Book-banners in Mississippi have removed kids access to ebooks

Mississippi Statute 39-3-25 has made it impossible for young readers under the age of 18 to have access to Libby, an eBook platform offered by Overdrive or Hoopla another popular streaming service offered by libraries without permission from parents or guardians.

BookRiot has a comprehensive article about this ban available here.

Campaign launched to get the nation reading, as new research reveals that only one in three children are read a story every day by their dads

New research reveals only 29% of children are read to every day or nearly every day by their dads*, despite this being one of the most effective ways of encouraging children’s enjoyment of reading, which is proven to positively impact on life chances. Only one in four children and teens read for pleasure every day or nearly every day*, so there is a huge opportunity for dads to have a positive impact by reading aloud with them more frequently. The research shows that when dads read with their children, the majority find it rewarding (76%) and an enjoyable experience for both them and their children (74%).***

The research also revealed the barriers many dads face in reading aloud with their children. Dads’ own childhood experiences may be a cause, as the research also found that only 36% of dads were read to when they were children themselves and fewer than half of dads grew up with positive ideas about reading.** Dads were also twice as likely as mums to say they lack confidence in their personal reading ability and in choosing books their children would like to read.*** Many dads are also simply unaware of the benefits of reading aloud to their children, with only 36% of dads saying they are well aware that reading aloud to their children encourages them to read more.**

In response, and ahead of Father’s Day this year, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity BookTrust and children’s publishers Farshore and HarperCollins Children’s Books have joined forces and are on a mission to encourage the nation’s dads to pledge to read with their children more regularly for four weeks to reach the goal of a million minutes of storytime shared across the UK. 

Farshore conducted a study in collaboration with parenting community dadsnet to test this approach. The study, involving 33 dads and their 49 children, demonstrated a significant increase in dads’ and children’s enjoyment of reading, sense of togetherness, wellbeing and a positive effect on the child’s learning and behaviour.****

With the backing of children’s book authors and public figures including Michael Morpurgo, Nick Butterworth, Joe Wicks, Alexander Armstrong, Emmanuel Asuquo and David Walliams, the Dads Make Stories Magic campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of reading aloud to children. BookTrust, Farshore and HarperCollins Children’s Books will offer top tips and practical ideas of how to engage even the most reluctant of readers with books and stories. They will also share details of the campaign’s supporters’ magical storytime experiences with their own children and grandchildren to inspire others to get involved. 

Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE, President of BookTrust, author of War Horse and the former Children’s Laureate said:

“My journey to becoming a story-maker began with my mother and grandmother reading to me and my brother in bed. For us, these nightly readings were acts of love. They lived all of it as they read, we lived all of it as we listened – we made the stories together. In sharing their own passion for stories with us, I learned early on how reading can be immersive, transporting, and sheer joy. I’m so pleased to support this campaign, to inspire and motivate anyone with a child in their lives to enjoy the powerful benefits of storytelling. We must all work together to enrich children’s lives through encouraging a love of words and stories.”

Joe Wicks MBE, the ‘Nation’s PE Teacher’, author of The Burpee Bears, and dad of three said“This powerful new research from HarperCollins and BookTrust shows the magic that happens when we read to children – it really sets them up for life. I discovered the joy of books and stories later in life and love sharing it with my own kids. That’s why I’m joining the Dads Make Stories Magic campaign to get us reading more often to our kids, and to reach the goal of a million minutes of storytime shared across the nation!” 

Nick Butterworth, award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books, including the beloved Percy the Park Keeper series said: 

“This illuminating new research highlights that it’s more important than ever to motivate and inspire the nation to read. I didn’t get the hang of reading until I was eight, but thanks to my mum and my grandmother, who read constantly to me, I became hooked. Not on reading, but on stories. As a dad, I wanted to repeat the fun I had as a boy with my own children. I didn’t realise then that as a by-product, I was making a huge investment in their future. As we were simply enjoying magical adventures together, we were unaware of priceless added extras: the unconscious development of vocabulary, the easy learning of language skills, and the infectious desire to read for themselves. 

And here’s another; every minute spent sharing in this way reinforces family relationships and a sense of identity and security. All this for free! Well almost: The small price to pay is a little regular time spent daily with people you love.”

Sharing books and stories has the potential to transform children’s lives, positively affecting their life-chances, emotional wellbeing, creativity and attainment. Yet the number of children reading is in long-term decline, with only 25% of children and teens reading for pleasure daily or nearly every day in 2022, compared to 38% in 2012*.  The Dads Make Stories Magic campaign hopes to show dads just how much fun they and their children can have creating magical storytime experiences together. 

Children love sharing books and stories with anyone – whether that’s mums, dads, carers, grandparents, siblings or friends. By having more reading role models (from different people reading with them or seeing other people reading around them), the more likely children are to become readers themselves. So, it is not just dads who can join the pledge to reach a million of minutes of storytime, everyone is invited. 

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust said: “Reading is something that can be done anywhere and brings children life-changing benefits that can give them the best start in life. There’s no right or wrong way to read a book. You can look at the pictures, use silly voices or make up your own story. Children will love the closeness and bonding moments that come from sharing a book together so there’s nothing to stop you from giving it a go. Join the Dads Make Stories Magic campaign and you’ll be sharing magical storytime experiences and creating memories together with your children.” 

Alison David, reading for pleasure expert, author of Help Your Child Love Reading and Consumer Insight Director at Farshore said: “Our recent research with dads found they experienced great joy when they read to their children. It gave them the opportunity to cuddle up and create some precious bonding time. Of course the children loved it too. This deep enjoyment is the reason reading aloud to children is so effective: they associate reading with pleasure and, when read to often, they develop the enthusiasm to read themselves. Children who choose to read for pleasure simply do better in life, enjoying a host of benefits including performing better at school and having enhanced wellbeing. Something as simple as reading aloud to children has truly far-reaching and life-long benefits.”

Cally Poplak, Executive Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books and Farshore, said: “Our mission is to make every child a proud reader. One effective way to do this is to read aloud to children and we’d love more dads to have this wonderfully rewarding experience through our Dads Make Stories Magic campaign.”

You can find out more about the campaign and pledge a contribution to the Million Minutes goal at 

The Witches of Hogsback by Sally Partridge

Zelda is a self-proclaimed do-gooder and cannot stay quiet if she sees something wrong. Unfortunately, this doesn’t win her any popularity contests – and now not even her ex-boyfriend, Dylan, wants to put up with her anymore. Desperate to escape from everything for a while, Zelda signs up for the school’s hiking trip to Hogsback. Her illusion of having a nice, relaxing time shatters when she stumbles upon a mystery nobody else wants to solve: the death of local teen Stephan Dale. Quickly, she is neck-deep in trouble: from having her room vandalised to nearly being killed. Someone clearly doesn’t want her solving Stephan’s death. Her prime suspects are the group of teenagers known as the ‘witches of Hogsback’, but are they really witches?

There is more to this case than meets the eye.

Sally Partridge is a phenomenal author! I have a fan of her work since I picked up a copy of Dark Poppy’s Demise at Kalk Bay Books back in 2012. She imbues her work with such a sense of place that for me it is like visiting South Africa each time I start reading her work. If you have never had the privilege to visit Hogsback then this novel will take you there.

In an era of epic 300+ page young adult novels and multi book series it is an absolute delight to pick up a self-contained novel that rattles along at a fairly fast pace and takes you with it. Initially I found Zelda to be a vaguely annoying protagonist (possibly because I was similar to her when I was in my teens) but as the story progressed I found myself warming to her and as the sense of mystery and danger deepened as the story continued I found myself becoming more and more concerned for her safety (and that of her hiking club buddies) and saying things like “Why are you making such poor decisions?” in my head.

If I may take a short digression for a moment: mystery books are bad for people with teens and kids in their lives because we worry about the protagonists and get stressed out when they make poor decisions that are necessary to progress the plot along

Anyway back to the review:

The story had just the right amount of holiday rebound romance, mystery and uncertainty; the aura of menace hooked me and kept me reading through the night. For me the real star of the story was the landscape (I can’t help it – I miss South Africa, and this novel took me home for a few hours).

Overall I found The Witches of Hogsback to be an incredibly satisfying read, the ending felt like a beginning for Zelda and he new-found friends rich with hope and excitement.

The Witches of Hogsback is published by LAPA Publishers in South Africa and is available digitally via most online retailers.

A Calamity of Mannerings

‘It is a curse to be born a girl…’

Take a peek into the diary of Panth (never enquire as to her given name), a young woman knocking on the gilded door of adult life and high society. But kicking up one’s heels at the Cafe de Paris does not come easily to a girl navigating:

1. Poverty (even the genteel kind), thanks to her papa’s sad demise

2. A lack of any experience whatsoever with the opposite sex, of course not counting Freddy Spencer (and he wasn’t that sort of experience, anyhow) 3. Multiple sisters with ideas, a grandmother with opinions and one recalcitrant sheep

Panth knows there is more for her out in the world – it’s 1924, for goodness’ sake – and that could include swoonsome American with excellent teeth, Buck Buchanan. The question is – how in the name of Tatler is she to claim it?

A hilarious coming-of-age story for fans of I Capture the Castle and Bridgerton.

Published by UCLan

Cover illustration by Emma Block.

Joanna Nadin has such range, writing for the breadth of ages and tastes, always with humour, and hitting the spot every time. A CALAMITY OF MANNERINGS is her newest offering for teens/YA. I have to admit to having only dipped into it so far with other things having overtaken life lately, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a piece from her for the blog having loved everything of hers so far…

My 10 favourite coming-of-age YA novels

by Joanna Nadin

Inevitably, because of the age of the protagonists, so much of YA reads like a coming-of-age tale. Here, though, I’ve had to be pretty strict in order to get the number down to ten, with huge apologies for the myriad brilliant books I couldn’t fit in. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is a book I come back to time and time again when I’m teaching dialogue and the importance of final lines in chapters, but more than that: when I want to feel joyful. It’s a celebration of friendship and love between two Mexican-American boys, which blossoms in a summer of utter boredom. 

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

The original YA novel – written for, about and, incredibly, by a teenager. I cry at this tale of class conflict in 1960s America every time. Stay gold, Ponyboy. 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

The book before the hugely successful film Dear Simon, which charts sixteen-year-old Simon’s crush on Blue, what happens when one of his emails gets into the wrong hands, and asks the excellent question ‘shouldn’t straight people have to come out too?’

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 

I could have picked any book by either author, but you get double bubble with this one, as well as the glorious Tiny Cooper, who is ‘very gay, and very proud’. The story of two boys with the same name whose lives are turned upside down when their paths cross. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman 

An opposites-attract love story with a difference, this is the brilliant graphic novel behind the brilliant TV series. A book that bursts with kindness and charm as overthinker and openly gay Charlie falls for apparently straight rugby player Nick.  

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Rightly a cult novel now, this is the eye-opening story of orphan Cameron, who is sent to a gay conversion centre when her strict aunt finds out she’s in a relationship with her best friend. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

You’ve watched the TV series (and if not, why not?); now read the novel. Awkward fifteen-year-old Isabel spends every summer with brothers Conrad and Jeremiah, who have never shown her any interest other than friendship. But this year, something flips.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Unfolding in a series of letters to an unnamed ‘friend’, this 1990s-set book follows Charlie as he navigates high school, falls for one of his best friends, and struggles to come to terms with the death of his aunt. Hard-hitting and poignant, this deals with suicide and sexual abuse, but manages to be celebratory as well. And extra kudos for getting Rocky Horror into a novel.

 Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann

One of only two books on this list that hasn’t yet made it onto the screen, but I have high hopes it will. I had the privilege of seeing this brilliant and hilarious novel at its conception, and have watched its protagonist – the bitter but witty Phoebe, who would rather marry herself than any of the boys at school – and its writer, Wibke, become incredible women. A queer love story that will have you howling with laughter as well as set your heart pinging. 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Not strictly YA (it was written for an adult audience), but it’s in my top five books ever, so I’m shoehorning it in. Also, it provided inspiration for A Calamity of Mannerings, with its historical setting and naïve but loveable narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, whose eccentric almost-aristocratic family have fallen on terribly hard times. 

Thank you Jo! And thank you Antonia for organising the piece for TeenLibrarian and a review copy for me.

A CALAMITY OF MANNERINGS is published this week!

Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body. The path to happiness may lead her away from her hometown and her mother’s toxic projections–but first she will have to find the strength to seek help.

Hungry Ghost is a tale of love, loss, mental health and obsession. Victoria poured aspects of her life into this story, as she said in her afterword Val is not me, but I was her. This is a beautifully told and illustrated graphic novel, I saw parts of myself in Val, trying to cope with the loss of a parent and it gave me a deeper understanding of people suffering with disordered eating and dysfunctional relationships. For all the heavy topics contained within, there is also a thread of hope woven throughout the story which leavens what could have been an otherwise grim and heartbreaking story. Safe to say for all the sadness, Hungry Ghost left me in a happy state, with renewed hope – and that is one of the things I hope for in the books I read these days!

Hungry Ghost handles the topics of eating disorders, loss and acceptance sensitively and with nuance giving insight for those wishing to know more and, hopefully, providing visibility to those thinking they are suffering alone . This will be an important addition to any collection and perfect for readers looking for works on mental health.

Hungry Ghost is written and illustrated by Victoria Ying and is published by First Second Books. It is out today.

Period Party

On April 8th, the Lucille H. Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library recently held a Period Party – a program designed for teens and tweens to come and learn about menstruation in a safe space, make crafts, and win prizes.

The craft was making pouches out of colorful duct tape to carrying menstrual products!

The Instructables website has a page on how to make duct tape pouches:

You can visit the Kansas city Public Library’s Facebook page to see the reaction this program had:

The Censorship of Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s Love in the Library

On Wednesday April 12, author Maggie Tokuda-Hall shared her experience of Scholastic wanting to feature her book Love in the Library in their Rising Voices Library

I reached out to the Scholastic communications team with some questions. You can read the text of the email I sent below.

Good afternoon, my name is Matt Imrie, I am the editor of the TeenLibrarian blog and newsletter, I hope that you are the correct person to contact about the questions I have about the recent post ( by author Maggie Tokuda-Hall that Scholastic recently made an offer to license her book Love in the Library contingent on removing the paragraph from the author’s note on racism. I have been writing a series of articles on challenges to books in school & public libraries and I am reaching out to Scholastic for comment on Maggie’s claims.

This is concerning, especially in the light of the current bans and challenges to books for young readers in school and public libraries that are occurring on a daily basis across the US.

Has Scholastic been engaged in censoring books to preclude the chance of challenges to works they publish? If so has this disproportionately affected authors & illustrators form minority communities or has this been happening cross the board?

They responded pretty promptly yesterday afternoon, attaching a message from Schoalstic President & CEO Peter Warwick:

No matter what Scholastic say or do now I fear the damage wrought by this harmful action may take a long time to heal, if it ever does.

The ripples are still being felt and will be for quite some time. Trust, once broken takes a long time to be rebuilt.

One of the original Scholastic Mentors, Joanna Ho posted a statement on her Instagram feed:

Dr Sayantani DasGupta a mentor for the Scholastic Rising Voices AANHPI Narratives collection resigned her mentorship:

Publishers Weekly has also covered the story here.

In this instance it appears that enough people stood up in solidarity to shake the walls of Scholastic enough to make them walk back their attempts at censorship. Once again it is a person from a minority group in the US that has been the focus of this attempt.

This is wrong and should not be happening, and it will not stop until enough of us stand together with the BIPOC people that bear the brunt of these attacks and demand genuine change and accountability so this does not keep happening.

Open Letter to Scholastic’s Education Solutions Division re: Censoring Authors:

Former mentor Dr DasGupta has also revealed that the exclusion of queer voices in previous Rising Voices collections was systemic:

The Foundations of the US Public Library Service are Cracking

The Missouri Legislature has voted to defund public libraries, I guess the Show Me State does not like people saying “Show me books with gay, trans and minority characters!” to Librarians. Apparently, Texas is trying to go down a similar route and Florida is an even hotter mess these days. A Michigan Library was also defunded and faces potential closure, even after thousands of dollars in donations were raised.

Moms for Liberty has also been incredibly active, as freedom of choice in reading material is not covered under their version of Liberty, they are now targeting a school in the district that my library serves, the librarian there resigned earlier this year and are active across the US.

Library boards are threatening closure when their attempts to remove books are declared unconstitutional rather than put them back on the shelves. Yesterday I saw a tweet from author Maggie Tokuda-Hall about being approached to license her book Love in the Library for their AANHPI narratives collection which would usually be a cause for celebration, except that they wanted to remove a word before the deal could go ahead.

Maggie has written about it on her blog – it is equal parts heart-breaking and infuriating, you can read it here:
Scholastic is one of the big dogs in the publishing world, they run book fairs in schools, in the UK they are the official book supplier for the Yoto Carnegie Book Awards, they are everywhere and usually do good work; so, I find it hard to believe that this move is a one-off, how many authors and illustrators have already decided to swallow a bitter pill to accept what appears to be a fantastic deal?

As the clamor to ban books in schools and libraries (and also alarmingly now in bookstores) has started growing louder how many publishers have begun moving behind the scenes to head off criticism instead of supporting their authors and illustrators and the readers who deserve access to books?

Diverse voices in the publishing world (& in libraries) are an incredibly small percentage, of the workforce and also what tis available in print. Hearing about this brazen move by Scholastic I fear that the numbers may become even smaller if publishers are moving to placate the outsize voices of those that are complaining or taking offence at diverse offerings in libraries. Library workers not purchasing works to avoid complaints is a creeping problem in libraries but if publishers are pre-emptively censoring works that they have or wish to make available then the whole edifice made up of publishers, bookstores and libraries becomes unsafe and unwelcoming for everyone.

As a public service Public Libraries are non-partisan and open to all (or they should be), but this new hostile environment being created by a minority of people that use libraries risks skewing the services and materials that libraries offer.

Nervosa by Hayley Gold

Unflinchingly honest and darkly humorous, Nervosa is a graphic memoir about disordered eating, chronic illness, and a profound relationship with hope.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is not a phase, a fad, or a choice. It is a debilitating illness, manifested in a distorted relationship with food, but which actually has more to do with issues of control. It is often a puzzle for doctors, therapists, parents, and friends. And so those who suffer from it are belittled, or tragically misunderstood, not only by society but by the healthcare system meant to treat it.

Nervosa is a no-holds-barred, richly textured portrait of one young woman’s experience. In her vividly imagined retelling, Hayley Gold lays bare a callous medical system seemingly disinterested in the very patients it is supposed to treat. And traces how her own life was irrevocably damaged by both the system and her own disorder. With brutal honesty and witty sarcastic humor, Gold offers a remarkably candid exploration of the search for hope in the darkness.

Reading Nervosa was akin to probing a gap in my jaw where a tooth was just removed, it hurt but I was unable to resist poking the hole with my tongue until the sensation of pain overwhelmed me.

God, I don’t know what to say really, this book is so good, I cried, I got angry and I put the book down one less time than I picked it up to read because I felt compelled to witness Hayley’s story. If you have had experiences with mental health, dysfunctional family relationships, run-ins with doctors and the medical world in general then this book may trigger you (remember that it is ok to put the book down if this happens).

Nervosa is important, it is the story of a life so far and as bleak as it gets it is still hopeful and as I get older I cherish hope wherever I find it!

So yes this is a short review, Nervosa is good – great even but it is painful and yet hopeful too. I think you should read it carefully. It is out now wherever you get your books.

Thanks to Street Noise Books who provided the review copy I read.

Street Noise is publishing some of the best non-fiction graphic narratives that I have ever read, I think you should check them out if you haven’t already!

Hayley Gold is a comic book writer and artist. She studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her first graphic novel, Letters to Margaret, published in 2021, is an exploration of culture wards through crossword puzzles and humor. Her work has been published in such anthologies as The Strumpet and World War 3 Illustrated. Hayley lives in New York City. She loves rabbits and the color cobalt blue.

The Yoto Carnegies 2023 Shortlist

The Yoto Carnegies celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration and are unique in being judged by children’s and youth librarians, with the respective Shadowers’ Choice Medals voted for by children and young people.

Matt and I have both been judges for the awards, many moons ago, and it is and extraordinarily rigorous process involving reading and re-reading dozens of books and forming proper arguments as to why things should be shortlisted (or not…in fact sometimes I was very passionate about *not* letting something get further…), judges can’t just say “this is my favourite because it is cute”. So we love seeing the longlist and then shortlist announcement and imagining the conversations that went on for them to be the chosen few! I definitely have favourites in this year’s lists:

The 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing longlist is (alphabetical by author surname):

·        The Light in Everything by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

·        When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Natalie Sirett (Little Tiger)

·        Medusa by Jessie Burton, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

·        The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch (Little Island)

·        Needle by Patrice Lawrence (Barrington Stoke)

·        I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (Hodder Children’s Books)

·        The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly Press) 

The 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration longlist is (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

·        Rescuing Titanic illustrated and written by Flora Delargy (Wide Eyed Editions)

·        Alte Zachen: Old Things illustrated by Benjamin Phillips, written by Ziggy Hanaor (Cirada Books)

·        The Worlds We Leave Behind illustrated by Levi Pinfold, written by A. F. Harrold (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

·        The Visible Sounds illustrated by Yu Rong, written by Yin Jianling (UCLan Publishing)

·        The Comet illustrated and written by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye Books)

·        Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear illustrated by Jeet Zdung, written by Trang Nguyen (Kingfisher)

Click here to read more about the fantastic books that have been chosen.