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Children’s Book Week 2023 – Staff Picks

Did you know, in 2023, Children’s Book Week is taking place twice? The annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading saw the first of two dedicated weeks of celebration take place from 1st-7th May and part 2 is this week, 6th-12th November. Twice the fun!

Established over 100 years ago (in 1919), Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative where young people across the country participate by attending events at schools, libraries and book shops or by celebrating at home. They are also given opportunities to engage with authors and book creators both online and in person.

A celebration of the powerful impact books can have on young people, we thought we’d cast our minds back to when we were all but mere whippersnappers and the books that stand out vividly in our memories…

Sara – Funnybones by Allan Ahlberg

When I think back to my childhood, there are a few books that stick out in my memory. There’s the Funnybones series, about two human skeletons and their dog skeleton getting into all sorts of adventures. A great bedtime story, especially at Halloween – with delightful illustrations and easy-to-read text.

I also enjoyed Peace at Last about a daddy bear who just cannot find anywhere peaceful to sleep, which is actually representative of my own life at times these days! As I got older, I began to enjoy the Sweet Valley High stories and the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine (which has recently been remade as a TV series on Disney+ and advertised as “scarier than you remember”!). I guess that’s where my taste for strange and creepy novels began! Or maybe it started way back with Funnybones.

Funnybones book cover
Peace at Last book cover
Goosebumps book cover

Nick – Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations)

As mentioned in a previous blog for National Book Lovers Day, I loved reading Asterix the Gaul as a kid and still have them on my shelf to this day. Try as I might to get my kids interested, they just looked at me with sad, almost disappointed expressions! The illustrations by Albert Uderzo were great and I used to enjoy drawing and trying to copy pictures of Asterix and Obelix (with limited success!). The books were just funny, probably forming my somewhat childish sense of humour. The level of violence was somewhat questionable though!

Asterix the Gaul book cover

Sally – The Magic Porridge Pot (Ladybird Book)

Based on the much-loved, traditional German fairy tale “Sweet Porridge” (German: Der süße Brei), it’ll come as no surprise that The Magic Porridge Pot was inspired by tale number 103 by the folkloric masters the Brothers Grimm.

I must have been around 5 or 6 when this story was first read to me by my mum and for some reason, I was able to imagine the story taking place in the village that I lived in at the time which was Castle Hedingham. I imagined the nearby streets filling up with porridge and everyone wading around trying to eat as much as they could before it got cold! It was also a book I chose to read to my kids when they were much younger. As with all Grimms’ fairy tales, there’s a moral to the story, in this case, “Know how to finish something before you start” and “You can have too much of a good thing so don’t be greedy!”. Important (and timeless) lessons for children for sure.

The Magic Porridge Pot book cover

Kevin – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I did not read much as a child but Of Mice and Men is a book that we did at school and the first one that I really remember enjoying. My son, who is not a big reader either, has also recently read this book at school and liked it!

There is clearly a cautionary tale here of how “The best laid plans (of mice and men) often go awry”, which is possibly what makes it a curriculum favourite (despite it being one of the Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century and frequent target of the dreaded censors!) and such an enduring story, particularly for younger readers.

Of Mice and Men book cover

Click here to learn more about participating in Children’s Book Week this year and to get your hands on some useful resources: https://everychildareader.net/cbw/

We’d love to hear about your favourite childhood books or if you’re taking part in CBW 2023 and what you’re getting up to, so please either drop us a message or leave a comment on LinkedIn or Twitter (X).