1 Editorial: Happy World Book Day


2 The Importance of Play make believe is crucial says Gill Lewis

4 Ten essential books for young readers chosen by Patrice Lawrence


Editorial ________________________________________

6 Windows into Illustration: Frann Preston-Gannon


8 Authorgraph: Catherine Johnson interviewed by Andrea Reece

10 Bringing Stories to Life: director Tish Francis guides us round Oxford’s refurbished Story Museum

12 Everything Ends up in _________________________________________

the Rubbish: Neil Philip on Hans Christian Andersen’s unhappy endings

14 Beyond the Secret _________________________________________

Garden Classic literature and classic mistakes

16 I Wish: Muhammad Khan chooses


16 Good Reads: empathy- inspiring reads chosen by pupils at St Matthews CE Primary School Birmingham

_________________________________________ 17 Friends, Romans, _________________________________________

Countrymen: Tony Bradman adds up what stories about the Romans have done for us

18 Book Clubs in Schools: _________________________________________

Why and How? Dr Rebecca Butler provides the answers

19 Reviewers and reviews List of reviewers Under 5s (Pre-School/Nursery/ Infant) + New Talent 5-8 (Infant/Junior) 8-10 (Junior/Middle) 10-14 (Middle/Secondary) + Ed’s Choicet

_________________________________________ 14+ (Secondary/Adult)

32 Classics in Short No. 140 Topsys and Turvys on Parade

_________________________________________ COVER STORY

This issue’s cover illustration is from Sequin and Stitch written by Laura Dockrill and illustrated by Sara

Ogilvie. Thanks to Barrington Stoke for their help with this March cover.

Books for Keeps

March 2020 No.241 ISSN 0143-909X © Books for Keeps CIC 2016

Managing Editor: Andrea Reece Editorial advisor: Ferelith Hordon Assistant Editor: Eloise Delamere Editorial assistant: Alexia Counsell Design: Louise Millar

Editorial correspondence should be sent to Books for Keeps, 30 Winton Avenue London N11 2AT.

2 Books for Keeps No.241 March 2020

Books for Keeps is available online at A regular BfK Newsletter can also be sent by email. To sign up for the Newsletter, go to and follow the Newsletter link. If any difficulty is experienced, email addresses can also be sent to*


Website: *Email addresses will be used by Books for Keeps only for the purpose of emailing the Newsletter and will not be disclosed to third parties.


Last week was World Book Day, that enormous celebration of children’s books and reading. No- one, even those with little interest in the world of children’s literature, could fail to notice this national event which sparks huge amounts of coverage across the media and inspires children the length and breadth of the country to show off their love for their favourite fictional character by dressing up. For children’s authors, the week of World Book Day has become the busiest of the year by far, diaries packed with school and event bookings. Meanwhile, the range of £1 World Book Day books dominate the bestseller lists. Good news all round.


And yet … behind the PR and celebrations comes more sobering news: new research from the National Literacy Trust, published on World Book Day, shows that fewer children and young people are reading daily and that fewer are enjoying reading than they did in the past. Findings from the NLT’s Annual Literacy Survey reveals that only 25.8% of children said they read daily in their free time. This is the lowest level the National Literacy Trust recorded since it first surveyed children in 2005.

Some of the key findings of the report include: Reading enjoyment

53% of children and young people said they enjoy reading in 2019

Children and young people’s levels of reading enjoyment continue to decrease: children’s reading enjoyment decreased between 2016 and 2017/18 –the first decrease in six years. This decline continued in 2019 and we are now back at a level last evidenced in 2013

Children and young people’s levels of reading enjoyment are at their lowest since 2013: 53% of children say they enjoy reading in 2019 vs 53.3% in 2013

Daily reading frequency

25.8% of children and young people said they read daily in 2019

Children and young people’s daily reading levels are the lowest ever recorded: just 25.8% of children say they read daily in their free time in 2019; this is the lowest level we have recorded since we first surveyed children in 2005

World Book Day for Manchester schools at the National Cycle Centre. Pictured Team GB BMX, authors and Crowcroft Park Primary School. Photo by Mark Waugh

Reading attitudes

Attitudes towards reading have remained stable over the past couple of years

52.3% of children and young people would be happy to get a book as a present

40.7% of children and young people think reading is cool

34% of children and young people cannot find things to read that interest them

The decline in reading frequency and enjoyment is a concern, particularly among certain groups, as highlighted by the NLT report: reading enjoyment has particularly decreased for boys, children aged 9 to 11, and those who don’t receive free school meals. Daily reading levels have fallen for young people aged 16 to 18 and those who don’t receive free school meals.

What to do? Campaigns such as World Book Day, the work of the NLT around the country to boost reading enjoyment, the activity of the OU and UKLA with the Reading for Pleasure programme are more crucial than ever. And we can all help too, as the World Book Day campaign advised, by sharing books, and making every story count. (You could start by having a look at Rebecca Butler’s article on running a book group).

The NLT report: Children and young people’s reading in 2019 can be found on their website. research-reports/

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