Tag Archives: children’s books

Little People, Big Dreams

25 Jan

Now more than ever we need to empower our girls and young women. We need to show them examples of women who have made a difference, who have stormed their way through glass ceilings. Because these women are so often erased from history, we need to work twice as hard to highlight their achievements. And that is why books like the Little People, Big Dreams series (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) are so important. 


These books feature trailblazing women as children, showing that no matter who you are or where you start in life, you can fulfil your dreams and achieve great things. 


They are brilliantly accessible and inspiring and the perfect way to start armouring the future generation of Nasty Women. I love the way they celebrate difference and show children that your uniqueness is your strength.


Each book includes a fact section and a list of further reading. I particularly like the inclusion of photographs of the women as children, to really show readers where these women came from and how they grew up to be such fantastic, inspirational women. 


These beautiful books really do deserve a place in every school library and classroom. They would work brilliantly with Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

You can get your copies here. And keep your eyes open for two new titles coming soon. 

Source – kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 

A writer begins – book recs and kidlit advice please!

8 Nov

Right you lovely lot, I need some reading recommendations. My lovely friend @timesforrhymes is embarking on his children’s book writing journey. Mr Tree is a lovely, smiley, brightside person who believes in the power of books and words and reading, of imagination and children and change… He’s going to fit right in! 

Naturally my first response upon hearing his news was to throw loads of books at him ‘for inspiration’! I love sharing my favourites and he has been a captive audience. But now, as he ponders with pen in hand, he has come across the questions we all ask ourselves – as readers, writers, reviewers, publishers, teachers, and librarians – Where do I fit? Where do these words belong? Who is my audience? What is a ‘children’s’ book anyway? 

He has written a post about it here, asking for advice and for people to share their hurdles and how they overcame them. (Please do pop over and join in) It’s made me really sit back and think about my own writing journey. About all the incredible books I’ve read in the last few years, of how we really are living in a golden age of children’s literature and how lucky we are to be able to immerse ourselves in such inspirational and top quality works that move boundaries and push against conventions of age and genre. I want to share All The Books with Mr Tree, but as he starts his new venture and tries to find his place I want to share the books that will help him to do so. He is a poet, a word bouncer, a rhyme and rhythm kind of guy. So far I have shared some Caryl Hart, some A.F. Harold, some Rabbit’s Bad Habits and Wigglesbottom Primary. Next on the list are the wonderfully word bouncy works of Elli Woollard, Sarah Crossan and Katherine Rundell. Then Nuts In Space and Nibbles the Book Monster, combined with a splash of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. And this is where you come in… 

I’m looking for books that cross genres, break conventions, use awesome rhymes and rhythms and play with words and language. What would you recommend? What can you share with a fellow booky – or a booky fellow -? Let us know in the comments here or on Mr Tree’s blog here. And maybe pop over to twitter and join him on his journey @timesforrhymes

The Rainbow Library

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ReaditDaddy’s wonderful campaign encouraging parents to read to their children has really caught the book blogging community’s imagination. The basic premise is to support and encourage people to read aloud to their children, and to work with other agencies to raise awareness. ReaditDaddy is busy blogging, reviewing and spreading the word and twitter seems full of positivity and commitment for the project.

I spent yesterday pondering how best to join in and support the campaign. I already read (a lot) to little miss rhino and we visit the library every week. I am passionate about the power of language and a strong believer in the importance of positive, quality books in childhood but I didn’t know what I could offer to the project other than a blog of support. I spent a lovely morning browsing blogs and reading around the project. I got learning and I got inspired.

Here are a few of the things that chimed with me when I read them.

The lovely Clara Vulliamy said:
“And if you hang onto only one thing:
of course they will love the books, they love the person reading them!”
And “Books aren’t ‘good for you’ like vegetables – they’re wild creatures you’re letting loose.”

I love that! ‘Wild creatures you’re letting loose.’ That really caught my imagination… and so began my cunning plan.

Catherine from Story Snug commented that
“My only New Year’s resolution (which I haven’t managed as much as I would have liked!) is also to read more in front of my daughter, I want to be a better role model so that she knows that I also enjoy reading and it is not something that I just do with her.”
Sold! Any excuse! I will read more in front of little miss rhino. That is something I can actively change.

And then I found this blog from Library Mice
“But I can’t help thinking that if each newborn had a book fairy, we wouldn’t face the dreadful reality of children not being able to read, and not being able to enjoy books.”

What a perfect point. So many children don’t have a bookcase of their own, don’t get read to every day, don’t get taken to the library, don’t have access to brilliant books that teach them about the world and their potential in it. What a better place the world would be if all children did have a book fairy who could perhaps resolve some of that. How could I set some books wild and become a book fairy???

So my pledge for readitdaddy’s campaign is to set up a book box library at the local nursery where children can borrow a book and take it home to read. It just so happens that tomorrow is International Book Giving Day and I’ve already bought a few Catherine Rayner books to give to the nursery. Yesterday I ran the idea past the nursery and today I raided the shops.

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The nursery has a catchment area that reaches into local deprived areas. The majority of children don’t have access to a wide range of books outside of the nursery. They don’t have great language skills and they don’t have great role models. This is where Readitdaddy’s campaign needs to be reaching. It also means there were a few things to think about when putting it all together.

• The books might not get returned.
Hey ho. I’m setting books loose into this library and if they don’t come back then a child has a book in their home that they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. I’m all fine with that prospect.

• The books might make it home but there might not be someone there who is willing, or able, to read it to them.
To counter this I have tried to include lots of books with pictures that tell a story and board books that children can explore independently.

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• The children (or parents) might not be interested.
I’ve tried to include really great books that will give children and adults a taste of wonderful language and illustration.

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But I’m very aware that these will be far removed from the day to day experience of a lot of the children. I’ve included some tv tie-in books to appeal to what they know and encourage the children to have a look. They might not have books at home but they’ll certainly know who Fireman Sam is.

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I have labelled all the books to say they belong to the Rainbow library and added a little notebook where staff and parents can keep a record of the books they take home. And now, the Rainbow Library is ready to rock.

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I’ve made a long-term commitment to the nursery to supply books for the library and support the running and use of it. In addition, I plan to monitor the books and see which children aren’t using the library, then I will go in to the nursery for an hour a week and read with those children.

Mission on!

How can you help?
Perhaps you could donate a book? Are you a children’s author or illustrator? Maybe you could donate one of your books. A book blogger? Maybe you could donate a review book? A publisher? Maybe you could send some review books this way. I promise that all review copies will be donated to Rainbow Library. A parent? Maybe you could sort out some books your child has grown out of and donate them?
Or… Perhaps you could become a book fairy and start your own book box library?
Perhaps you’ve done something similar and can offer me any advice or words of wisdom?

Tomorrow I will take the books to the nursery and set them loose. I’ll keep you posted!

UPDATE
See author and illustrator superstar and lady of loveliness, Clara Vulliamy’s blog of support for the Rainbow Library on her website here!

This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers

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“Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn’t always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW, that it was meant to be his. He thought he would call him Marcel.”
Most of the time Marcel is very obedient, abiding by the many rules on How to Be a Good Pet. But one dark day, while deep in the woods, someone else claims the moose as their own…
Is Marcel really Wilfred’s pet after all?

This Moose Belongs to Me is a brilliantly fun book that treats children as totally capable thinkers. It doesn’t patronise them. It isn’t a fluffy gentle book with a happy ending. It challenges. With words they will have to think about, ideas they will have to ponder, illustrations that they will have to unravel. This is a book that will encourage children to think and process what they are seeing and hearing. Hurrah!

Oliver Jeffers doesn’t simplify language for children. They will come across wonderful words that they may be unfamiliar with, like dumbstruck, enraged, proximity, compromise and PERILOUS! The language structure will need breaking down and even the illustrations themselves may be in an unfamiliar style and need their own unlocking.

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I too had to ponder over this text:
“The moose had a very good sense of direction, and Wilfred did not. And because the moose was particularly poor on Rule 7 [subsection b]: maintaining a certain proximity to home, Wilfred quickly learned to bring some string along on their outings so he could find his way back again.”

This doesn’t mean that this book is ‘too hard’ for small children. Quite the opposite. It is funny and beautiful and perfect for exploring together. It becomes a very interactive read.

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When Wilfred gets himself into a perilous situation he thinks about various options of escape. His thought bubble contains images rather than words, prompting children to examine the illustrations, discuss what the images in the thought bubbles might mean and whether or not they would be feasible routes of escape. They are encouraged to interact with the book, decode images and have their own opinions. All whilst laughing at crazy Wilfred and his zany ways. Beautiful!

And of course, in true Oliver Jeffers style, there is an element of wry humour throughout and a lovely last twist at the end. What more could you want from a book?

Source: Our lovely local library.