News – Booklife Bulletin

We keep an eye out for anything which might be of interest to teachers and librarians – from great new websites to aid your teaching to the latest news from the world of children's books.


Brain awareness week


13 March

Are Childhood Memories Changed by Childhood Stories?

“It is interesting how most people think that childhood is so different from one generation to another and how universally it is thought that children are always getting worse!” Julia Eccleshare speaking at a recent discussion of childhood during the past 50 years. She continues,

“The huge success of Jacqueline Wilson's The Story of Tracy Beaker and her very many other bestselling titles frequently showed contemporary children living in challenging circumstances - bed-and breakfast accommodation, with step-families, in dysfunctional families with ineffective parents. These stories gave more children the chance to find a life like their own in a story. They have often been attacked for being too miserable in their portrayal of childhood but the reality is that they probably reflected a far broader range of experiences more truthfully.

When set against the rosy glow of Ransome and Blyton, will historians and sociologists using children's stories as source material see childhood at the turn of the 20th century as grim? Quite possibly, as children's books certainly reflect the society they come from. However, I would hope that they will be also be viewed as the fictional representations they have been created to be.”

If you are interested in acquiring some great resources for your class room that will offer an opportunity for your pupils to learn about a range of PSHE issues, why not take a look at our selections for KS2 at


Brain awareness week


13 March

Women’s Month

Women's History Month raises awareness and empowers women by discovering, documenting and celebrating women's lives and achievements. For too long women's history and achievements have been forgotten, overlooked, erased and devalued. Our vision is of a diverse society where everyone's contributions are celebrated and recognised equally. Women’s History Month will be an annual event running throughout the month of March in order to raise knowledge and awareness of women’s history, celebrate and promote women’s achievements and provide women with role models and inspiration. We currently offer some brilliant selections by woman authors, so help your class to celebrate female achievements with one of our great packs.


Brain awareness week


13 March

World Book Day

World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

This is the 16th year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 7th March children of all ages came together to appreciate reading. Very loudly and very happily. The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. If you want to get your classroom involved, why not take a look around our website for great fiction selections ranging from Reluctant to Confident Readers and a broad range of nonfiction topics great for expanding the young mind.


Brain awareness week


12 March

Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week, promoted by the DANA Foundation, is a global event to increase public understanding of the research performed by scientists worldwide and how progress in brain research benefits health care. Every March, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. The official week for the next BAW is March 11-17, 2013, but any week is a good time to get your class thinking and learning about the human body. Teach about the brain and body using our comprehensive selections including 'Healthy Living', 'The Body' and 'Healthy Eating' for KS2 and 'Ourselves' for KS1. More information can be found on our website

The Book Bounces Back


12 March

The Things We Have In Common

“The main idea of Islam Awareness Week has always been to promote social cohesion rather than dwell on differences, it’s not about preaching. We believe it has already made a significant and historic contribution to community relations since 1994, but there is a lot that’s still to be done and some frank conversations are needed.” The 20th anniversary theme is THE THINGS WE HAVE IN COMMON. It will share its message through lived experiences – objects, moments and memories of real people. Videos and photo stories will be released that tell these stories, and can be used by schools. To accompany these stories, our Religion and Festivals packs for KS1 and KS2 offer an opportunity to expand upon the topic of religion in the class room.



The Book Bounces Back


21 February

Parents angry at new childcare plans

The Pre-School Learning Alliance has received ‘a huge and angry response’ from parents to Government plans to allow nursery staff and childminders to look after more children, with more than 11,000 parents signing a petition against changes to childcare ratios in England.

The government says ratios can be raised only if nurseries hire ‘better-paid, better-qualified professionals’.

But Neil Leitch, of the Alliance, says ministers should listen to parents, and says:


They [parents] are not interested in childcare on the cheap and want their children to be in a safe and caring environment where staff are able to give children individual attention. They recognise this will be lost should the ratios change.’

For Further Information, click here


The Book Bounces Back


21 February

Boys held back by belief that girls are brainier

A study of British pupils suggests that, from a young age, children think girls are academically superior and better behaved at school, and that adults believe it too. The research, which involved a number of tests to see if negative stereotypes had an effect on learning, showed that by the age of seven and eight, boys that were told they do worse in school than girls scored significantly lower marks than those that were not primed for failure, and telling boys aged six to nine before a test that both sexes were expected to equally well improved their performance.

For More information, click here


The Book Bounces Back


21 February

Can children learn grammar from reading books?

As children prepare for the new Year 6 grammar test, parents are concerned that teachers are focusing on teaching specifically for the test, while reading for pleasure is taken off the agenda.

In response to a letter from a concerned parent Julia Eccleshare, The Guardian’s ‘Book Doctor’, highlights the fact that children’s authors relish language as an essential tool of their work, and that spelling, punctuation, regular and irregular verbs underpin everything they do.

For more information, click here


The Book Bounces Back


28 January

National Storytelling Week

26th January to 2nd February is National Storytelling Week. From reading together, to encouraging children to interpret stories using dance, poetry, songs or plays, this week is the perfect excuse to inject some creativity into the classroom, and encourage interaction and understanding of topics from across the curriculum.




The Book Bounces Back


28 January

Education Secretary’s wife tweets his mobile phone number

Sarah Vine, wife of Education Secretary Michael Gove, is no stranger to tweeting her husband’s mishaps and misdemeanours, but this week she may have overstepped the mark when she tweeted her husband’s mobile phone number to more than 5000 of her Twitter followers.

The tweet was swiftly deleted and Ms Vine said she had made a mistake: but anyone who actually managed to jot down the number may be pleased to know his number hasn’t been changed as a result.



The Book Bounces Back


28 January

Study finds word route and meaning is key to learning

Children would find it easier to learn to read and write if they were first taught how the English language worked and what words mean, according to research from the University of Portsmouth.

Dr Victoria Devonshire trialled the effects of teaching morphology – the meaning of the sources of words – to 120 children aged between five and seven, and found that the average reading age increased by 14 months after just 6 months.

Dr Devonshire says: ‘I’m not saying abandon phonics, I’m saying give other elements the attention they need from the beginning of their formal literacy education, at the age of five years, to make sense of how our language works.’



The Book Bounces Back


28 January

Deprivation doubles chance of being lost for words

Children from deprived neighbourhoods who are entitled to free school meals are more than twice as likely as other pupils to be identified as having speech and language difficulties, a major piece of research has discovered.

Communication problems are also more prevalent among children from ethnic minority backgrounds than their white peers, and more prevalent amongst boys than girls.

The three year government funded study is the first to establish links between language problems and deprivation, ethnicity and gender using nationwide pupil census data.

Academics from Warwick, Newcastle and West of England universities and the University of London’s Institute of Education.

Professor Geoff Lindsay, who led the research, says that the research has ‘huge implications for practice, and suggests children’s needs are being missed.’

‘There is a higher likelihood of children in some schools in socially deprived areas having problems learning language or developing speech. This reflects the lack of opportunity within these communities. Early interventions can help to overcome that. Putting resources into those schools is important.’


The Book Bounces Back


28 January

Gove says keep schools open in snow

Everything can and should be done’ to keep schools open during the wintry weather, Education Secretary Michael Gove said - as snow closed more than 5,000 schools across the UK on Monday.

But he said schools would not be penalised if students could not attend.

About one in six schools, and tens of thousands of pupils, are thought to have been affected by severe weather.

Head teachers make the final decision on whether to close schools - and schools and councils have been using websites and social networking to keep parents alerted.

Some parents complained about late decisions on closures and poor communication from some schools.

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Gove told MPs: ‘More than 5,000 schools have closed across the country today as a result of adverse weather conditions.Thanks to changes that this government has made, no school which ensures that it is open will be penalised if individual students cannot make it to school on that day.’


The Book Bounces Back

17 January

The Book Bounces Back!

The ‘digital steamroller’ that is e-books is slowing down as people return to real books. The reasons? Real books don’t break when you drop them, you can borrow them, you can pass them round, you can keep your place in them and you can sniff them! It seems that, as enthralled as we are by technology, we have not lost our affinity, honed over hundreds of years, for the physical book.

Three years into the digital revolution, and e-books still only account for 13-14% of book sales, and are being used for specific types of reading: genre fiction being the most popular. The good news is that publishers seem to have taken note: rather than giving in to the e-book, they have upped their game, giving the physical book a new lease of life by increasing production values to turn out better quality books that are desirable items to have and to hold.

And of course, to read.


Memory Loss

17 January

Memory loss: remember more with a physical book.

Research by Kate Garland, a senior lecturer at Leicester University, shows that you are more likely to remember something if you have read it in a printed book than if you read it on an e-reader. Her research discovered that in order to completely absorb information you have read it many more times on an e-reader than if you read it on a printed page.


Reading Aloud

17 January

Try reading aloud in the staff room – not just the classroom!

Adults are re-learning the art of reading aloud – to each other!

For parents and teachers, reading aloud to children is a natural and instinctive activity that encourages listening skills, promotes comprehension and communication skills, fuels the imagination, supports bonding and can soothe fractious, anxious children. And apparently, the same can be said of adults who read to each other.

‘What happens with shared reading is that people experience a very intense thing together, but everybody has their own personal, private, inner response to it,’ says Jane Davis, founder of The Reader Organisation, a charity that aims to engage people through shared reading. ‘A lot of people don't understand how poor literacy is in our country. For many, reading aloud gives you access to things you would simply never read otherwise.’

Reading aloud has a noble history. Before the invention of the movable-type printing press in the 1430s, oral storytelling was a means of cementing community bonds and passing folk narratives on to the next generation. In medieval times, storytellers were honoured members of royal courts. From 1500 storytelling continued to be popular in an era of widespread illiteracy, when books were still too expensive for the common man.

‘Often a neighbour would have a Bible and would read aloud from it...but the appeal of reading is not just about education, it’s about being social, part of a community.’


Poetry By Heart

17 January

Poetry by Heart: A new government initiative to promote a love of poetry

The Department of Education is funding a new poetry competition designed to encourage children to learn poetry by heart. Children in Years 10 and above will be given the chance to compete by learning two pieces chosen from the Poetry by Heart website. The poems, chosen by Andrew Motion and Jean Sprackland, include classic pieces such as Sir Gawain and Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale as well as works from Shakespeare and John Donne alongside more modern pieces.

Andrew Motion said: ‘The anthology is a cornucopia in which familiar poems from the canon appear alongside less well-known pieces – and burnish one another. Story poems, love poems, frightening poems, tender poems, political poems, comical poems, poems that show the world as it is, and poems that look through the world into infinite space.

In every case, we preferred poems that make a powerful impact when they are heard aloud – not because they are theatrical, but because they dramatise experiences that surprise us into a new apprehension of ourselves and our capacity for imagining, thinking and marvelling.’

After a series of regional heats, the finals will take place in London in April.



Reading Remedies

17 January

Reading Remedies

Book Life can now offer an individual service to teachers struggling to find books to suit the children in their class. Simply email with your dilemma, and we’ll find the books we think will help you solve the problem, recommending book collections from our range that we think will best suit you.



Blue Peter Awards

17 January

Blue Peter Awards 2013 – Shortlist Announced

Best Story

The Boy who Swam With Piranhas by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)

Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (Mostly) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic)

Best Book with Facts

Horrible Science: House of Horrors by Nick Arnold & Tony De Saulles (Scholastic)

Walter Tull's Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Fantastic Mr Dahl by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Puffin)

Winners will be announced on World Book Day, Thursday March 7th.


Marsh Award Shortlist Announced

17 January

Marsh Award Shortlist Announced

Five translated books for children have been shortlisted for the Marsh award, a prize which celebrates the high quality of translated fiction for young people.

Each of the novels selected was originally published in a foreign language, but have since been translated into English, allowing children in the UK the chance to read about a wider range of social and cultural subjects. The English-Speaking Union, the organisers of the award, believe that language should not be a barrier against communication and emphasise how important translated fiction can be for children to explore new ideas and meanings in an ever more culturally diverse Britain.

The 2013 shortlist includes:

Howard Curtis's translation of In the Sea by Fabio Geda,

Fatima Sharafeddini's translation of My Own Special Way by Mithaa Alkhayyat

Lucia Graves's translation of The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Ros and Chloe Schwartz's retranslation of The Little Prince by Antoine de St-Exupery

Karin Chubb’s translation of Themba by Lutz van Dijk








The Marsh Award has been running since 1996, awarding translators every two years. The 2013 winning translator will receive a prize of £2,000 at a ceremony to be held in London on 23 January.




New Catalogue

11 January

New book collections from Book Life for the new term

The new 2013 Book Life catalogues will arrive in primary and junior schools across the country during the next week.




11 January

Free breakfasts for Blackpool Primary Schools

Blackpool council will be providing free breakfasts for all its 12,000 primary school pupils during a three-month pilot project designed to stop children starting their day hungry. Council leader Simon Blackburn says a healthy meal before lessons will help pupils ‘focus on learning’, and will be available for every child, regardless of their family income and whether or not they are eligible for free school meals.

National Association of Head Teachers' president, Steve Iredale, said the £700,000 scheme would have a ‘huge impact’.

Last summer researchers found positive results from free meal schemes in three local authorities, with studies looking at similar projects in Durham, Newham and Wolverhampton finding that free school meals across the board helped to close the gap between rich and poor in test results.



11 January

Parents failing to make children ‘bully – proof’

A leading headmaster claims that families are failing to ‘bully-proof’ their children by constantly allowing them to be ‘centre-stage’ rather than being encouraged to become independent, self-confident and resilient.

Peter Tait, head of Sherborne Preparatory School in Dorset, suggests that once an issue with bullying has been identified, parents often exacerbate the problem by seeking immediate redress, rather than looking at the reasons behind the bullying.

Mr Tait says:

‘Often their vulnerability can be linked to poorly developed social or language skills and low self-esteem, to comments, body language and mannerisms that can be irritating or incomprehensible to other children; or to parents who are endlessly citing imagined slights or children who want to be included in another social group that won’t welcome them…Not unreasonably, parents can become anxious when their child is left out of a social group…[but]…sometimes we need to be patient and let children work things out for themselves.’



11 January

Children’s Laureate Joins Phonics Debate

Julia Donaldson, award-winning author and current Children’s Laureate, has joined the phonics debate, saying that she thinks the current Year 1 Phonics test is ‘a bit patronising for teachers’ and ‘highlights how easy it is for children to feel that they’re not quite up to scratch.’

The Gruffalo author believes that the best way to tackle literacy is to listen to children and trust teachers to enable them to work together, without necessarily prescribing one particular method for doing so.

‘I've always thought is that children learn in various different ways,’ says Donaldson. ‘Some children respond better to Phonics, some to looking and seeing words, and some learn by osmosis. Any good teacher knows you need a variety of ways of reading.’



19-23 November

Anti-Bullying Week 2012

National Anti-Bullying Week 2012 is the 19th-23rd November. This year’s theme – we’re better without bullying- shines a light on bullying and its effect on achievement. Together we can make it clear that we do not accept bullying in our schools, clubs, teams and create environments where all children can develop their skills and talent.

Children and young people have more chance of achieving their full potential without bullying. We know that bullying can lead to children missing school, failing exams, dropping out of sport, staying away from extra-curricular activities, and limiting their life choices. It is time that this stopped! Visit and get involved!




19 October

Nurturing Education Worldwide

At Book Life we pride ourselves on providing the finest educational books, surpassing our competitors and encouraging positive learning among children not only nationwide, but worldwide too!

Book Life is delighted to be able to offer international schools and libraries the same collections we offer to UK schools.  Since the release of our catalogue in September 2012, we have received our greatest influx of orders to date.

Why do international schools choose Book Life?

  • Expertise - we're specialists in choosing the most recent and best books available.
  • Experience - we have over 50 years' experience of creating thoughtful book collections for teaching and learning.
  • Presence - we already supply to over 30 countries across the globe.
  • Shipping - we ship worldwide and offer remarkably competitive shipping rates, we'll even deliver free to a designated UK shipping address or UK book supplier if required.
  • Efficiency - our friendly team works hard to provide an efficient, effective service which delivers on every level.

Each book collection contains all you need to inspire creativity and the pursuit of knowledge in your class.  So whether you need to find book which bring KS1 History alive or titles that tempt reluctant readers, you can trust us to source and compile packs that excite and engage your pupils.

If you're an international school and interested in using our service, please call us on 020 7649 9565 or email or orders team on

World Food Day

16 October

5 Ways to Get Involved in World Food Day

World Food Day is celebrated on the 16 October and is the perfect opportunity to introduce the challenges people face over food to your students.  Do your class understand what it means to be malnourished? Are they able to recognise why some children around the world don't have enough to eat?

Nearly one in six people across the globe do not get sufficient food to be healthy and live an active life.  Although the vast majority of developing countries have reduced child hunger rates since 1990, progress still isn't reaching those who need it the most.  Below we have identified five ways you can explore World Food Day with your class.

  1. Challenge children to think critically and creatively about where their food comes from and how to cook it.  A great resource for this is our 'Grow It, Eat It' book.
  2. Actively grow your own food with your class!  Growing cress with your students is a hassle-free activity, which emphasises the time and effort that goes into growing your own produce.
  1. Visit ActionAid's website, the charity has put together some great presentations that help learners explore the issues of whether there is enough food for everyone.
  2. Remind children they can make a difference!  Teach your class about poverty, its causes and consequences and the way it can be resolved.  Encourage kids to get fundraising and make their contribution to the world.
  3. Visit Oxfam's website, which has a set of resources developed in response to the food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, where a combination of poor rain and sharply rising food prices this year have placed 18 million people at risk of hunger, with six million already hungry.


Black History Month

01 October

Black History Month – Get Involved!  

October is Black History Month, a period during which schools and organisations worldwide focus on the achievements of black people in history and the modern world. An opportunity to share with the world its vast contributions, the Black community use the month of October to demonstrate pride in its creativity, respect for its intellectual prowess and celebration of its cultural identity. Open to participation by everyone, Black History Month is developed, delivered and managed as an educational and historical awareness experience and should be shared by everyone as world history. If you would like to learn more about Black History Month just click here.


Social Success

12 September

Catalogue Release Marks Launch of 'Social Switch On' Campaign      

Arriving on desks with an explosion this week, Book Life's September catalogue showcases the finest selection of book collections available. Brimming with literature for everyone, boy or girl, struggling or confident, it's not only engaging book collections we have in store for you this September, but also the launch of our new 'Social Switch On' campaign.

Encouraging UK educators nationwide to join our 'Social Switch On', by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter, Book Life uses the social networks to support teachers with industry news, resources, activities and more. Rewarding educators who 'like' us on Facebook and 'follow' us on Twitter with a free book, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to share exciting literature such as Francesca Simon's 'Horrid Henry's Holiday' or Peter Bentley's 'The Shark the Dark' with your class.

To learn more and take part in Book Life's 'Social Switch On' campaign, please click here, but not before 'liking' us on Facebook or 'following' us on Twitter.


12 September

It's Great News From Our Product Review!      

Sending our Y3 Best Book Collection to be reviewed by one of education's most esteemed book critics, John Dabell, may have been considered a brave move by some. However, Book Life's confidence in its bespoke book collections paid off, with this fantastic review in September's Teach Primary magazine!

Teach Primary/Book Life Book Review


16 August

Back to School

Time To Warm-up For The New School Year  

Nearing the end of August, the 'dog days' of summer are nearly over for educators across the UK, who are hastily soaking up the final moments of a well-deserved break.

With September literally around the corner, many teachers have already turned their attention towards the arrival of new children into their classrooms, planning lessons which will capture and engage children from the onset of the new school term.

At Book Life, we understand that the wisest education professionals know that by preparing for children's needs in advance, the more likely that learning will increase. With this wisdom firmly in mind, here are a few ideas that will warm you up for the new school term and help children feel welcome at the start of your time together. 

  • Get into the classroom as soon as you can (but not too soon!)

    Start setting up your room a week or two before you are required to report to work. It may sound a terrible idea, but that way you can work on it leisurely without feeling overwhelmed with staff meetings and other tasks. After all, the design of a classroom often shapes students' first impressions of a teacher!

  • Make sure your supplies are in order

    Supplies are the lifeline of a classroom. Have you thought about what you need and don't need this year? It's worth taking a visit to your school secretary, who will know exactly what materials your school already has available. You need to take advantage of these materials as much as possible to prevent spending your own money on classroom decorations!

  • Set behaviour expectations and consequences

    It's important for you to communicate behaviour expectations from the beginning of the new school term, so spend some time thinking about what behaviour you demand from your class. Informing students of class expectations will eliminate any future debates.

  • Develop consistent routines

    Routines should be developed and used consistently during the first few weeks of school. This will provide students with practice and ensure it becomes second nature.


    Why not engage in some first day of school icebreakers? These are fun to do throughout the year and will help to ease any tension and nerves!

  • However, do remember that holidays aren't over just yet, these are a few ideas which can be achieved with relative ease!


    26 July


    New Chapter for Book Life 
    Book Life is delighted to announce the beginning of a new chapter for business, expanding our company premises to better support our growing team and mounting book collections. Considerably larger than our previous headquarters, the expansion will help support an increasing workforce and the production of additional products, following a dramatic surge in demand from UK schools and libraries for our bespoke book collections.  Enabling Book Life to continue with its unwavering supply of books to schools and libraries across the country, the upgrade mirrors the company’s expansion into new areas of the publishing world, such as our recent launch on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.  Appropriately timed ahead of our busy summer and the launch of September’s catalogue which now features 26 new non-fiction and 16 new fiction book collections, the expansion will help Book Life fulfil their commitment to encouraging positive learning. 

     More news>

    Joyce Dunbar, author of over 70 of them, has created a manifesto to explain just that. Seeing them as a 'greatly undervalued and underused' resource, she tells of how crucial they are in their imaginative appeal to all children, but epecially for deaf children, for whom the visual aspect is even more important. It's the 'tantalising gap' between the words and pictures which can only be filled by the reader's imagination and which can engage children in the act of reading early, whether escaping into a world of their own or sharing stories with their teachers and parents. Download the 'Love a Picture Book' leaflet
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