54 places to begin with when thinking about children’s and young adult literature

A manifesto, of sorts, for those who are interested in children’s and young adult literature but don’t know where to start. Start here. Somewhere. All of them. One of them. Just start.

  1. Read something you remember from your childhood. Read it now as an adult. Be aware of the differences between that read.
  2. Read The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan and revel at the precision of her language.
  3. Subscribe to this blog. And this blog. Also this blog.
  4. Read Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.
  5. Lurk (or even join in) a Twitter chat. Have a look at #ukyachat and #ukmgchat for starters. If people aren’t talking about what you want to talk about, be the one who does.
  6. Read The Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O’Hara. Fall in love with the wilderness.
  7. Sign up at your library to help with the Summer Reading Challenge.
  8. Go to The Story Museum.
  9. Read reviews on Goodreads. Decide whether you agree with them or not. Work out why.
  10. Ask your young relatives, friends, pupils what they’re reading. And then read those books.
  11. Read Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. Let the words scald you.
  12. Start a blog. Make it private, make it public, find your voice.
  13. Read one of the Miffy books by Dick Bruna. Any of them.
  14. Read this blog. And this blog.
  15. Give somebody a book. The idea of the giving of children’s literature is an important thing.
  16. Read Alfie Gets in First by Shirley Hughes.
  17. Go to Seven Stories.
  18. Read The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac. Practice them.
  19. Write something. Doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to be bad, doesn’t have to be imaginative, but flex your imagination. Start to understand the space of the children’s book. Start to understand your contribution to that space.
  20. Read The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks. Understand how a book can be great and complex and challenging.
  21. Go to a bookshop. Stare at some books. Look at the colours, the descriptions, the arrangements of them. Understand the shape of these books and the contrast between them and others.
  22. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Push your fingers through the holes.
  23. Go to the library. Get some books out. If you don’t know where to begin, ask. Librarians are your friends. They are there to help.
  24. Read Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari.
  25. Experience The Game of Sculpture by Herve Tullet. When you’ve finished, experience it again.
  26. Set up a Twitter account and follow a lot of people in the sector. You don’t have to necessarily engage, but do follow. Educate yourself in what’s going on.
  27. Read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  28. Visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.
  29. Have some cake. And then read something. Read indulgently, selfishly, wholly. Stop the clocks. Lock the door.
  30. Read I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith.
  31. Read Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce.
  32. Send a book on an adventure. Track its progress.
  33. Read The Chalet School in Exile by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.
  34. Visit Daunt Books.
  35. Attend an author event. It’s one thing to read the book yourself, but it’s quite another to hear it being read and talked about by the author.
  36. Read some Eloise.  Any of them. Sink into the exuberance of them.
  37. Read A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian. Fall in love for the first time.
  38. Read Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill. Think about his use of colour and scale and scope.
  39. Attend Alice’s Day in Oxford.
  40. Read Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens.
  41. Read Max’s Wagon by Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson. A short one this, but something quite brilliant.
  42. Go to Whitby and read The Whitby Witches series. Sit in the abbey. Walk the beach. Tread the steps of Ben and Jennet and Aunt Alice.
  43. Read My Name is Mina by David Almond. Sink into its language.
  44. Go to the woods on a bear hunt. I’m quite serious about this one. Think about what you’d need and then pack it and then go. Don’t come back until you’ve found one.
  45. Read Cowgirl by GR Gemin.
  46. Read Dog Ears by Anne Booth.
  47. Talk about books. To everyone, anyone. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be reticent. Be passionate and vital and interested in the power of this sector of literature.
  48. Visit Barter Books.
  49. Read a book out loud to yourself. Somewhere silent, if you can, and let yourself hear the words.
  50. Read Looking at pictures in picture books by Jane Doonan. Apply some of her ideas to the next picture book you read.
  51. Read Unhooking The Moon by Gregory Hughes.
  52. Attend a literary festival. (Oxford Literary Festival‘s children’s programme is particularly wonderful).
  53. Read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  54. Read Pea’s Book of Holidays by Susie Day.

Politics / Politicians in Young Adult Literature

Just a quick news in brief sort of article for today, but last night I was wondering a bit about politics and politicians in young adult literature so I asked for some suggestions of titles on Twitter. Here’s the storify of what I was recommended. I hope it proves of interest ! 🙂

Love in children’s literature : the pain, the glory, the wonder

It’s a big old subject is love. Love changes everything. All you need is love. Love in media simply is. It’s one of the core tenets of our humanity, of our experience, and so we talk about it. We share it. We are inspired by it. We are made by, reshaped by and broken by love.

Continue reading

#readyourwayaroundtheUK – an update, a thank you and a challenge!

Just in case you missed it, I have been working on a project recently. I wondered whether it would be possible to read your way around the UK in children’s / YA books, and you know something? You pretty much can. After a busy, busy week of googling, map reading, and tweeting, the Read Your Way Around the UK spreadsheet is getting very, very full. (Which is AMAZING).

Thank you so much if you’ve given me a title suggestion or confirmed whether book  X is set in Village Y. Thank you also if you’ve tweeted me sympathetically and gone, “Yes, Bangor is in Wales love” when I’ve lost track of what my name is, let alone borders and counties and that. Thank you if you’ve helped me clear up my geography. Basically, thank you for getting involved in this fascinating project and for helping it out.

So here’s the first part of the challenge. I want to know if you’ve read / reviewed any of the books of the list. I reviewed my first this morning but I want to know if anybody else is having a go. Will you let me know if you are? I’ll keep an eye on the #readyourwayaroundtheUK tag on Twitter but if I miss it, let me know!

And here’s the second part of the challenge. We have gaps. Gaps are bad. Can you help with any of the below queries? Is there a county on there that doesn’t exist currently? Have I put Narnia in Wales by mistake? Are you an author who writes books solely set in Rutland?

Give me a bell or comment here or on Twitter. I would so love to be able to get a book for every county in the UK…!

Thank you! 🙂

England: Books still needed for Rutland and Hertfordshire

Scotland: Books still needed for Aberdeen, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Moray, Perth and KinrossSouth Lanarkshire and West Lothian

Wales: Books still needed for AngleseyBreconCaernarfonshireDenbighshire, DyfedFlintshireMid Glamorgan, Montgomeryshire, Powys, Radnorshire, West Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and Wrexham

Wales: Can anybody confirm the settings of the following books / series? Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs, Whistler’s Van – Idwal Jones, The Magician Trilogy – Jenny Nimmo, The Seeing Stone – Kevin Crossley Holland

Northern Ireland: Books still needed for Amagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry