Would the person who insists on sending unwanted and unreadable comments in Chinese to my blog please stop doing so. All comments are moderated by me and so do not appear on the blog. You are wasting my time and yours.
Hi! Thanks for visiting and supporting Kids Books UK. For various reasons I have decided not to continue posting to this blog. I will remove or update posts with out of date information, but leave posts which are still relevant. You will still be able to access Kids Books UK to read previous posts.
I am in the process of setting up a new blog, Storyadore for anyone who loves reading and/or writing stories The blog will provide regular information, tips, prompts, competitions and more. I'll post a link to this here and on social networks, to my groups etc once it's live. I hope you'll adore Storyadore!
Apologies for not posting to my blog for such a long time. I've been very busy, writing and reading children's fiction. I have written two pieces of children's fiction for the Writing for Children module of the MA and two traditional animal folk tales in verse for the Letters to Africa book.
I've also read all ten booksshortlisted for the Lancashire Book Award. This shortlist was drawn up by children from schools across Lancashire. The winner will be announced on 28th May during a special event at which children will discuss the books and vote for their favourite. I was part of a group of adults who shadowed the event. We met at the University of Central Lancashire last week to discuss the books and vote for our own favourite. I'm not allowed to say which book won the vote until the winner of the award is announced, but will reveal all then.
The shortlisted books are:
Bloodchild by Tim Bowler (OUP Oxford)
Stolen by Lucy Christopher (Chicken House)
The Spook’s Sacrifice by Joseph Delaney (Bodley Head)
Grass by Cathy MacPhail (Bloomsbury)
Bang Bang You’re Dead by Narinder Dhami (Corgi Children’s)
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (Puffin)
Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison (Harper Collins)
Out of the Blue by Val Rutt (Piccadilly Press)
Numbers by Rachel Ward (Chicken House)
Saving Rafael by Leslie Wilson (Anderson Press)
My personal top five are: Bloodchild, Saving Rafael, Stolen, Grass and Numbers.
Writing this from Kabwe where I'm with the Sport in Action Students getting letters for The letters to Africa project. I've made lots of contacts and will be going to my first school tomorrow. Yesterday I saw the Sports In Action team in action for the first time, playing sports and traditional games with well over a hundred children from on eof the poorest areas of Zambia. It was an amazing experience and I got some fabulous photographs. Paulka, the photographer has taken about four or five hundred.
Next week I am going to Zambia to research and write material for a book produced by students of the MA in Writing for Children and MA in Publishing at the University of Central Lancashire. My visit is in conjunction with an Education through Sport project, whose aim is to educate on health issues through sport and games.
Other members of the writing/publishing team will be visiting Kenya next month. On both visits, we will take letters written by primary children across Lancashire, to which African children will write replies. We will also aim to get answers to the many interesting questions the children asked in their letters.
The book, Letters to Africa, will include some of those letters between English and African children as well as facts and fiction on Africa, a glossary of the Maa language and photographs and illustrations by university students. All profits from sales of the book will go to provide educational resources in Africa. I will produce both fact and fiction for the book, so will be keeping a journal and conducting interviews as part of my research while I'm in Zambia. If I have access to a computer/web I'll post updates on my blog while I'm away, otherwise I'll do so when I return.
Once again, congratulations are due to multi-award-winning author David Almond, who has been shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen prize, awarded biennially since 1956 to an author “whose complete works have made lasting contributions to children’s literature”. An impressive line-up of past winners includes Eleanor Farjeon, Tove Jansson and Astrid Lindgren. This year's winner will be announced on 23 March.
As we announced in an earlier newsletter, David is also nominated for The Astrid Lindgren award, which is presented a day later, on 24 March, at Lindgren’s birth place in Vimmerby, Sweden. The award is worth SEK5m (£460,000) and is given to a body of work “in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren, with a focus on a profound respect for democratic values and human rights”.
(March 19th New WritingNorth Newsletter)
As regular blog readers know, David is my favourite children's author. In fact he's my favourite author all round. His nominations are well deserved as anyone who's read his books will agree.
Did you know that you can listen to the stories featured in this year's World Book Day books read by famous authors and actors online. This is available through a project called, Read to a Million Kids. Click on the link: http://www.readtoamillionkids.co.uk/ Then click on the red videos tab at the top of the home page. Scroll down the page and choose the books you want to hear. You might like to read about the authors too. If so click on the blue tab.
The books themselves are still available for just a pound. They're especially good value this year as they contain two books in one. Children: If you've still got your token don't forget to trade it in by the end of March for one of the free books or use it to get a pound off a book or audio book of your choice. Adults: check out the fabulous books and recordings which cover the full age range of children's books from pre-school to teenage. Let me know which you read or listen to and what you thought.
Don't miss this research-based article from the Independent. It's extremely interesting to anyone interested in children's reading.
Boys read as much as girls, but prefer the simpler books
At all ages, girls score more highly on reading tests, survey shows
By Richard Garner, Education Editor
The Independent: Monday, 1 March 2010
Girls are reading Stephanie Meyer's 'Twilight' saga, while boys are turning to Peter Lancett's 'Dark Man' series
First the good news: boys are reading as much as girls. Now the bad: the books they choose are far less challenging and easier to comprehend than those selected by girls, and this gets worse as they grow older.
The findings of a major study of 100,000 children's reading habits coincide with national curriculum test results which show that – at all ages – girls score more highly on reading tests. "Boys are clearly reading nearly as much as girls, a finding that may surprise some onlookers," said Professor Keith Topping, of the University of Dundee's school of education, who headed the study. "But boys are tending to read easier books than girls. The general picture was of girls reading books of a consistently more difficult level than boys in the same year."
The gap in the standard of their reading habits becomes most marked between the ages of 13 and 16, the report says. The favourite girl's book in this age group is Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, the first in the vampire romance series that has sold 85 million copies worldwide. This was ranked far more difficult to read than the boys' favourite, The Dark Never Hides, from the British novelist Peter Lancett's Dark Man series, illustrated fantasy novels aimed at reluctant teens and young adults struggling to read.
The study notes that both sexes tend to choose books that are easier to read once they reach the age of 11 and transfer to secondary school. Compared with a similar study two years ago, the Harry Potter author JK Rowling has tumbled down the top 10 most popular children's authors, from second to ninth place.
Boys, in particular, chose not to read her books, which are considered more challenging than many other children's titles. "Perhaps the lapse in popularity of the Harry Potter books ... has left boys with few high difficulty books they have the urge to attack," Professor Topping added.
One author to shoot into the top 10 for the first time - at number two - is Roderick Hunt, whose 300 The Magic Key books, following the lives of three children and their dog, Floppy, are used in 80 per cent of British schools to teach people how to read. Roald Dahl still tops the chart.
The report, commissioned by Renaissance Learning, which pioneers online reading tests widely in use in US schools to determine the reading age of children, recommends that teachers should closely monitor the reading habits of their pupils, particularly the boys. "As with adult reading, kids will not always read to the limit of their ability," Professor Topping said. "Even high-achieving readers do not challenge themselves enough as they grow older."
The report recommends an expansion of the school library service, with schools encouraged to stock every book which appears in the top 10 favourites for each age group. The children's reading habits were confirmed by taking online quizzes on the books they had read.
The findings reverse the conclusions of a similar survey two years ago when boys were found to be opting for harder-to-read books than girls.
The White Giraffe by Lauren St John was so good I read it in one go. Eleven-year old Martine loses both parents in a house fire. She goes to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa, but this is a mixed blessing as her grandmother makes her feel unwelcome and the reserve is out of bounds. Martine uncovers secrets about her past and that of her family and befriends the mysterious white giraffe she calls Jeremiah. Shunned by her classmates, who call her a witch, Martine finds solace in her special friendship with the giraffe. But Jeremiah's life is in danger and Martine doesn't know who, if anyone, she can trust. The White Giraffe tackles difficult subjects including death, prejudice and animal cruelty through sensitive storytelling combined with compelling plot and realistic characters. David Dean's illustrations are as beautiful as Lauren St John's writing!
The winner of this year's Costa Book Awards Children's Book Category is Patrick Ness for The Ask and the Answer, the second book in his Chaos Walking trilogy in which Todd and Viola are separated and forced to make seemingly impossible choices.
Shortlisted books were: Troubadour by Mary Hoffman, an historical story of love and war set in 13th century France, Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera, in which a fifteen year old Muslim boy is abducted and taken to Guantanamo Bay while on holiday in Pakistan and Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd a novel described as both heartbreaking and hilarious in which unhappy heroine, Holly, transforms her character when she discovers a blond wig. The shortlist offers something for all tastes for teenager readers upwards. So choose one or two and get reading!
Dorothy loves writing and encouraging others to write too! When one of her stories for children won the Pinestein Press Things that go Bump competition she was asked to write three short stories, The Ghost Twin Tales which appeared in the book, Mini Mysteries and Kooky Spookies. Another competition winning story, Munch the Storytelling Cow, was recorded as a podcast by celebrity TV presenter, Gail Porter.
Dorothy is currently studying for an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Central Lancashire and is featured in the UCLan publication Letters to Africa, an exciting publication containing leters, fiction, facts, illustrations and photographs.