrels – in the basement of his building, and along with a whole host of new pesty friends (and enemies), he’s about to rip up Grandma’s rule book and make a real pest of himself…

For Year 3 and up, I’ve picked The Magic Place by Chris Wormell, a thrilling, moving and funny adventure about looking for the most magical place of all – home.

From her cellar bedroom, Clementine dreams of a magic place. And she’s determined to find it one day. But first she must escape from her wicked aunt and uncle and from the Great Black City. With the help of her best friend, Gilbert, a very clever cat, she sets off on an epic journey that just might make her dreams come true.

And finally, one of my favourite children’s series, Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard. 

Darkus can’t believe his eyes when a huge insect drops out of the trouser leg of his horrible new neighbour. It’s a giant beetle – and it seems to want to communicate. But how can a boy be friends with a beetle? And what does a beetle have to do with the disappearance of his dad and the arrival of Lucretia Cutter, with her taste for creepy jewellery?

Full of charm and quirkiness, with characters to both love and loathe, M.G. Leonard creates a tale of mystery, adventure and beetles with a side order of slapstick that just cries out for one more chapter, which is how I finished it in a day!

Happy reading!

Reception Challenge Miss Cleveland: Food!

It’s the final theme challenge of the year, and Reception have chosen food. Grab your (healthy) snacks and get ready to read some delicious books!

Food Fight by Alex Latimer is a laugh-out-loud picture book about conflict resolution as we join Grape and Mushroom on their mission for peas on Earth.

The Fruits and the Vegetables have been fighting FOREVER! But best friends Grape and Mushroom decide it’s time for things to change. They meet in secret and hatch a plan to end the fighting once and for all. And so, they set off on an epic journey to the very top of the fridge to ask the legendary Wise Old Cheese for help-that is, if he even exists. Join these tiny peace envoys on their courageous mission as they eventually find the solution in an unexpected place…

Highly illustrated throughout, Bad Food: Game Of Scones by Eric Luper and Doodle Boy is a laugh out loud epic tale of a fight for power as the heat rises in Belching Walrus Elementary.

Somewhere deep within the walk-in pantry at Belching Walrus Elementary lives an array of different foods that live in harmony. There are baskets of fruits and veggiesa cooler filled with chocolate milks and apple juices, and a freezer for ice-creams and yet-to-be-nuked chicken fingers.

One day, the Supplies from the Principal’s office show up and insist on sharing the coolness of the cooler. Their ruler is a ruler (pun intended) named Baron von Lineal. The Baron argues that they work harder than anyone in Belching Walrus Elementary while food just sits around. As such, the residents of the pantry have no choice but to open their doors. Anyhow, there’s plenty of room in the cooler for everyone, right? Wrong! The Baron and his cohorts take over the pantry in no time!

To free their fellow food, it’s up to three young heroes SliceScoop and Totz to venture out of the pantry and foil the Baron’s plan for good.

There is a special kind of everyday magic in Bridget Vanderpuff and The Baked Escape by Martin Stewart. Love and hope triumph over misery in this riotously funny, laugh-out-loud, hug of a book.

Bridget Baxter is the very last orphan at the Orphanage for Errant Childs, left at the mercy of the awful Miss Acrid and her foul-smelling fish sandwiches. Miss Acrid’s mission is to make Bridget’s life a misery. But Bridget is more than a match for her.

When kindly Mr Vanderpuff arrives at the Orphanage in search of a child to care for, Bridget thinks her luck has finally turned. Mr Vanderpuff is the village baker, and his shop is a world of wonders. But they soon discover that Bridget is absolutely terrible at baking. When Miss Acrid returns for the ultimate revenge, Bridget must open the Locked and Secret Door, navigate Miss Acrid’s spiderweb of booby traps and use her unique baking skills to save herself – and Mr Vanderpuff – from certain disaster.

Join Bridget as she dons her chef whites and gets the kwassongs at the ready… Baking isn’t such a piece of cake.

Midnight Feasts: Tasty Poems chosen by A.F. Harrold, and illustrated by Katy Riddell will have the poetry and food fans in your life licking their lips as this scrumptious illustrated hardback contains over 50 poems about every type of food imaginable!

Food is the one thing that unites us all – across time, nations and peoples. From chocolate, rice pudding and sandwiches to breakfast in bed, marmalade in the bath and the fruit of a mythical jelabi tree, in Midnight Feasts A.F. Harrold brings together a wonderful and diverse collection of poems to tickle your taste buds.

Poets include Ian McMillan, Brian Patten, Choman Hardi, Imtiaz Dharker, William Carlos Williams, Salena Godden, Joseph Coelho, Sabrina Mahfouz, Lewis Carroll, W.S. Gilbert and A.E. Housman, as well as A.F. Harrold himself.

Happy reading!

The Reading Agency Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge, presented by The Reading Agency and funded by Arts Council England, is the UK’s biggest reading for pleasure programme for primary school aged children. Each year the Challenge motivates children to read for pleasure over the summer holidays. Children can sign up for free at a participating library or take part online on the official Summer Reading Challenge website!

From Saturday 8 July children aged 4 – 11 can come and collect their Summer Reading Challenge free fun collector pack, stickers and goodies at a Coventry Library.  At two further visits to libraries through the summer children can collect more stickers to complete their Challenge.  Children don’t need to be big readers to enter the Challenge.

This year, The Reading Agency is partnering with national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust for Ready, Set, Read!, a sports and games themed Challenge that aims to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break. Find out more here.

I have chosen some of my favourites from this year’s collection.

You’re So Amazing by James & Lucy Catchpole and Karen George is a groundbreaking picture book exploring how we respond to disability.

When people meet Joe, they often treat him as Amazing Joe or Poor Joe. But can’t he just be … Joe?

One-legged Joe is ‘amazing’. He knows this because wherever he goes people always tell him he’s amazing. Amazing for sliding down the slide, for kicking a ball … even walking to get an ice cream, or even just eating an ice cream. Of course, being Amazing Joe is better than being Poor Joe…

Call The Puffins by Cath Howe is a wonderfully warm, witty book to kick off this gorgeous series for younger readers, whether reading at bedtime with a grown up or as an early independent chapter book. Teamwork, resilience and playing to your strengths are all key themes as Muffin gets to grips with life in the colony.

Welcome to the island of Egg where a group of young puffins are training to join a search and rescue team. Meet Muffin who is following in her dad’s footsteps and anxious not to let him down. Meet Tiny whose eyesight is a challenge which won’t stop him for long. And meet Forti who seems so over-confident but is really desperate to impress. Along with their fellow recruits, the puffins must work together to help all the birds on the island.

Johnny Ball Accidental Football Genius by Matt Oldfield is a laugh out loud, relatable tale from kick off to the final whistle.

Johnny Ball LOVES football. He loves reading about it, talking about it, watching it – and he loves playing it too. He’s a good player, but not quite good enough to make the Tissbury Primary School team for the super-huge Under-11s County Cup. But never mind, because their clueless coach, Mr Mann, has a special role for Johnny: ASSISTANT MANAGER! With only Grandpa George’s old scarf, a ‘pocket’ notebook and his brilliant football brain, can Johnny lead the Tissbury Primary team all the way to County Cup glory?

And finally, I was delighted to see Sunny by Jason Reynolds on the list – I am a huge fan of the whole Track Series, which starts with Ghost, about four children from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school running team – a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose and a lot to prove. Not only to each other, but to themselves. Sunny is my favourite of the four books with a rhythmic quality that at times reads like a verse novel.

When Sunny stops running in the middle of a race, Coach asks him what he wants to do instead. His answer is dance, but you can’t be on a track team and dance… can you? With his dad’s expectations weighing down on him, Sunny finally finds a track event that feels like dancing. But as he practices for this new event, can he let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside?

Happy reading!

Reading For Wellbeing!

Reading for pleasure has been shown to reduce stress and improve the mental health and well-being of children and young people in a number of studies, so as it’s healthy schools week, we are celebrating the amazing work children have been doing in their lunchtime book clubs.

Children from Year 5 and 6 have edited manuscripts through Barrington Stokes Young Editors Scheme. We have been lucky enough to work on Calling The Whales by Jasbinder Bilan, and Marvin And The Book Of Magic by Coventry Inspiration Book Award runner-up, Jenny Pearson.

This is a fantastic opportunity for children to not only read books before they are published, but to help ensure they are readable, exciting and entice children to read them. Thank you to all of the children who have chosen to come along at lunchtime to do this, and here’s a message from Jasbinder: “I feel honoured to have this thoughtful and intelligent feedback ! Thank you!”

Until now, Young Editors has only been available to our older children, but having spoken to them about how brilliant it is, they have agreed to put on a manuscript for our Year 3 and 4 readers. I am really looking forward to working with them on Lisa Thompson’s new book due out later this year.

Some of our children in Year 3 and 4 have been working extremely hard to put together a presentation for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards Celebration Event. We were honoured to be asked to present the award for the Telling Tales Category to Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey for their hilarious book, Bad Panda. You can watch them perform here. I think you can agree that not only are they wonderful ambassadors for Reading For Pleasure, but also for our school.

Unfortunately, neither could make it to the ceremony, but both had sent through lovely messages for the awards ceremony, and Swapna sent through this message after watching the video:

“Oh my goodness!! Your brilliant, brilliant kids!! My heart is so full right now. You must be so proud of them. “

Lily Bailey, who won the Year 5&6 age group – Hooked on Books – said, “The Bad Panda presentation was amazing, so entertaining and I kept thinking “Swapna needs to see this!!” They were brilliant, true pros!!”

Our ambassadors were also presented with the trophies for our Year 5 & 6 Hooked on Books Quiz Team who came third in the schools quiz back on World Book Day. They worked incredibly hard reading all eight titles shortlisted in preparation for the quiz. Although none of us could remember Twitch’s real name until the round was over, I don’t think any of us will ever forget it!

And finally, if you are after some tips on how to encourage your child to read for pleasure, please take a look at this article written by author, S.F. Said, for BookTrust, featuring tips by school librarians who inspire me daily, and one you may recognise.

Happy reading!