Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Bookish ideas if you're self isolating with the kids

25th March 2020

Pile of books and a writing book and pencil I started this as a blog but I'm seeing so many great ideas floating around I'm taking a change of approach and just listing the many ideas and resources available online.

FRIDAY 27th March

9.30am - Pie Corbett is running a daily podcast with fun, educational, activities

10am - ToppstaBookClub on Twitter (@toppsta #ToppstaBookClub) with the incredible Laura Ellen Anderson talking about her new picture book, I Don't Want to be Quiet

AND Tony Ross will be reading his book, I Don't Want to Wash My Hands, on the Seven Stories Facebook Page

AND - Join Ed Vere on a How to Draw video on the Author Events Online Facebook page

11am - Join Jonathan Emmet for a story and Q&A session on the Picture Book Author Events Online Facebook Group

AND David Walliams is reading a story from The World's Worst Children, on Soundcloud (check his website for the link)

AND - Steve Anthony will be running a Mr Panda session on Twitter (@MrSteveAntony

12 midday - Try the Authorfy daily 10 Minute Challenge on their website

AND - Sarah Crossan is doing poetry workshops and bookish chats (for ages 11+) on her Instagram channel (@Sarahcrossanwriter)

1pm - Sally Doran will be reading from Boom! Bang! Royal Meringue! on the Picture Book Author Events Online Facebook Group

2pm - Anna James will be bookwandering with Robin Stevens (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries) on Youtube 

AND - Dr Joanna Nadin (Penny Dreadful series) will be talking bookish things on Youtube (Joanna Nadin)

2.30pm - Piers Torday will be reading The Last Wild on Instagram Live (@piers_torday)

3pm - James Mayhew Storytime over on Youtube

3.30pm - Justin Davies will be reading from Help! I Smell a Monster on his Insta channel (@flyingscribbler)

4pm - RJ Palacio will be reading Wonder LIVE on Twitter (@rjpalacio)

AND - Matt Brown will reading his book on Facebook (@MattBrownWriter) and then chatting about writing etc.

5pm - Picture book author/illustrator Chris Haughton is doing a reading on his Facebook page (@abitlost)

AND - Mo Willems invites you to his daily doodle over on the Kennedy Centre Website

6pm - Oliver Jeffers is reading from his books over on Instagram

AND - Rachel Bright will be reading her books on Instagram

And more bookish ideas to try at home

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: these last few days we have added more than 100 links to our book pages to quality resources linked to specific books. We have also given access to publishers to add links directly to our website, so huge thanks to those who have! So just search for your favourite book in the search box above and check to see if the page has links to lesson plans or downloadable activities.


Hairy MacLary (Activity Sheets and Teacher's Notes)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Activity Sheets)

Billy and the Mini Monsters (Activity Sheets)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factor (Lesson Plan)

Noughts & Crosses (Teacher's Notes)

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 Walker Picture Book Party, Nosy Crow Activities, Usborne Play & Learn (coming soon), Chicken House, Piccadilly Press, Lonely Planet Kids, Child's Play

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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