Category Archives: News

It’s tomorrow! Empathy Day 2021

There’s a buzz in the air and it’s getting louder : the countdown for Empathy Day has been running and it’s nearly here! After a tough year, a celebration focusing on encouraging empathy and therefore, kindness, tolerance and understanding, is just what’s needed.

Organisers EmpathyLab have pulled out all the stops, with the aim of this year’s activities being to encourage children across the UK to walk in someone else’s shoes. There’s an amazing line-up of events planned including includes free online events with Joseph Coehlo, A.M.Dassu, Michelle Robinson, Jay Hulme, Patrice Lawrence, Nathan Byron, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Bali Rai, Holly Bourne, Rob Biddulph, Cressida Cowell, Michael Rosen, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson. 

Launched by Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, the Empathy Day LIVE! programme takes audiences through three key steps: READ, CONNECT and ACT. It includes an Empathy Day draw along with Rob Biddulph; an “authors’ secrets” creative writing session with Malorie Blackman, Bali Rai and Holly Bourne; an Empathy Mirror body language game with A. M. Dassu and Adisa; making empathy resolutions with Nathan Bryon and Rashmi Sirdeshpande; and a listening lunch with Jacqueline Wilson. Michelle Robinson, Jay Hulme and Patrice Lawrence will run an Empathy Exhibition learning more about each other by sharing precious objects.


For adults, there’s a cutting-edge evening conversation with authors Catherine Johnson, Michael Rosen and David Baddiel. They will talk with Professor Dr Robin Banerjee, an expert in developmental psychology, about the role of empathy in society and using books to nurture young people’s empathy skills. Other free resources available to children and families in the run-up to the event include a newly-commissioned Empathy short story series, Empathy Illustrations and this year’s family activity pack. The 2021 Empathy Reads collection also features 50 specially chosen books for 4-16 years olds that help young people develop their empathy skills- download the lists here.


All Empathy Day LIVE! events can be watched live on EmpathyLab website and will be available to view after the event too. All in all, it’s not to be missed – for empathy, for amazing enrichment and for a celebration of stories.

World Book Day….just around the corner!

A week today, it’s World Book Day (4th March); that time of year when we all go a bit more book-crazy!

I love World Book Day – the fact there is a whole day marked out for celebrating just how wonderful books are is brilliant. And I love the costumes (yes really I do – it helps being married to Mr Dilly who has a big costume cupboard!) Yes, books should be celebrated every day, but I think it’s great that the whole world comes together to celebrate books every Spring. A UNESCO initiative marked in over 100 countries around the world, World Book Day is enjoyed by hundreds of children – and dare I say it, adults too -up and down the country.

Working as a school librarian, World Book Day was always a great day to be in the library. Children would love to see what was happening – and generally just be excited to be in there, in costume, trying to find the book their character was from (if they hadn’t brought it in from home)! I’ve run Jackanory (always a huge favourite – teachers and other guests reading aloud), book breakfasts (food and books…),Mad-Hatter tea parties (more food and books …) a multitude of competitions (Show us your Shelfie, Guess Who’s reading, Get Caught Reading) book art sessions (crafting using old books), reading treasure hunts (use the clue to find the book). And then there’s the special World Book Day assemblies – I once delivered an assembly in my pyjamas (we chose to celebrate Bedtime Stories that year), as a Ringmaster (circus themed another year) and even using a Dr Who pop-up wardrobe through which teachers ‘appeared’ as their favourite book characters. Fond memories! Despite schools being closed for most, and in-person events not possible, there’s still plenty of ways to celebrate. This year more than ever, bringing the magic of books to life wherever you are, is a great idea and there are some brilliant online events that will help.

National charity, World Book Day, seeks to change lives through encouraging a love of books and shared reading. They’ve a planned a whole host of events and participation campaigns to mark the occasion, supported by high-profile partners, authors, illustrators and poets. On the World Book Day website you can access Early Years, Primary and Secondary toolkits with activities and discussion guides for teachers, parents and carers with useful downloads like ‘5 ways to encourage children to read’ and ‘Top Tips for Sharing Stories’. Also available now, there’s an Authors and Illustrators Academy with tutorial videos from this year’s World Book Day authors including Jonny Duddle, Joseph Coelho and Lydia Monks to encourage creativity. From the 1st March, a brilliant social media participation campaign #ShowYourShares invites everyone to post photos of themselves sharing a story (and maybe win a prize!).

From 3rd-5th March there’s a programme of FREE ‘Share a Story’ events featuring a range of children’s favourite authors – Katherine Rundell, Humza Arshad, Tom Fletcher, Sita Brahmachari to name a few. Each event runs between 25-30 minutes on the World Book Day YouTube channel or via their website and focuses on ‘Books that make us LOL’ (6yrs+) ‘Words and pictures -bringing reading to life’ (4yrs+) and ‘How reading helps us understand the real world’ (9yrs+).

All in all, World Book Day have made something for everyone and it’s all free. Not only that, the website is active all year round so you can keep celebrating, every day!

Find out more at www.worldbookday.com.

Resources to encourage creativity at home – inspired by books!

We know it’s good to encourage our children to ‘be creative’, alongside their homelearning. In particular time to read is so important, offering an ‘escape’ for young minds and inspiring imaginations. But with schoolwork to do, our own work to complete and the daily juggle on going, it’s a bit of a challenge, to say the least!

Help is at hand with the multiple online resources available to provide inspiration – but time to navigate these is also short! Today, I’ve gathered some on the blog that have caught my eye, and that I think will give your young readers the opportunity to get creative and encourage their reading for pleasure.

Picture Books

Award-winning Umbrella by Elena Arevalo Melville tells the story of Clara who finds a magical umbrella in the park which leads her on a wonderful journey of discovery! Read my review here. Ideal for storytime, author Elena has recorded the story (approx 10mins). There are delightful activities including inviting children to imagine what they would wish for if they found a magical umbrella! For more formal teaching, there is a scheme of work available exploring the themes and characters in the story. Published by Scallywag Press.

Larger-than-life story What’s in the Truck? by Philip Aardagh and Jason Chapman tells the tale of a dog prince and his ever changing vehicles! You can read an extract of the story and there are fun activities to entertain young readers. There’s also an online event hosted by indie bookshop, The Book Nook in Hove with Philip and Jason participating in a storytime and drawalong which children will love! Published by Faber.

Big Cat by Emma Lazell  is a hilarious story about Isobel and her Grandma and their discovery of a very Big Cat in the garden. Read my review here. Fans of cats will absolutely love this story; you can read an extract here, listen to Emma read the story aloud and there’s an activity pack to encourage budding young illustrators. Published by Pavilion Books

Sky Private Eye by Jane Clarke & Loretta Schauer is a delightful series featuring Sky, who can be found searching for clues and solving mysteries involving fairytale characters we know and love ( think Red Riding Hood, the Gingerbread Man) – and also has a fondness for baking! Read my review here. There are some lovely activities available including making cakes for the young bakers in your lives (but don’t let the Big Bad Wolf find out…!) Published by Five Quills.

Illustrated fiction

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie is a hugely popular series for 7-9 year olds. The fifth and final book in the series published this month and the author has created a range of fantastic resources to bring the stories to life through activities, book talk and arts and crafts ideas. Andy has also created a brilliant mini dragon story resource with a video and ideas for illustration. Published by Piccadilly Press

Jasper and Scruff by Nicola Colton creates a fabulous new friendship between a cat and a dog! Warm and funny, young readers will love reading about Jasper and Scruff’s adventures. Nicola has created some brilliant illustration activities, so children can have a go at recreating this wonderful duo themselves. Book 3 in the series publishes next month, in the meantime you can watch a drawalong with Nicola here. Published by Little Tiger.

Poetry

The incomparable A F Harrold selected the poems in Midnight Feasts, illustrated by Katy Riddell. Shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2020 award, there is a full teaching sequence available from CLPE. Rather brilliantly you can also watch A F Harrold perform poems from the book via his website. A great way to keep children entertained and introduce them to the wonderful world of poetry. Published by Bloomsbury

Middle Grade

Wilde by Eloise Williams was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020. A contemporary fantasy story, you can read my full review here. Author Eloise, the inaugural Welsh Children’s Laureate , has put together a whole host of creative writing activities and there is a resource pack available here. The pack includes story extracts, Shakespeare and illustration activities – ideal for building on the imagination brought to life in the story! Published by Firefly Press.

After the War by Tom Palmer is another triumph in accessible, historical fiction for author Tom, who has worked tirelessly to support Holocaust Memorial Day. This story is utterly moving – read my full review here – focusing on the lives of three Jewish boys rescued from a concentration camp. Tom has produced multiple teaching resources, video content and creative writing support and whilst Holocaust Memorial Day itself may have passed, the messages around After the War are relevant every day. Visit his website to find out more. Published by Barrington Stoke.

I absolutely adored Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan and revisiting Roar in the sequel, Return to Roar. Author Jenny was previously a teacher and has created some inspiring, imaginative resources to encourage creativity including videos to make your own fantasy-land map, characters and fantasy poo!! There’s also a treasure hunt and ideas for bringing Roar to life at home and in the classroom. Great all round! Published by Egmont.

Faber Booktime is a fantastic resource featuring readings and activities from a huge variety of children’s authors – Chris Mould, Emma Carroll, Swapna Haddow & Sheena Dempsey and many more. Great for storytime and encouraging creativity in young storytellers. Find out more

Puffin Schools features multiple resource packs, one-off activities and video draw-alongs, storytime and the Puffin Storymakers Show. Search for an author or Puffin title to find an activity for your young readers – think Wimpy Kid, Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and other classroom favourites. Great for supporting literacy but also brilliant for encouraging reading for pleasure! Find out more.

These are just a few of the many and varied book-related resources that creative folk and their publishers have put together to help home-learning. Following #readingrocks, #edutwitter, #kidlit and of course #homelearning, will shine a light on others. And make sure you follow your children’s favourite authors, illustrators, poets and publishers on social media to keep a track of the live events and new content being published.

Children’s publishers read aloud permissions

As we navigate another period of lockdown, it can be difficult to know what the ‘rules’ are regards making recordings of reading aloud/story time for children. Many children’s publishers have confirmed current guidelines for educators – others are yet to update them for 2021 (as at time of writing). I’ve gathered as many as possible below for information. Note that each publisher has slightly different guidelines and variations in their policy but nearly all state:

  • specific criteria must be met when creating your recording in order for the permission to be valid
  • permissions are for recordings made for educational use (not for profit making events)
  • deadlines apply as to when recordings must be removed
  • recordings can only be shared via closed educational platforms or if necessary, on YouTube as ‘unlisted’ (private) links

In many cases you will need to notify the publisher of your intention and send them your recording. Please do read the FULL guidelines from the publisher you need permission from.

Publisher permissions

Bonnier Books – recordings can be shared on closed educational platforms only – not valid as permission for any project which seeks to financially gain from a reading. Valid until 31 March 2021. Full guidelines

Bloomsbury – not yet updated for 2021

Chicken House – whilst schools are continuing to teach remotely, online readings can take place through a password protected area of a school’s website or through platforms such as Google Classrooms or similar.  Online readings should not be made publicly available online and must only be accessible by the students of the school.  The readings must be removed from the platform as from 1st April 2021. Full guidelines

Collins, HarperCollins, Egmont – permission to read titles online until and including, April 1st 2021. These virtual readings may be streamed live via digital platforms, or if recorded, posted in closed educational platforms. If a closed platform is unavailable, recorded videos of readings may be uploaded to YouTube as long as they are marked “Unlisted”. Full guidelines

Faber – full permission for anyone to record themselves reading from Faber books online has been extended until 31st March 2021. Any recordings must be taken offline by this date.  Full guidelines

Firefly Press – permission granted for educators to read aloud online and on video until February 2021 via closed platforms or if unavailable, via unlisted YouTube video. Full guidelines

Flying Eye / Nobrow books – permitting teachers to create and share story time and read-aloud videos and live events for families stuck at home on closed educational platforms or privately online, until 31st March 2021. Full guidelines

Hachette – School story time or classroom read aloud videos may only be created and posted to closed educational platforms, until the end of March 2021, after which they must be removed. Full guidelines

Little Tiger – permission for educators to share read aloud videos, and display the book on closed educational platforms or YouTube provided the link is private (unlisted). These videos may be hosted on the educational platform and/or YouTube (as “Unlisted”) until 31st March 2021. Full guidelines

Macmillan Children’s Books – permission for teachers to live stream or post videos reading any children’s books published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Readings are allowed to remain online for 4 months after posting and they reserve the right to request that you take down any reading that does not reflect well on the publishing company or the book. Full guidelines

Penguin Random House – Until 30th June 2021, UK-based teachers and librarians will be able to share story time, read-aloud videos and live events stories online on closed educational platforms or as ‘private’ Youtube videos. Full guidelines

Quarto Kids – educators are welcome to read any Quarto Group title to children via virtual means. However, please do not archive or save the recordings for continuous use. If being used as part of an educational curriculum, recordings must be removed or disabled after 30 day, and only shared on closed/private platforms. Full guidelines

Scholastic – not yet updated for 2021

Simon and Schuster – Until 31st March 2021, permission to livestream and post readings of Simon & Schuster books online for your pupils, within the confines of educational platform or private YouTube listing.

Usborne – permission for educators to create and share readings of Usborne books, and display the illustrations as part of the readings, sharing on a closed group or educational platform including by sharing an unlisted YouTube link. This permission is effective from 24 March 2020 and has now been extended to 31st July 2021 after which all recordings should be deleted. Full guidelines

Walker Books – educators providing distance learning to students in a virtual classroom setting can create story time or classroom read-aloud videos and post to closed educational platforms or as ‘private’ YouTube links until Easter 2021, after which they should be removed from the educational platform and/or from YouTube. Full guidelines

This list is not exhaustive and will be updated as more information and confirmation of guidelines from publishers becomes available. Information is accurate at time of publication, but subject to change as the pandemic situation changes. As mentioned above, please read the FULL guidelines to ensure any recording made meets the required criteria for the permission to be valid. If you are uncertain then it is best to contact the publisher in question directly.

WINNER ANNOUNCED : Klaus Flugge Prize 2020

The Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 for most exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration has been awarded to Eva Eland for When Sadness Comes to Call.

When Sadness Comes to Call (Andersen Press) tells the story of a young child who opens the door to an unexpected visitor, Sadness, personified as a semi-transparent amorphous shape. As the two spend time together, the child comes to know and understand Sadness, and then one day wakes up to find the visitor has left. Described by the judges as “a masterpiece of minimalism”, it is a sensitive and profound exploration of a complex emotion in a story that will speak to every child, no matter how young.

The book is beautiful in its simplicity with a message that will resonate with all who read it. Whether you have experienced sadness or not, this story will enable understanding about an emotion which can be difficult to deal with, especially for young children. Each spread evokes empathy through minimal use of narrative, colour and line drawing.

Eva Eland grew up in Delft, Netherlands. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the School of Visual Arts in New York as well as at the Cambridge School of Art, where she received a distinction in children’s book illustration. She started working on the book while on the prestigious Cambridge MA course and originally planned to feature other ‘difficult emotions’ such as anger and fear. However, she says: “Sadness was the one that most resonated with me, as it’s a feeling that has frequently visited me since childhood, and one that has become very familiar, almost like an old friend.”

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said “It is very much a book for today when so many children will be experiencing sadness, struggling to understand why and how to express themselves. Yet it also has the makings of a classic, a perfect meeting of intention and delivery, and an example of how much picture books can do.”

On receiving the prize, Eva Eland said: “When Sadness Comes to Call started as a
personal exploration of difficult emotions in images and text during my studies at the MA Children’s Book Illustration in Cambridge and when I took my first version of this book to the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, displayed on the stand of the Cambridge School of Art, I thought I had made something very peculiar and niche and had very little expectations of getting any serious interest. So when Andersen Press approached me and wanted to publish the book, I could hardly believe it.
To be shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize was such a delightful surprise and a huge honour, and now I’ve learned I won the award as well! It’s very encouraging to receive recognition like this.”

The judges also chose to award Highly Commended to Sabina Radeva for her book, On the Origin of Species, an illustrated retelling of Darwin’s famous book published by Puffin. Mini Grey, also on the judging panel, said: “It’s a work of ingenious inspiration that is able to take a complicated idea and make it visually simple, and that’s what On the Origin of Species does. Elegant illustrations help us venture deeper into the concepts and work on many levels.”

Now in its fifth year, the Klaus Flugge Prize was founded to honour publisher Klaus
Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books. Flugge set up Andersen
Press in 1976 and has discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished
illustrators including David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Ruth Brown
and Susan Varley. Alongside Julia Eccleshare, who is director of the Children’s Programme at the Hay Festival, this years judges are last year’s recipient Jessica Love, illustrator Mini Grey, Meera Ghanshamdas, bookseller at Moon Lane Ink; children’s book consultant Jake Hope; and Pam Smy of Anglia Ruskin University.

Congratulations to the winner and all those shortlisted for the Prize! To find out more visit www.klausfluggeprize.co.uk.