Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Bookish ideas if you're self isolating with the kids

1st June 2020

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 we're all in lockdown. *Don't forget to save this page*, we'll be updating it every weekday.

And if you're looking to encourage your children to read more, why not download our FREE reading pack, which includes a 15 Minute Reading Challenge, a fun reading Bingo Game with REAL PRIZES and more!


9am - Authorfy 10 Minute Challenge with Michelle Harrison on the Authorfy website

9.30am - Julia Green will be on live radio show Radioblogging

10am - Follow a new Rob Biddulph #DrawWithRob video on Twitter

10.30am - Litfilm Fest daily writing videos on Youtube

11am - Emily Gravett will be reading one of her books, on Insta

+ David Walliams is reading chapters from his book Bad Dad, on his website

11.30am - Dan Freedman will be live with CBBC Match of the Day Kickabout presenter Ben Shires on the National Literacy Trust Facebook page

1pm - Justin Somper will be launching a new creative challenge around creating your own Vampirates Pirate School on Instagram

2pm - Katherine Rundell will be talking about The Good Thieves on the At Home With Indies Facebook page

+ Faber Booktime with David Long and Kerry Hundman on Youtube

3pm - Nosy Crow are releasing a free picture book, which you can read along to on their website

3.30pm - Puffin Storytime with Ed Clarke reading an extract from The Secret Dragon, on Youtube

4pm - Matt Brown will be reading his book, Killer Vending Machines Wrecked My Lunch, on Facebook

5pm - Sit back and listen to a chapter of the Nosy Crow book at bedtime, Baby Aliens Got My Teacher, by Pamela Butchart, on the Nosy Crow website

6pm - Listen to Episode 8 of James and the Giant Peach read by Taika Waititi, Mindy Kaling, Ben Schwarts and Gordon Ramsay on Youtube and if you can, donate to Partners in Health, all donations will be matched by The Roald Dahl Story Company.

8pm - Join in with the #OURfPBookBlether as Jon Biddle, Helen Jones and others discuss fiction for ages 9-11 on Twitter

Bookish ideas if you're self isolating with the kids

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 my kids to write a book review! They downloaded our '10 tips on how to write a book review' (there's also a quick book review template) and then, just because I like to keep them on their toes (!) I didn't want them to write a review of a book they already knew, so I asked them both to chose a short story to read and review. 

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

Bookish ideas if you're self isolating with the kids

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