To celebrate Trustee Week, our newest trustee and former teacher, Rachel Bolton, tells us about her passion for children’s books and reviews some of the exciting books recently published.

I’m a huge fan of children’s literature (as well as adult reading!) and have always wanted to work for a reading charity, so when I saw an advert for a trustee post at Read for Good – a charity that aims to get all children reading for pleasure – I applied. To my delight I was invited to join the board and since then have much enjoyed becoming a part of the team and getting involved in as many different aspects of this amazing charity as I can. So, aside from taking part in board meetings where I help to make the tricky decisions required to steer the charity through the uncharted waters of a pandemic, I also love to help out in the warehouse (a dream place to be for a book lover) sorting and parcelling up books to send out to schools and hospitals; I’m able to use my experience in education to assist in forthcoming major school projects and best of all, I have also taken on the role of Read for Good’s resident book reviewer! – A licence to read!! Watch this space for a dedicated book review page coming soon to the website!

Here are some of my recent favorites: 

Hospital Dog – Julia Donaldson

Dot is no ordinary dog – NO SHE IS NOT! For Dot is a hospital dog day who, in this delightful new Julia Donaldson story, is followed as she visits a variety of children in hospital with her owner Rose. The familiar rhyming language coupled with lively, colourful illustrations, create a reassuring tale for all children, but especially for those who may have to experience a hospital visit. This is a story full of empathy and gentle humour well-timed for the present.

Where Snow Angels Go – Maggie O Farrell 

This is a story to read with someone on a comfy sofa, taking time to marvel at the gorgeous illustrations that cover every page. The plot is simple; late one night Sylvie discovers a snow angel in her bedroom and is determined not only to meet him again but to ensure everyone she knows finds their own snow angel too.

This beautiful book combines the atmosphere of a fairy tale with the magic of a Christmas story which readers will want to reread again every winter.

Wonderscape – Jennifer Bell (9 yrs plus)

“Wonderscape” is the ideal story to hook in children who enjoy playing computer games. Set largely in a virtual-reality adventure game, the story follows three 21st Century classmates who find themselves trapped in the year 2473. Arthur, Cecily and Ren need to complete a series of challenges in order to return home, meeting various “heroes” from history along the way. With language that could, at times, stretch the reader, as well as thumb-nail sketches of the likes of Isaac Newton and Wangari Maathi (Kenyan environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel prize) this fast-paced story also examines themes of friendship and resilience. I loved it!

The Boy at the Back of the Class -Onjali Q Rauf

Told from the point of view of a curious 9 year old intrigued by the silent new boy at the back of the class, this story tackles the pertinent subject of child refugees to the UK. As the unnamed narrator and her close friends try to discover more about Ahmet, the reader is introduced to the difficult concepts of family separation, drownings and UK government rules and regulations. The success of the book however, is that whilst it doesn’t shy away from sensitive subjects, they are explained with a light, sensitive and at times humorous touch, which make for compelling reading. The illustrations and changes in font add another dimension to this heat-warming story. It’s a good one to read aloud to the class and will promote much discussion.

The Wolf Wilder – Katherine Rundell

Part fairytale, part adventure, this lovely story is set in Russia and tells of Feodora’s adventure through the winter landscape to rescue her imprisoned mother. Accompanying her are three wolves – not quite pets – and a collection of other children. As she faces danger, Feo begins to understand the importance of teamwork and friendship. Loss and sadness feature too, but Rundell doesn’t shy away from tackling them head on in this beautiful, compelling read.

Rachel Bolton,