Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Online Events with Authors and Illustrators this Week

Pile of books and a writing book and pencil

Here's a list of all the cool author and illustrator events taking place online. A huge thanks to everyone for continuing to run these whilst live events are on hold and families are stuck at home. *Don't forget to save this page*, we'll be updating it every week.


Monday 30th November

4.30pm - Waterstones is running an event with Katherine Rundell and special guests, including Alex Wheatle, Ben Bailey Smith, Catherine Johnson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Polly Ho-Yen, Sharna Jackson and Onjali Q. Rauf, to celebrate The Book of Hopes, a collection of over 100 pieces of writing designed to comfort, inspire and entertain children during this unique period. Tickets cost from £5.

Tuesday 1st December

4.30pm - Rob Biddulph will be talking about his new book, Draw with Rob at Christmas, as well as running a live draw-along session! There will also be an opportunity to ask Rob your own questions too. This event will take place on Zoom and is run by Waterstones. Tickets cost from £5.

Wednesday 2nd December

8.30pm - New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds and illustrator Danica Novgorodoff will be in conversation with Alex Wheatle, talking about their graphic novel adaptation of Jason's award-winning book, Long Way Down. Tickets cost from £5.

Friday 4th December

5.30pm - Sinead Burke will be in conversation with Irish actor Colin Farrell, talking about her new book: Break the Mould: How to Take Your Place in the World. A family ticket costs from £10.

Saturday 5th December

10am - Join in with the #DrawWithRob Saturday art club on Rob Biddulph's Youtube page

Online Events with Authors and Illustrators this Week

And more bookish ideas to try at home

We have over 1,000 books with videos, lesson plans and activity sheets! - check out our favourites here or search for your favourite book and see what's available on the book page.

Involve the grandparents - call/skype grandparents and ask them to provide the first line of a story. The kids then sit down and write for 30 minutes then phone them back to read out their story.

Get the kids to write a diary - these are extraordinary times and this will help not only to record these crazy days but writing things down can also help with anxiety.

Maps & Atlases -  I printed off a world map and asked the kids to think of/research 10 books set in different countries and add them to the map. If you have an atlas at home you can also set them challenges to find where places are e.g. "Find the Galapagos Islands"..."in which country is St Petersburg in"..."write down 10 facts about Turkey" etc etc

Write a book review - I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage kids to write a book review! You can download our '10 tips on how to write a book review' which also includes a quick book review template to print off at home. It doesn't matter if they enjoy reading classics or David Walliams books, writing a review helps them to think about the book, hone their comprehension skills and improve their vocabulary.

Audiobooks - we have a list here of some of our favourite audiobooks but Borrowbox, which are ebooks and audiobooks loaned out by your local library should be your new best friend. Audible have also put a small selection for free and there are apps like Cloudaloud which have some free titles too. 

Podcasts - Soundcloud (where you can listen to extracts, author readings, kids interviewing authors and more)

Videos - We're adding videos to our book pages (see this author video for The Train to Impossible Places and a gorgeous video review of Captain Whiskers from one of our Video Panel Reviewers) 

Publisher Youtube Channels: See Walker BooksUsborneDorling Kindersley, Nosy Crow, HarperCollins Children's, Puffin Books, Egmont Publishing, Macmillan Children's Books, Hachette Children's Books, Ladybird Books (including Peppa Pig), Little Tiger Press, Lit Film Fest are releasing a daily video or writing tips.

Author Youtube Videos: Michael Rosen, Andy Stanton reads Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire, Abi Elphinstone, Jeff Norton, Philip Ardagh

Illustrator Youtube Videos: Steven Lenton, Nick Sharratt, Tom McLaughlin

Toppsta Youtube channel: We've recently launched our Toppsta Youtube channel and we'll be sharing video reviews from children and 'Look Inside' videos too.

Organisations with free resources to use at home: 

But also check out BBC TeachAuthorfy (login required), World Book Day, CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education), British Library, Scholastic Resource Bank, The School Run, Booktrust, Literacy Shed, KeyStage2Literacy, Literacy Trust, Lovemybooks and Caryl Hart is doing an amazing job collecting together all the picture book resources over on her website.

Creative Writing/Drawing: Pobble (a picture a day to inspire drawing and writing. Ask your kids to find their favourite book and ask them to either draw the existing cover or a new version. Author Sinead O'Hart is running creative challenges on her website for kids to enter and win books.

Apps: Reading Realm

Twitter: if you're on Twitter we are running a live Twitter chat every weekday at 10am where you can find out more about new books, authors and illustrators. You can also follow the hashtags #FreeBookResources #UnitedByBooks #lockdownkidlit

Facebook: Author Events Online

Instagram: Lydia Monks, Sandra Dieckmann

Run a sponsored read - and get books into the hands of children who need them most. Take a look at Readathon and the brilliant work they do

Check if your favourite author has their own website - so many have brilliant resources you can download for free from their website: see Joshua Siegal, Joseph Coelho, Tom Palmer, Peter Bunzl, Robin Stevens, Andy Shepherd, Will Mabbitt, Kieran Larwood & more

Great illustrator websites with free resources: Nick Sharratt, Sarah McIntyre

Ditto for great publishers who have tons of resources over on their websites. Check out the advice and free resources for dyslexic readers on the Barrington Stoke website,  Walker Picture Book Party, Nosy Crow Activities, Usborne Play & Learn (coming soon), Chicken House, Piccadilly Press, Lonely Planet Kids, Child's Play, Lion Hudson and more

ebooks - Register for Borrowbox so you can borrow ebooks from your local library and Project Gutenberg has has more than 60,000 ebooks available for free

Bedtime Stories - Check out Cbeebies Bedtime Stories

Online Events with Authors and Illustrators this Week

29th November 2020

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