Read of the Week: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

This week’s Read has been chosen by Facilities Manager Nicola who reflects on the beloved children’s story Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

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Read of the Week: Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

This week’s read is recommended by Storybarn developer Holly who has chosen Shaun Tan’s fantastic Tales from Outer Suburbia.

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A Little, Aloud for Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it has us thinking about the literary mums celebrated in our A Little, Aloud anthologies so we thought we’d share our recommended reads for Mother’s Day.

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On the big screen: A Monster Calls

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As Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls hits the big screen on New Year’s Day, our patron Frank Cottrell Boyce explores the interesting story behind the novel.

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Find a Christmas gift for all at The Reader

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There’s no hiding from it anymore, Christmas is coming. But don’t panic, we’ve got bookish gifts all wrapped up!

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Recommended Read: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

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This month’s Recommended Read comes from our work experience student, Amy Parry who reviews the celebrated Young Adult novel, I’ll Give You The Sun.

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Children’s Book Week: The Reader Organisation recommends

We’re in the middle of Children’s Book Week 2014, an annual celebration of reading for pleasure that has been running for over 80 years. Children’s Book Week is all about encouraging children to find the fun in reading, stimulating them to discover new books and extend their reading choices, share and discuss books with their friends and find new, exciting ways to enjoy literature.

All of the groups we run throughout the UK for children and young people are focused entirely upon reading for pleasure, and our Project Workers read a wide variety of books and stories with our young readers of all ages with a list that is growing by the week. For more information about our work with young people and in education settings, see our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/what-we-do-and-why/education-young-people

To celebrate Children’s Book Week this week, we’ve asked some of our Project Workers who work with children and young people to recommend some of their favourite reads. For a bunch that read so much, it was a tough choice but we managed to narrow it down…

For younger children:

The-Dinosaur-That-Pooped-a-Planet-844x1024The Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet – Tom Fletcher, Dougie Poynter and Garry Parsons
A younger kids read but one that everybody can enjoy. It’s especially great for reading with boys, as Danny and Dino’s tale of space, poop and planets is laugh-out-loud ridiculous, with great rhymes and alliteration, and who doesn’t like a bit of space-themed silliness?

What The Ladybird Heard – Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks
A perfect choice to read aloud with all of its various animal sounds, with a good dose of silly slapstick that is sure to amuse adults reading along with little ones. Especially popular at one of our recent Half Term Hijinks sessions.

Green Eggs and HamDr.Seuss
A great story to read aloud with little ones and adults able to enjoy the humour within. A brilliant choice to open up the door to other read aloud stories – and Dr. Seuss books – and delve into more!

The Meg & Mog series of books – Helen Nichol and Jan Pienkowski
Timeless classics guaranteed to raise a smile, as well as including some lessons always worth learning.

Two classics that can be enjoyed by a wide age range are The Witches by Roald Dahl and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, which have been read in our bilingual children’s groups in North Wales. In particular, our young readers loved the suggestion that their teachers might be witches, and could relate to the language barriers between Mary and the Mufela. Pullman is a master of description and his creatures can be imagined perfectly.

Enid Blyton is another classic author that is always worth revisiting or exploring for the first time, particularly The Magic Faraway Tree and The Famous Five series.

Short story collections are always good options to engage children who don’t read regularly, and along with our very own read-aloud anthology A Little, Aloud for Children which is chock full of extracts to inspire and fuel the imagination, another option that has gone down well in our groups is Unbelievable by Australian author Paul Jennings. A story that is especially popular is one called ‘One Shot Toothpaste’.

For older children and young people:

tumblr_ldujw4BkYh1qe9etiSkellig – David Almond
A beautiful story dealing with sensitive issues but told with humour and warmth.

Wonder – RJ Palacio
The story of August Pullman, a 12-year old boy with facial deformities, but one that deals with the universal themes of growing up and finding your place in the world.

Horowitz Horror – Anthony Horowitz
Brilliantly gruesome short stories which are great for bookworms and book haters alike. Suitable for teenagers due to some of the more stomach-lurching content, these stories always leave you wanting more.

Don’t forget that you can also find lots more great recommendations to keep kids reading in our Recommended Reads for Children feature right here on The Reader Online.

There’s also many more titles and lists on the City of Readers blog, inspiring children and young people across Liverpool to become readers. Looking for books to read with babies, for boys or even ones to read before a certain age? Then there’s no other place to be: http://www.cityofreaders.org/

Recommended Reads for Children: A Christmas Collection

Just in time for the season, our regular Recommending Reader Marianne is back with a selection of cracking Christmas reads the whole family can enjoy together over the holiday. You might just find something that would be a perfect Christmas present – there is no better time to snuggle up and share a story with those children in your life.

night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore/Holly Hobbie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2013)

You will find many illustrated interpretations of this classic poem by Clement C. Moore, translated in many languages it continues to be recited to children all over the world. I have chosen this new 2013 edition by acclaimed watercolorist Holly Hobbie. Hobbie introduces the reader to an entirely new character to capture the magic and heighten the wonder of this exciting, mysterious time.

stick manStick Man – Julia Donaldson (Alison Green Books; 2009)

Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson yet again produces a winning formula with the character of Stick Man and his instantly loveable family, ‘stick lady love and his stick children three’. Stick Man’s journey takes him away from home and into dangerous places for sticks, where dogs want to play, swans want to build and fire wants to burn but he also happens to meet somebody stuck in a chimney…. I wonder who that could be?  As always with Donaldson there are wonderful rhymes and the illustrations by Axel Scheffler make this a real festive treat.

big snowBig Snow – Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus  and Giroux; 2013)

This cosy and funny book tells the story of an excited and frustrated boy watching hopefully as the wintry weather develops slowly into a ‘big snow’. I loved this book, because I was always the child checking the weather and hoping for an epic snowstorm. Many will relate to the mum in this story, as she asks for help cleaning from her distracted son but ends up having to do more work as a result. There are wonderful details tucked into the illustrations and the images of snow falling, from the first small sprinkles to the steady pelting of no-nonsense flakes captures the progression of a serious, big snowfall perfectly.

let it snowLet it Snow: Three Holiday Romances – John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Penguin; 2013)

From three of today’s bestselling teen authors, the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love and romance. If you are looking for a light and fun Christmas read to curl up with when it’s cold outside then these three short stories are perfect. John Green is a fantastic writer of young adult fiction and if you haven’t come across him I urge you to read An Abundance of Katherine’s or his latest heart-breaking  novel Fault in Our Stars.

peter rabbitThe Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit – Emma Thompson (Warne; 2012)

Beautifully illustrated and written in a style faithful to Beatrix Potter, Oscar winning screenwriter and actress Emma Thompson sets her story just before Christmas. Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny and a new friend, William the Turkey are pretty excited for the upcoming festivities until they realize that William is meant to be Mr. McGregor’s Christmas supper! Just in time, Peter and Benjamin hide William, and the three enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner of pickled radishes and barley cake at the Rabbit family burrow.

jolly christmas postmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin; 2013)

Twenty years ago, long before anyone else thought of tucking actual letters and notes inside a book, Little Brown published The Jolly Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. This wonderful book gave children a chance to read letters sent from one fairy tale or Mother Goose character to another. In this Christmas edition we once again see the postman delivering letters to well loved characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Red Riding Hood. The Jolly Christmas Postman is a simple picture storybook, a timeless gem that just gets it right. Beautifully illustrated with letters and parcels for children to open and touch.

polar expressThe Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen; 2009)

I truly love this story for it reminds me how Christmases are supposed to feel; the magic that Christmas morning brings; the wonderful cooking; those waking moments when we run towards our Christmas stockings just to check what Santa has brought for us. This book contains magic, the North pole, elves, children and of course Santa Claus.  This is a timeless tale anyone could enjoy….as long as they believe!

the lump of coal#The Lump of Coal – Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins; 2008) 

This suggestion is probably more for the adults but I love Lemony Snicket more and more and although the intended age of audience is ambiguous I just had to have this hilarious tale in my top ten. A charming little holiday story about the trials and tribulations of a lump of coal who aspires to make avant-garde art. The Lump of Coal is a simplistic humorous story yet features a final page that is utterly remarkable, a beautiful paragraph that stands on a par with Seuss and Dickens for great Christmas morality. I will share it with you here:

“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.”

room for a little oneRoom for a Little One: A Christmas Tale – Martin Waddell (Little Simon; 2008)

Room for a Little One is an endearing tale by Martin Waddell, taken from the Nativity it tells the story of how all the animals are welcomed into the stable to see the birth of Jesus. A lovely introduction to the nativity for very young readers with beautiful illustrations. I’m sure this book will become a Christmas Eve tradition for many families.

gift of the magiGift of the Magi – O. Henry (minedition; 2013)

I have always loved this story and enjoyed sharing it with my Get into Reading Groups at Christmas time. This new, beautifully illustrated interpretation of the well-loved, poignant short story by O. Henry would be appreciated by older children and would make a wonderful gift. Briefly, the story involves Della and Jim who are very much in love  but have no money to buy gifts for each other. When Della decides to make a great sacrifice that will give her enough money to buy the present Jim deserves, she soon discovers that that her selfless act may have been for naught. A heart-breaking yet wonderful tale.

You can buy any of these books through The Reader Organisation’s Amazon Bookshop link or your local independent bookshop: search through The Bookseller’s Association website to find the one closest to you. Plus, there’s always Santa…

Recommended Reads for Children: Fortunately, the Milk…

Marianne is back with another great Recommended Read for Children, Fortunately, the Milk…, by Neil Gaiman.

FTMIIn light of Neil Gaiman’s inspiring address to the Reading Agency published in the Guardian on October 15th I thought it fitting to review one of his latest books for children. In this lecture Gaiman talks of the ‘obligation to imagine’, and as a writer for children sees this as crucial to what he does. Read any of his books and you will see that he does this very very well.  He speaks of how everything around us has at some point been imagined and indeed, with brilliance in his latest book he exemplifies how a story can be found in every moment, step, nook and cranny of life. If you want to allow your imagination to wander around in Neil Gaiman’s head for a bit I suggest you read ‘Fortunately, the Milk‘.

Our story begins in the kitchen. Two kids, with dry cereal, and a Dad with ‘no tea face’ realise that they forgot to get the milk. Dad comes to the rescue and dashes off to the store to save breakfast! But time ticks slowly by until the kids strongly consider soaking their cereal in orange juice. Dad swoops back in the door with much more than just milk, a hilarious ‘you will never guess what happened to me’ story that will have you laughing out loud.  The story that follows is a highflying, alien abduction, will-the-milk-make-it-home-in-time tale with genius twists and turns through time.  It’s a chaotic, action packed ride met with dinosaurs, aliens and a talking volcano! You will find yourself reading this out loud without meaning to, words like ‘FIZZ’, ‘PLIP’ and “thummthumm” need to be off the page. Gaiman captures the magic of storytelling perfectly on the page and captures the joy and magic of a Dad telling a story to his children beautifully.

I encourage you to read any of Neil Gaiman’s books he truly is a wonderful storyteller that never fails to please. In his lecture he highlights the great importance of reading for pleasure and reading aloud:

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.

Working in the children’s section of a bookstore it is great to be given the opportunity to recommend books to parents and carers but what is even better is to talk to children themselves about what they love to read. I agree with Gaiman that there are no bad authors for children, we must encourage any enthusiasm they have for books, books they enjoy will lead to more books, do not kill the pleasure they have found, this will lead to nothing.

Reading for pleasure is at the heart of The Reader Organisation’s ethos, through shared reading they connect with adults and children everyday. I don’t know if Neil Gaiman is aware of the work that The Reader Organisation does but hope he soon will be.  Here is a group of committed and enthusiastic individuals working together to raise a nation of readers through the pleasures of shared reading, strong with the belief that ‘everything changes when we read.

Fortunately, the Milk, Neil Gaiman, Bloomsbury, (2013)

NB: Neil Gaiman is indeed aware of TRO’s work – he very kindly gave us his poem ‘Instructions’ to use as the opening of our anthology, A Little, Aloud for Children, completely free of charge.